Coming back from spring break, it’s hard to believe that Nebraska head coach Scott Frost thought he was going to see the best from his new charges, but that doesn’t mean he accepts anything less than maximum effort.
While it’s difficult to unpack quite a bit out of two whole practices — let alone one following a week-long layoff — there are still a few nuggets worth highlighting from the Huskers’ most recent morning grind.
1. Another Osborne wrinkle shows up
Tom Osborne, Frost’s mentor, was a big believer in putting an emphasis on special teams. In Go Big Red: The Ultimate Fan's Guide to Nebraska Cornhusker Football written by Michael Babcock, it’s noted that Osborne didn’t even refer to the units as “special teams,” but rather “kicking teams.”
Osborne said of these squads, “Our philosophy here has been, basically, to put the best possible players on these kicking teams.”
Frost practically echoed Osborne on Tuesday saying, “The best teams in the country have their best players on special teams. We will certainly not have our starters on all four, but I want guys to understand how important special teams is. We want our best talent on the field for those plays.”
2. Meshing excitement with current personnel
Frost talked about how his team has dived headfirst into the new system and his culture noting players are putting more effort into academic and athletic endeavors. After coming off of a 4-8 season and program morale being at a historical low, having the opportunity to work with such an energetic staff has worked wonders.
One player that Frost was specifically asked about as someone who could contribute significantly is sophomore wide receiver JD Spielman. A third-team All-Big Ten honoree last season, Spielman is the type of athlete Frost wants in his offense. In fact, the Husker head coach visited the Eden Prarie, Minnesota, native in high school during Frost’s time at Oregon as the Ducks felt they could utilize his abilities.
He also brought up sophomore Tyjon Lindsey unprompted as another player who could make quite a few plays in space after bringing the ball in.
3. Signal-caller situation settled... for now
Some quarterbacks’ names have come up as potential graduate transfer options such as Arizona’s Brandon Dawkins and Ohio State’s Joe Burrow. Dawkins left the Wildcats’ program following Rich Rodriguez’s departure and Burrow might not have the opportunity to start as a junior at Ohio State.
However, Frost emphasized that the team is happy with the quarterback room as it is and that the focus is getting the guys on campus to soak up their new roles like a sponge. He did say that the quarterback situation may be revisited following spring practice, however. For now, it appears that the names currently on the roster should be focused on the most.
4. Names pop up at running back
Frost had plenty of praise for early enrollees and junior college transfers but praised junior college transfer Greg Bell for his early work. Another name that popped up unprompted was Devine Ozigbo’s.
According to his head coach, Ozigbo has slimmed down and has put in excellent work in all facets of the program. Frost did mention that he’s looking for a quality stable of backs and if Ozigbo can continue to improve over the spring and summer, he could be in line for a solid senior season.
5. Two players behind the eight ball?
Running back Tre Bryant didn’t practice on Tuesday and his return date appears to be unknown. The more snaps players like Bell, Ozigbo, Jaylin Bradley and others get, the more he’s going to have to come out firing on all cylinders. Medical concerns have many wondering if he’ll even be able to do that if and when he’s cleared to participate.
Offensive lineman Cole Conrad also didn’t practice and as a result, Frost reported some high snaps from youngsters getting used to the new pace of his offense. That said, Conrad’s health issue doesn’t seem to be as significant as Bryant’s.
Quote of the Day
"I play for Nebraska and I’ve got to take all obstacles head on" — Junior cornerback Lamar Jackson