Nebraska vs. Purdue, 10/28/17

Purdue running back Richie Worship (34) drags Carlos Davis (96), Mick Stoltenberg (44) and Mohamed Barry (7) on a first-half carry Oct. 28 at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Ind.

GWYNETH ROBERTS, Journal Star

Let's do this.

1. When Dave Rimington offers up football opinions, it makes sense to listen. He obviously understands the game at a high level. Plus, he's the type who thinks before talking, or tweeting.

He tweeted the following Tuesday: "While all eyes will be on Coach Frost's offense it will be his defense that I will looking at. The (Big Ten) West belongs to Wisconsin and it will stay there until we stop the run game. We desperately need man-eaters on the DL ... I can't stress that enough."

Preach on, Mr. two-time Outland Trophy winner.

Nebraska ranked 115th in rushing defense this season, allowing 214.8 yards per game, including 353 against Wisconsin (7.2 per carry) on Oct. 7 in Lincoln. The Badgers ran the ball 22 straight times to close out a 38-17 win.

Wisconsin (12-1) ranks 21st nationally in rushing entering bowl season, averaging 229.2 yards. True freshman running back Jonathan Taylor will be a leading candidate next season to win the Heisman Trophy.

Rimington hopes Taylor doesn't boost his candidacy against Nebraska come Oct. 6 at Camp Randall Stadium.

"You can be great on offense, but if you can't slow them down -- even like a speed bump -- I mean, it was ridiculous this season against them," said Rimington, the best center in Nebraska history, who served as Husker interim athletic director in the time between Shawn Eichorst's firing Sept. 21 and Bill Moos' hiring Oct. 15.

I caught up with Rimington Wednesday morning as he worked in New York for the Boomer Esiason Foundation. Make no mistake, Rimington is excited about the hiring of Scott Frost as Nebraska's 30th head football coach. A native of south Omaha, Rimington shares in the excitement of the fan base and former players.

However, "(Frost's staff) has a lot of guys out recruiting and giving offers, and I'm just hoping they pick up a few defensive linemen," he said. "All you have to do is watch the game against Wisconsin. The first order of business on any defense is stop the run. If you can't stop the run, you have nothing. You can't win. They need to figure out that one first."

Following the loss to the Badgers, the Huskers lost six of their last seven games.

"After the Wisconsin game, we were totally beat up the next week against Ohio State," he said in reference to a 56-14 loss.

"We have to have the guys up front who can compete, and you have to have enough of them that the following week you have something left in the tank," Rimington said.

"I know Scott wants to go fast on offense," he added. "That's great. And I have no doubt we're going to be great. We're going to look back a few years from now and say, why didn't we do this three years ago when we picked (Mike Riley)?

"I have a lot of confidence Scott's going to do a good job."

Rimington's right, though. It all starts up front, especially in a conference as rugged as the Big Ten.

2. Which leads us in seamless fashion to Nebraska's recruitment of Lincoln Southeast senior defensive lineman Bryson Williams. 

What are the Huskers' chances of prying Williams from his verbal commitment to Wisconsin?

"I think they're fairly high at this point," Sean Callahan, veteran recruiting expert for HuskerOnline.com, said Wednesday during "Early Break" on 93.7 FM.

The 6-foot-2, 295-pound Williams was the first in-state player to receive a scholarship offer after Frost took the Nebraska job. Frost visited Williams' home Sunday night along with Barrett Ruud, the Huskers' new linebackers coach.

Thing is, Frost recruited Williams while he was at Central Florida, so there's an established relationship.

Masry Mapieu, a 6-4, 300-pound defensive lineman from York, has been committed to Nebraska since mid-June.

"Bryson's a better player, but Masry's a different player -- a bigger, stronger nose guard while Bryson's kind of a 'tweener, especially in a 3-4," Callahan said.

Let's simplify the discussion. Williams is an excellent player, and good coaches recruit excellent players and find spots for them -- which is what Frost is trying to do with Williams.

Will Williams change his mind? It's one of Nebraska's most intriguing recruiting story lines at the moment.

3. Tommie Frazier, the former Husker quarterback great from Bradenton, Florida, who immediately preceded Frost as the starter, isn't exactly swept up in Frost euphoria.

Frazier essentially had words of caution about the hiring of Frost during a Facebook Live interview this week.

"I'm still hearing pockets (of people) out there -- more pockets than not -- that they didn't think this was a good hire," Frazier said.

More pockets than not? Really?

Seems Tommie is a bit tone deaf.

"Then I'm hearing a handful of people saying it was a great hire," he said. "Then I'm hearing a handful of people in wait-and-see mode.

"I think more people are happy because it's a Nebraska guy. That's the major part of it. I just want to caution people that it doesn't necessarily need to be a Nebraska guy. It didn't need to be a person who truly understood the Nebraska culture. But it needed to be a guy who could go out and number one, recruit, and two, win football games. Because you can be a Nebraska guy and (if you) don't win football games, people aren't going to like you."

Frazier did say "it was the smartest" hire for Nebraska to make. At least he got that part right.

4. While we're on the subject of Frazier, this came from the Creighton basketball program's official Twitter feed Tuesday night, causing something of a stir among Nebraska fans:

Frazier apparently had a nice view of Creighton's 111-68 home win against North Dakota.

Nebraska plays Creighton at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Omaha. So, yeah, the tweet's timing was interesting.

Maybe Creighton was feeling overshadowed this week by all the Frost talk.

Bizarro world.

5. Let's stay with hoops: Nebraska picked up a critical win Tuesday night. And let's be clear: there was nothing flukish about the Huskers' 78-68 triumph against 14th-ranked Minnesota.

Tim Miles' crew looked like the better team.

Meanwhile, Minnesota (8-2, 1-1 Big Ten) looked surprisingly lax as Nebraska established control in the first half. If I were Gophers coach Richard Pitino, my concern today would be the lack of urgency the players showed. UM is a talented team, but depth is a major issue. Maybe it would help matters if some players feared a loss of playing time.

Granted, the regular season has limited importance in college basketball. But still, one would think Minnesota would be interested in having a special season. The Gophers didn't seem overly interested in locking down hard against Nebraska (7-3, 1-1).

But give Nebraska full credit. It played hard and well, and picked up a big shot of confidence in a rugged stretch of games.

6. A toast to simpler times ... 

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com.

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Husker columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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