The Nebraska football team will hold its first spring practice next Friday, and head coach Scott Frost was live in studio on ‘Sports Nightly’ Wednesday night to give a preview and to take listeners’ calls.
Frost was on for the entire 7:00 hour with Greg Sharpe of the Husker Sports Network to discuss the work done in the weight room thus far and how the team is starting to look with spring practice just around the corner.
“It’s really impressive,” Frost said of the conditioning work. “I’ve seen some before and after pictures. It kind of looks like ‘The Biggest Loser.’ You see a picture of someone seven weeks ago before they started with (head strength coach) Duval and what they look like now. There’s guys making really big gains, cutting body fat, getting more lean.”
Recruiting was a big topic right off the bat. Only a month ago, Frost and his staff secured 24 signees on National Signing Day, ultimately compiling a recruiting class that ranked in the top 25 on both Rivals and 247 Sports.
One of the first questions was about how the coaching staff plans to use the Spring Game as a recruiting tool as they continue to build up the 2019 recruiting class.
Frost confirmed Wednesday night that there will be no official visitors for the Red-White Scrimmage on April 21.
“We’re not planning on bringing people in spring,” Frost said. “We’ll bring people in for the games. I think seeing a Nebraska game will leave a good impression in anybody’s mind. I guess you could argue bringing people to Nebraska in October is better than bringing them in January.”
Nebraska brought in 11 official visitors in the month of January. Six of those 11 signed with the Big Red.
The Huskers’ depth chart is going to look drastically different at a number of positions this season, with many starting jobs up for grabs beginning this spring. One key position of question is offensive line.
Left tackle Nick Gates left a year early to declare for the NFL Draft, but they return plenty of players with experience, including seniors Cole Conrad, Tanner Farmer and Jerald Foster, junior Michael Decker who will miss the spring with a leg injury, and sophomores Brenden Jaimes and Matt Farniok.
“We’re going to get the best five linemen on the field that we possibly can,” Frost said. “Nebraska used to be offensive line U, and we want it to be offensive line U. The pipeline was a big deal when I was here.”
With Tanner Lee declaring for the NFL Draft, Nebraska’s quarterback position is wide open. Many point to redshirt freshman Tristan Gebbia as the favorite, while some believe that true freshman Adrian Martinez, a four-star who enrolled early this January, could take people by surprise and be ready to start right away. Sophomore Patrick O’Brien is the only one in the quarterback room that’s actually seen reps in a live college game.
“Quarterback is going to be a work in progress,” Frost said. “We’re going to let all of those guys compete. Everybody is going to get a fair shake and a fair opportunity…(Patrick and Tristan) have both been doing a great job. I can see them getting stronger. They can both really throw it, they’re picking things up well. In our offense, you don’t need to (run) a 4.4-second (40-yard dash). You just need to be an effective runner.”
Nebraska will hold one practice next Friday, take a week off for spring break, and then begin practice fully on March 26th. The spring game is on April 21. One other big change to the spring schedule is morning practices, which haven’t been mandated at Nebraska in more than 30 years.
“It’s great physiologically to get up out of bed and get moving,” Frost said. “Our kids are going to be able to do that. I think you’re at your best and at your highest testosterone point in the morning, so we’ll be able to get more out of them in the morning. Kids aren’t going to miss workouts or practice. If you know you have a hard practice the next day, you’re not going to be doing too many dumb things the night before, so it keeps us out of trouble in that way, too.”
This and That
- Frost said he has started watching tape of the 2017 games, “just to get a feel for the personnel more than anything.”
- Tom Osborne created “The Unity Council” for the Nebraska Football team in 1991, with the help of then-team psychologist Jack Stark. It was created for the purpose of creating better unity and leadership on the team. It was brought back in the Bo Pelini era, but has since been abandoned. Frost said he’s considering bringing it back, but it’ll take a little time.
“You kind of have to train everybody in what your culture is going to be and you have to develop the leaders that can take over and help be part of the decision-making process,” Frost said. “It’s going to take us awhile to get to a point where I’m going to be comfortable handing the control over to some (of the current players), but I think we’re going to do it, because it was such an important part of our success.”
Frost didn’t start “The Unity Council” until his second season at UCF.
- One rule change that was brought up was the possibility of allowing true freshmen who redshirt to play in up to four games while still getting to keep their redshirt. Frost would be all for it if it’s allowed.
“I think it’d be great to be able to play four games and save the redshirt,” Frost said. “You get in situations as a coach where you have two games left, you’re trying to win the conference and two running backs get hurt. You’ve got a decision to pull a guys’ redshirt or not. In situations like that, it’d be nice to put a kid in and not burn his redshirt. I think it really protects the players.”
- Frost got several questions about rebuilding Nebraska’s culture, local recruiting and overall enthusiasm for football. One past Nebraska coach he commended was Coach Pelini, who finished his seven-year stint at Nebraska with a 67-27 record (.713), despite falling short in three conference title games and several other important battles with ranked opponents.
“(Bo) did a lot of things right,” Frost said. “We’re going to do as many things right as we know how, and I hope people are patient with us. If you’re going to build it the right way from the ground up, that’s going to take a little time, and we’re going to do things the right way.”
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— Husker Sports (@HuskerSports) March 8, 2018