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The Scott Frost era officially began Saturday — and Nebraska's new football coach was saddled with his first loss in 631 days.

The weather-induced hiccup of a week ago is now merely a footnote, an afterthought that lingered in Lincoln well into Saturday morning and seems so trivial when compared to the reality of Saturday's 33-28 loss to Colorado that comes with the added anxiety about the status of QB Adrian Martinez's right knee.

A week ago, Husker Nation promised patience.

That commitment might be tested sooner than some expected.

"This is a process," Scott Prange, owner of Adams-based Prange Construction, said before Saturday's game. "It's one game at a time. ... We expect Colorado to be good. We know we are going to have to go through the gantlet this year. 

"We have to give him (Frost) time."

If last week's pregame excitement meter was amplified to an 11, Saturday's hovered a notch or two below that. Maybe it's hard for a fan base to maintain that kind of fervor for two straight weekends. Perhaps there was the realization that Colorado, a known quantity and rival dating back to the Big Eight Conference days, posed a real threat.

Or maybe it was the fear of the unknown for NU. New coach. New quarterback. New scheme.

It added to trepidation that was as thick as the overcast skies — and it wasn't helped when the Huskers began by fumbling on their first two possessions and spotting the Buffaloes a 14-0 lead. Still, it appeared they would overcome the horrid start, thanks to a strong ground game, a defense that came up big when needed over the first three quarters and the play of Martinez.

Martinez, a true freshman playing his first collegiate game, threw for 187 yards, rushed for 117 yards and accounted for three touchdowns.

However, when he hurt his right knee on a quarterback run late in the game, thoughts among Husker fans quickly returned to two weeks ago and the quarterback competition Martinez won over Tristan Gebbia, the redshirt freshman who responded to being named the backup by transferring to Oregon State.

"We can't control the rain today and you can't control someone who wants to be somewhere else," said Lincoln UPS driver Al Chambers before last week's abbreviated game.

That doesn't make the possibility of life without Martinez any easier to swallow. Regardless of whether it's Martinez or Andrew Bunch behind center next week against Troy — and in the coming weeks of the Big Ten season — the fan base expects the Huskers to fight for every yard and to be competitive.

"I want them to come out and play — to compete," said Jason Meininger, a Lincoln golf pro who was tailgating in the North Bottoms on Saturday. "I think that's what we all want. It seemed like they stopped competing for a while. We want that back."

That's the unspoken promise that comes with Frost. For now, it's his greatest value.

If merely competing sounds like a concession of sorts, keep in mind that it's tangible — and loaded with economic impact.

It's what prompted Prange and Aaron Schmidt to rescue an old fire truck off the scrap heap last spring and — about $10,000 later — unveil a tailgating machine that's equipped with satellite technology, two big-screen TVs and a stainless steel bar where the ladders once were housed. Inside, there is bench seating for a dozen people and an AstroTurf sitting area that will soon be lined and numbered to resemble a real gridiron.

"We want to add a few things, a few details to make it better," Prange said. "I was at the auction when the guy bought it. It sat on his hill for five years and then when we heard Scott Frost was coming, (Aaron) really wanted to tailgate this season, so I said, ‘OK, let’s go find something.’ We found the bar top with the polished aluminum and I said, 'This is our truck. Let’s make it work.'"

There are countless new tailgating vehicles around Memorial Stadium this fall, and millions of dollars in Frost-inspired T-shirts that come courtesy of his unspoken promise, Schmidt said.

"When I heard (Frost) was coming, I was excited for winning games again," he said. "But it was more than that. Having the atmosphere back mattered. He’s from Nebraska, we knew he was going to care. That’s why we wanted to be out here this year.

"We wanted to be a part of this atmosphere and as long as there is progress being made on the field, we can live with that."

Prange and Schmidt have a goal for this season: They want Larry the Cable Guy, an avid Husker fan, to pay their tailgate a visit so he can check out their fire truck.

"We feel like this is his atmosphere," Prange said. "We want him to come and party with us — before, during or after the game. We don’t care."

Game photos


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