LINCOLN – Nebraska Football begins spring practice on Friday with one morning session before the team takes a week off for spring break.
“We decided on this format for a bunch of reasons,” head coach Scott Frost said to the media Wednesday. “I didn’t want to do half of spring ball before spring break and half after. I’ve seen a couple college spring breaks on MTV and I’m not sure you’re going to get the most out of kids before or after that.
“With the way the rules are set up, by practicing on Friday we’ve been able to meet with the guys all week, which gave us a whole week of meetings to try to get them as familiar with our schemes. I think it’s going to also be beneficial to have them get a taste of what it’s like and then be able to go on spring break and come back with a little bit of an idea of what they have in front of them, and I think we’ll be able to accomplish more in spring because of that.”
With only one practice before spring break, it’ll be interesting to see what the team can accomplish on the field for the first time with the new coaching staff.
Even if it is more of a first impression, Frost has high hopes for the sole practice before a weeklong break.
“We want guys to dive in head first,” Frost said. “This is going to be a different practice format for them, it’s going to be a different tempo for them. There’s going to be a lot of new things. We’re just, right now, figuring out where to lineup for stretch. So, there’s going to be some sloppiness to the practices, but I don’t want to see guys dip their toe in the water, I want to see them dive in head first.”
In total, Frost wants to see 130-140 reps of 11-on-11 and seven-on-seven in each of the 15 practices this spring.
The Huskers begin spring practice at full speed on Monday, March 26, ending with the spring game on Apr. 21.
The following players will be held out of spring ball entirely:
- So. S JoJo Domann (knee)
- Sr. LB Luke Gifford (hip)
- Jr. C Michael Decker (leg)
The following could see at least limited snaps:
- Jr. RB Tre Bryant (knee surgery in October)
- Sr. RT Cole Conrad (ankle)
- Sr. LB Sedrick King (undisclosed injury)
This is one of the biggest positions of question heading into the spring and fall. Patrick O’Brien and Tristan Gebbia bring the most experience and talent back, while true freshman Adrian Martinez could also make a splash early. Frost plans to let this competition play itself out.
“We’re not really worried about who’s a one or who’s a two right now. Every competition is back open. Guys are going to get plenty of reps in practice the way we practice and I think it will probably figure itself out, and work itself out.
“Tristan and Patrick have been great. They’ve been good teammates, they’ve been working hard to learn. I haven’t got to see them do much with a football yet but have been really impressed with how they’ve handled everything and how they’ve gone to work trying to learn the new offense. I’m excited to see what those guys can do.”
Frost mentioned that quarterbacks will not go through contact this spring.
The offseason lifting program under strength coach Zach Duvall has been perhaps the biggest talking point, outside of recruiting, for the past three months. Frost said on Sports Nightly last week that the gains made by the team over the last 7-8 weeks remind him of The Biggest Loser in terms of progress.
“We’ve gotten a lot of buy-in from the players, a lot of effort out of the player and I see a lot of excitement,” Frost said. “They’ve adjusted to workouts really well and we’ve already seen huge gains from a lot of the workouts they’ve been doing. Zach Duvall is as good as there is in the business and before and after pictures and gains in the weight room and on the field have been pretty apparent to the coaches.”
The sophomore receiver was hospitalized for three in late January with rhabdomyolysis, which is a muscle injury resulting from the death of muscle fibers and the release of their contents into the bloodstream, particularly an oxygen-carrying protein called myoglobin.
Frost said Lindsey has made a strong recovery and should be just fine going forward.
“Tyjon is doing great,” Frost said. “He had that setback and again, I take responsibility for that. We have put them through some tough workouts but we did the best we could to monitor that and limit early workouts. Ever since then he’s done a great job. He’s gone to work learning. He looks quick and fast so I’m excited for him in spring ball.”
Nebraska hasn’t had a running back rush for 1,000 yards in a season since Ameer Abdullah did it in 2014. Frost is hopeful he can change that in 2018.
“I’m excited to see what they can do,” Frost said. “Obviously, we have to see where Tre (Bryant’s) health is. I watched the first few games, and he looked really good in those games. I think Devine (Ozigbo) and (Mikale) Wilbon both did really good things last year. Greg Bell is the guy we added to the mix as a junior college player. Jaylin Bradley from Omaha looks really good right now. We’re going to get all those guys reps and see who takes the offense the best.”
Defensive coordinator Erik Chinander also runs a 3-4 system. Coach Chinander says there won’t be a lot of differences in the way the players go about learning the plays. They’re just looking for much better results.
“The biggest difference is hopefully we can get some stops,” Frost said. “We’ve got good players here, and we need more of them. We are going to keep recruiting to our schemes. The players here, I love the buy-in and the work ethic that they have shown us so far.”
Frost coming back to coach the program where he won a national title as a star quarterback has stirred unprecedented excitement over the last three months. While it seems that Frost has constantly been on the road recruiting, or going back to Orlando to see his family, he has been able to take a few moments to soak it all in from time to time.
“I have strolled around a little bit, usually I have my head down going about my work,” Frost said. “Every once in a while I’ll see something that takes me back 20 years and then I get that surreal feeling. The practice facility has changed quite a bit, it’s beautiful now. I still remember getting hit really hard by Grant Wistrom on the field inside the track during a fall camp.
“I was walking across the track the other day and though about that. It’s exciting to be back. I spent a lot of time here. I have a lot of love for this place, a lot of memories, and looking forward to adding more.”
You can contact Tommy at 402-840-5226, or you can follow him on Twitter @Tommy_KLIN.