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Cornhusker coach Frank Solich continues to learn, keep NU strong
COLUMBIA, Mo. — This is why Frank Solich is becoming a great coach.
This is why the Huskers have been flatter than pancakes and still sit at 5-0 and perched at No. 4 in the national polls.
This is why Nebraska is overachieving and rolling along with a bunch of first-year starters in new positions, even a bunch of freshmen.
“This” is Saturday, in Columbia Missouri. Solich was worried all week that his team would not play well, because they hadn’t practiced well most of the week.
In weeks — and years — past, Solich has been able to gauge where his team is emotionally, and how they will perform physically in terms of execution, by how the Huskers looked in practice.
But the Huskers pounded Missouri 36-3 Saturday. Solich, though, also knows this is a marathon, not a sprint.
“There are a lot of areas we need to brush up on,” Solich said after the romp.
This past week in practice, the Big Red offense wasn’t sharp, and even lacked focus despite heading here, on the road for its first conference and road game of the season.
Make no mistake, Nebraska did struggle early against Missouri, looking very un-Nebraska like in the first quarter. The Solich of two or three years ago would have thrown his arms up in the air and started throwing the ball play after play.
Not this year. Not this time. Not this coach.
Solich stuck to his bread and butter. He demanded that his line, which is still suspect at times, bear down and grind out some yardage. Nebraska had just 55 rushing yards in the opening quarter. Rather than let the Pipeline off the hook and hope that Tracey Wistrom could sneak open behind Missouri’s secondary, Solich commanded his troops to win the battle of the trenches.
The Huskers did, rushing for 412 yards.
And Solich learned from last year’s shootout with Missouri as well, shutting the Tigers down in every facet.
“They ran up and down against us last year,” Solich said. “They threw it last year. This year, even though they had their moments, they were never able to put a lot of points on the board.”
That’s the Huskers, coming of age.
Just like their head coach.
(Bob Schaller covers Cornhusker football for the Star-Herald)