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Steven M. Sipple: Frost responds to Fleck's 'culture' comments, and other bye week takeaways

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Nebraska vs. Minnesota, 10.16

Nebraska coach Scott Frost directs the team against Minnesota during the first half Oct. 16 at Huntington Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

Parker Gabriel and Steven M. Sipple discuss the four most interesting notes they heard from Nebraska football coach Scott Frost on Wednesday at Memorial Stadium.

All's quiet on Stadium Drive.

With Nebraska on a bye week, Husker football coach Scott Frost made his lone scheduled media appearance of the week Wednesday morning.

He covered ample ground. A few takeaways: 

1. Response to Fleck: Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck would be a good radio talk-show host. 

He makes unnecessary statements that tend to anger, or even insult, people. 

Frost, though, doesn't seem particularly bothered by what one could interpret as an insult by Fleck. After Minnesota defeated Nebraska 30-23 on Saturday, Fleck said it was a matter of "culture'' defeating "skill.''

Nebraska head football coach Scott Frost speaks after practice Wednesday at Memorial Stadium.

So, Fleck essentially was saying that Frost had better players but that the "culture'' Fleck built overcame a dramatic difference in talent. 

"I don't make a habit of listening to those press conferences," Frost, the fourth-year Husker coach, said Wednesday. "Our culture has come 100 miles. I love where our culture is right now. 

"I think they have some skilled players, too," Frost added. "So I'm surprised to hear that." 

Fleck probably wasn't boasting about his program's culture Sept. 25 after it lost to Bowling Green. 

Frost said he hadn't previously heard of Fleck's postgame comments from Saturday. That surprises me. 

It's interesting that Fleck is telling everyone that Nebraska has more "skill'' than Minnesota. After all, it's Fleck's job to acquire more skill than NU. Perhaps he's referring to the loss of running backs Mo Ibrahim and Trey Potts to injury. 

Fleck has the upper hand on Frost at the moment with a 3-1 record against the Nebraska coach. It's not exactly a friendly situation. Remember, Frost in July mentioned a certain coach's "sloganeering'' during Big Ten Media Days. 

It's possible Fleck wanted to highlight his program's culture as a way to sell himself to higher-profile programs looking for a head coach.

I don't think his act would play particularly well in a blue-blood program along the lines of, say, USC or LSU.  

Frost probably wouldn't mind if a school in another league gave Fleck a chance. 

2. Recruiting talk: One of Frost's central themes was the need for Nebraska to "get over the hump" as a program. 

The Huskers have to "get an inch better," said Frost, ostensibly in reference to his 5-17 record in one-score decisions. 

Of course, this is partly a recruiting discussion, and Frost gave us some illuminating comments in that regard. 

"This recruiting class, we're going to focus on maybe some immediate-impact guys a little more — probably not sign as many freshmen," he said. "When you're as close as we've been, one or two more pieces — one or two more guys — will get you over the hump." 

With that in mind, he said, Nebraska will turn much of its attention to the transfer portal and junior colleges. 

The tenor of the conversation seems to jibe with something I've been saying for some time (and seems self-evident): First- and second-round NFL talent helps greatly in close games when a team desperately needs someone to make a big play or plays late in the contest. 

Nebraska hasn't had an NFL first-rounder since cornerback Prince Amukamara in 2011.  

Nebraska hasn't had an NFL second-rounder since 2015 (running back Ameer Abdullah and defensive end Randy Gregory).  

Parker Gabriel and Steven M. Sipple deliver the latest Huskers' two-minute rundown Wednesday at Memorial Stadium.

If Nebraska had Abdullah and Gregory against Minnesota last week, it would've prevailed.   

It's not always that simple. But it's often that simple. 

3. Assessment of Martinez: One absolutely has to take into account Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez's health situation when evaluating his subpar performance against Minnesota.  

Frost believes that. I certainly believe it.

"We took it into account before the game," he said. "Some of the option stuff and quarterback run stuff that we might have added to the game plan just wasn't going to be available to us." 

Stop right there and think about it. If I would've known Nebraska wasn't going to have Martinez available in the run game — he carried six times for 2 yards (not counting two sacks) — there's little chance I would've picked the Huskers to win. 

The conversation underscores Martinez's value as a runner, "and we have to play better around him," Frost said. 

No doubt about that. 


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