Wan’Dale Robinson is just a freshman, but Nebraska coach Scott Frost made it clear on Thursday that his offense must find ways to get the ball in the dynamic young player’s hands more often.
“We need to get him the ball,” Frost said. “You can see it pretty clearly that good things happen when the ball’s in (sophomore running back Maurice Washington)’s hands and good things happen when the ball’s in Wan’Dale’s hands.”
Offensive coordinator Troy Walters intimated on Wednesday that Robinson, a versatile athlete who played both running back and wide receiver in high school, could play more running back going forward. Frost agreed and said it’s in an effort to dial up Robinson’s workload.
“We need to create any way we can to get those guys with the ball,” Frost said. “And if we’re not getting one of them enough touches, then we’ve got to manufacture it and allow them to make the plays that they’re capable of.”
Handing a player the ball instead of throwing it to him is a good way to do that.
Robinson has been targeted a team-high 13 times in the passing game through two games and has six catches for 68 yards to go along with six carries for 30. He’s also returned three kickoffs for 77.
“Down the road I think you’re just going to be able to put him in wherever you want to and let him run the offense,” Frost said. “His first year he’s doing really well, but it’s hard to just move him and mix him and match him. So we’ve got to be smart with how we use him. But he’s capable of doing both. It’s just hard to overload him with three different positions right now.”
Kicking the tires: NU continued to try to navigate its kicking injuries this weekend by reaching out to the Nebraska club soccer team for any candidates with any experience kicking a football.
Frost confirmed the Huskers tried out three players and are working through paperwork with one now to get him added to the roster.
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“Somebody told me that had been here that Alex Henery actually came off the club soccer team, so we had some kids come and try out for us,” Frost said. “We’re going to give at least one of them a shot to work on it and see what he can give us. If nothing else, maybe some kickoffs through the end zone.”
Both Frost and special teams coordinator Jovan Dewitt were happy with senior punter Isaac Armstrong’s place-kicking debut against Colorado and NU also has redshirt freshman punter William Przystup and freshman walk-on Gabe Heins available as sophomore Barrett Pickering (leg/hip) and freshman walk-on Dylan Jorgensen (undisclosed) work through injuries.
Long-distance problems: Too often through two games, Nebraska’s offense hasn’t made hay on first down, creating long-yardage situations on second and third downs.
“We’ve been in too many situations early in the year where we’re trying to pick a perfect play,” Frost said. “And when you’re behind the chains and not in a rhythm, that’s what happens. And that’s not really who we are.”
NU has converted 36.7 percent of its third downs through two games.
“We’ve got to stick to what we know and what we can do well, and what the guys know and can do well,” Frost said. “And the key to that is having good first downs, having good second downs, so we’re not in (bad) situations.
“(Northern Illinois on) Saturday are going to stand six or seven up to the line of scrimmage and be coming from every direction on third and long. So as many third and longs as we can stay out of, the better off we are.”
— Chris Basnett and Parker Gabriel