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Things I know, and things I think I know (special midweek edition):

For the answer to Nebraska's starting quarterback question this week, it makes sense to go back in time.

It makes sense to dig up some comments that Scott Frost made soon after taking over as Husker head coach in December 2017.

As Frost settled into his new role, I posed a simple question: What are the most integral elements in which a quarterback must be proficient in order for Frost's fast-paced offense to excel? 

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"I think the No. 1 trait is they have to process information quickly," he said. 

He added that he wants his quarterbacks "to see things and think through things at an amazingly fast rate, especially at the pace we play." 

Fast forward to Monday when Frost told reporters that junior starter Adrian Martinez needs to process information quicker and get the ball out of his hands on time. Martinez, of course, was benched late in the third quarter of Saturday's 21-13 loss at Northwestern and replaced by redshirt freshman Luke McCaffrey, the Colorado kid. 

My read is McCaffrey, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound speedster, will be Nebraska's starter against Penn State on Saturday. Why? There are a few reasons, but Husker senior running back Dedrick Mills' candid postgame comments Saturday were telling in this discussion. 

"Luke was a good spark because Luke is more, to me, when it comes to tempo, he can move the ball more productively and faster," Mills said. "He looks to the sideline, gets back, everybody is set up and he snaps the ball quick, so it's just all about getting the defense on their (heels) and making them tired." 

In the passing game, McCaffrey made quicker decisions than Martinez. Once McCaffrey entered the game, the offense's pace quickened. Ah, yes, a fast-paced offense. Remember that concept? Frost on Monday made a revealing comment in that regard. 

"Part of the reason we haven't gone light speed around here (on offense) is we didn't want to leave the defense on the field that long," the coach said.

That's understandable. After all, Nebraska's defense last season allowed a pathetic 5.7 yards per carry in Big Ten play to rank last in the conference. This year, the Huskers look much more capable in the front seven. To wit: Ohio State and Northwestern have averaged 4.2 yards per carry. That's acceptable. 

Here's the deal: The defense's improvement could actually lead to a faster pace on offense. You know Frost wants it, and you know McCaffrey could help matters.

Frost has said McCaffrey and Martinez battled for the job during the preseason on basically even terms. On Saturday, Frost turned to McCaffrey because the coach was looking for a spark. One could take that comment to a macro level: Frost's program, which has dropped seven of its last eight games dating to last season, needs a spark. Fan apathy has to be a concern.  

Some people will tell you timing is everything in life. Guess maybe there's something to that. It seems like an apt statement in the case of McCaffrey right now because he indeed has the potential to provide the program with a needed spark. In a pandemic season, it makes even more sense to turn to him because he'll be a redshirt freshman again next season. In a sense, it's a throwaway season. Some regard it that way, anyway.

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I think most Nebraska fans would be awfully surprised if McCaffrey isn't the starter Saturday.

It feels like a good time to try it. 

* One more bit on the QBs: It makes sense for Frost to make McCaffrey earn the job in practice this week. For one, it shows Martinez the proper respect. But if I were Martinez, I would approach the situation like a boxer faced with trying to win a decision in an opponent's hometown. In other words, if Adrian expects to win, he better make it an easy call for the judges. 

* I've tried to guard against completely overreacting to Nebraska's 0-2 start. After all, Ohio State was an overwhelming favorite to beat NU, and Northwestern was a four-point favorite that won a close game. Is 0-2 really all that surprising? Not really. 

It's how Nebraska lost to Northwestern that has elicited frustration and concern throughout the Husker fan base. 

The same issues keep cropping up: Too many penalties and turnovers, red zone futility, shoddy special teams, shaky QB play and losing the third quarter. 

Am I missing anything?

By the way, Nebraska's offensive linemen had four penalties in the Huskers' first three possessions Saturday. It set the tone. 

"I think as a coach, and I know for our whole team, it makes you sick to your stomach," Husker offensive coordinator Matt Lubick said. "Those penalties, it's us beating ourselves." 

Lubick said coaches have to continue to emphasize to players the importance of playing with discipline, and also impart on players that there will be consequences if they don't. 

"It starts with the coaches, though," he said. "What could we have done better so those penalties don't happen? It keeps us up at night. How can we be more disciplined? That's way more important than any play we draw up. It's just very hard statistically to overcome those penalties."

* In chatting with Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos in the press box before the Northwestern game, I mentioned Husker center Cameron Jurgens' injury that kept him out of the game. I mentioned that Frost hasn't had a lot of luck at NU. 

"You make your luck," Moos said flatly. 

Can't argue with that. 

* Hearing from Big Ten sources that Purdue fans might have a bit of Rondale Moore fatigue, and even coach Jeff Brohm may be a bit frustrated that Moore hasn't played this season. 

* Also hearing that it would make sense to keep an eye on former Husker staffer Lance Leipold if Illinois were to fire Lovie Smith. Leipold is the head coach at Buffalo, a popular choice to win the MAC.

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