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Jerald Foster paused for several seconds at a podium in the very weight room where he and his Nebraska teammates put in eight months’ worth of work designed to unlock uptapped strength and power.

Then he began to answer a reporter’s question about two failed fourth-and-short runs in the second half of Saturday’s 33-28 loss to Colorado.

“Offensive line … that hurts. It hurts, all right? We take it upon ourselves on those fourth-and-1s. I’m frustrated up here. I hope you can see that on my face,” the Husker captain said.

Indeed, the emotion was clear. For Foster and other veteran Nebraska players, Game 1 of the Scott Frost era must have been such a breath of fresh air in so many ways. Left guard Foster and his offensive line mates paved the way to 329 rushing yards and 565 yards total. By and large, they protected well. Overall, they clearly got the best of the CU defensive front.

“This isn’t a team that points fingers,” Foster said. “We’re one team, one heartbeat, so we’re not pointing fingers. But we do understand that the offensive line needs to be the ones to get that yard. And we will.”

And with that, Foster headed back to the locker room to join his teammates and turn the page toward Troy.

Details tripped up NU in all three phases against Colorado. What could have been an emphatic statement instead became a day of promise, yes, but also bitterness at an opportunity squandered.

“Little things, if it’s one of them, it isn’t that big a deal,” Frost said Thursday. “But when you make that many mistakes, and if you take away any one of them, that game is probably different.”

Pick any area and you can find examples. NU committed 11 penalties, including three crushers in the final 3 minutes, 29 seconds. Fumbles ended the team’s first two drives and drops marred two in the second half. An interception deflated another before it could even get off the ground. Two instances of safeties arriving a step slow resulted in two critical receptions for 77 yards and a score. Dicaprio Bootle had two hands on a sure interception and dropped it.

But over the course of the week, attention turns not to the problem on a macro level, but the micro. Take Antonio Reed’s late personal foul, for example. Travis Fisher on Tuesday had a simple answer for how he addressed it.

“Go to class on time. Come to practice and, if your ankle's supposed to be taped, they got to be taped. Have your pad and pencil at every meeting,” the secondary coach said. “It’s small things. … As a group and as a team, if we can do the small things right, then when you get put in that opportunity in the game (you’ll do it right).”

It’s easy to sense the frustration that Nebraska didn’t get a chance to work out some kinks against Akron instead of Colorado. It’s also reasonable to think that the Week 1-to-Week 2 jump that got talked about extensively last week will show against the Trojans.

Take, for instance, Frost’s thoughts on ball security.

“It’s hard to say we put more emphasis on it because we’ve been emphasizing it a lot, but sometimes kids don’t really believe you how important something is until they see it happen,” he said. “And I think the whole team now understands that, among other things, coughing two balls up is part of what got us beat.”

The closer the game, the longer a little thing’s shadow grows. In Week 1, too many teamed up to cast too much darkness over what nearly was a brilliant debut.

“Hopefully our guys have learned their lesson about that,” Frost said.

Breaking down the Huskers' opponents in 2018

Contact the writer at pgabriel@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. On Twitter @HuskerExtraPG.

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Sports writer

Parker joined the Journal Star as the University of Nebraska football beat writer in August 2017. He previously covered Montana State athletics for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2012.

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