Nebraska football’s anticipated breakout 2019 season hit a serious snag over the weekend. The Huskers, supported by thousands upon thousands of fans making the trip, went West to face former conference rival Colorado.
The Huskers led by as much as 17-0 late in the third quarter. After giving up 256 yards and 24 points in the fourth quarter, Scott Frost’s team blew that lead, falling 34-31.
The coaching staff has caught serious criticism following the game, and Frost himself has pledged that it will get better, and soon. One of his main assistants hasn’t quite moved past it yet though.
Erik Chinander, the Huskers’ defensive coordinator, has owned up to the defensive collapse in the fourth quarter. He also brought up his serious issue with one decision by the referees that aided Colorado on its game-tying drive.
On a play with just over a minute left on the clock, Colorado quickly subbed out receiver KD Nixon for star Laviska Shenault, after Nixon caught a pass to make it 2nd-and-1. Nixon initially made his way to the huddle, but then came out.
When Nixon went out, Chinander tried and sub in defensive players. Instead, Colorado snapped the ball, and Nebraska got caught with too many players on the field.
The penalty was declined as Colorado picked up 10 yards on a run play, but the real damage was done by the clock stopping. The whole situation should’ve cost Colorado valuable time on the clock, but instead, it was stopped due to penalty, and Steven Montez found Tony Brown on a 26-yard touchdown to tie the game at 31.
From the Lincoln Journal Star:
“‘It’s that simple,’ Chinander told the Journal Star. ‘Really, if there’s any question when the ball goes to their sideline and gets tackled, they’re supposed to iron cross it because they don’t know if people are coming in and coming out.’
“Might that touchdown have still happened? Absolutely. But Chinander was clearly still frustrated three days later. In his estimation, the Huskers should have been allowed to run a whole set of players on and off to the far hash mark, which would have chewed up most of the play clock. Because they weren’t, the Buffs saved precious seconds, got a free play without his defense aligned and then had the clocked stopped until the game-tying snap.
“‘Because there was under a minute left on the clock, if they have to hold that ball, 20 more seconds roll off, it’s back on the (34),’ Chinander said. ‘Instead, they get 10 yards with no time off the clock and we get a penalty.
“‘It’s a huge penalty.'”
As Parker Gabriel says, it didn’t necessarily change the outcome, though it definitely made the comeback easier for Colorado. Four plays later, Adrian Martinez threw a backbreaking interception, setting up overtime, where Nebraska missed its 48-yard field goal attempt, and Colorado nailed one from 34-yards out to win.
Any Nebraska player, coach, or fan, Chinander included will admit that it was far from the decisive moment in the game.