LINCOLN — There was a lot of talk about recovery on Saturday after one of Nebraska’s worst conference home losses ever.
Recovery of the mind. Of the body. Of the spirit of a once-great program.
Nebraska now enters its bye week, and it comes after two weeks of clobberings and in the midst of an athletic director hire.
And a week of change and recovery begins. Off the field, the week will be infused with new blood with the introduction of new Athletic Director Bill Moos. That, itself, brings questions about the job status of coach Mike Riley, and what Moos thinks of the current state of affairs in Lincoln.
But as Riley said after the loss on Saturday, he’s still working under the assumption his job is safe.
“I’m doing this as if we’re going to keep building and building and building both in the football and recruitment of the players,” Riley said on Saturday.
So the focus for the coaches on the field this week, they said, will be searching for answers on how to correct the ship for the final five weeks.
“They need to heal,” defensive coordinator Bob Diaco said after Nebraska’s 56-14 loss to Ohio State. “And then just get back to work on our ideology and our culture. And then get back to work on the plays.”
After a close win over Arkansas State, a failed comeback at Oregon, a historically bad loss to Northern Illinois, wins against the two worst teams in the Big Ten, then two blowouts, Nebraska is 3-4 and searching for some sort of stability on either side of the ball.
The offense hasn’t scored more than 30 points since the Oregon loss, the defense gave up the fourth-most yards in program history against Ohio State and there are few silver linings for the Huskers’ season entering Week 8.
Although things may seem in disarray, maybe this is the right time for a bye week, offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf said Saturday. At least for his offense it might be the right time.
“You’d obviously like the momentum of a win propel you into a bye (week),” Langsdorf said. “Obviously we’ve had two tough games against two really good teams, and I think it’s a chance to take a deep breath and look back on some things that went well and that didn’t go well and reset a little bit.”
The plan for the bye week, Riley said, is to have three practices and five days of meetings, plus lifting.
In those meetings, Langsdorf said, coaches will break down the entire season’s worth of film with positions. That assessment happens Sunday and Monday morning.
“We won’t get too into the game plan for Purdue right away. It’ll be fine-tuning, detailing a lot of different things,” Langsdorf said.
But the off-the-field stuff might be even more important for the coaching staff this week. On one front, there’s no guarantee Riley and his staff will immediately have the support of Moos. Plus, inside the locker room, two straight blowout losses at home can damage a team’s psyche.
So that’ll be a focus this week, though Riley said he’s not too worried about losing the locker room.
“I think that frankly, I’ve got a feeling this team has a trust within the building, within our locker room, within our staff, that they will believe that we’re going to come back and get better,” Riley said.
Langsdorf wasn’t worried whatsoever about his guys losing focus.
After the game, Riley addressed the team in the locker room about how important attitude will be entering the bye week.
“He talked about working,” Diaco said. “Talked about building brick by brick. We’re building a team and it takes time.”