Nebraska coach Scott Frost kicked off spring football on Wednesday with a news conference. The Huskers are set for one practice Friday before taking a week off for spring break. The decision to have the one practice pre-break was intentional.
“I didn’t want to do half of spring ball before spring break and half after,” Huskers coach Scott Frost said. “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 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 the Nebraska football team expected to dive in head first, any and all questions will start to sort themselves out. The four weeks of spring practice before the spring game on April 21 will start that process.
In the meantime, what should Nebraska fans be watching for during spring practice? Let’s take a look at some of the bigger storylines of the spring.
Plenty of competition
Frost and his staff bring a fresh set of eyes to Nebraska and will use that as a strength to evaluate the roster. The staff has had an opportunity to get to know the team during winter conditioning. Frost has an idea of the talent Nebraska has on its roster but is cautious to set anything in stone until he sees the players on the practice field.
“We’re getting to know the players as football players and also as people and look forward to getting to know them better and developing those relationships,” Frost said. “Spring ball is going to tell us a lot.”
One of those position groups that will say a lot is quarterback. Frost likes what he’s seen from sophomore Patrick O’Brien and redshirt freshman Tristan Gebbia. With the addition of freshman Adrian Martinez, the quarterback room could create quite a bit of competition.
Frost isn’t worried, though. As with all positions, he’s ready for the players to begin competing.
“We’re not really worried about who’s a one or who’s a two right now,” Frost said. “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.
“Usually by the time you get as many reps as we get in in spring ball and fall camp, it’s pretty obvious who the best guys are.”
Speaking of reps …
There will be a lot of reps in spring practice. The reasoning is simple, too.
“We have to learn the offense, learn the defense, we have to be crisp,” Frost said. “The more reps we can get, the better. Repetition makes you better at anything. We practice at a fast pace, we’re going to get a lot of repetitions. You don’t get better without practicing and we want as many guys up and moving and practicing as we can get.”
Frost’s mindset is that players can’t play fast on Saturdays in the fall unless they’re used to it from practice. That means Friday will kick off a high-tempo spring for Nebraska, which will lend itself to practicing (and eventually playing) fast.
“We want to get at least 130-to-140 reps of team and 7-on-7, and that’s got to be split up amongst a lot of guys,” Frost said. “You start adding up those repetitions every time and that’s where you can really dial in the execution because guys have a lot of practice doing things.”
When asked about the biggest difference between the 3-4 he runs and the previous staff’s 3-4, Frost was quick with an answer.
“The biggest difference is hopefully we can get some stops,” Frost said.
Don’t take that as too big of a slight at the previous staff. Frost went on to say he respects former defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, having played against him at Central Florida when Diaco was at UConn. Frost admitted that he’s not familiar enough with Diaco’s schemes to know the nuances and differences, though.
For the players, it’s back to Square 1. Sophomore defensive lineman Ben Stille admitted that it’s going to be a bit of a learning curve, but he’s confident the players will get it figured out.
“From just how he’s explained it to us, you definitely get that sense [that it will come naturally], but right now it’s overwhelming a little bit,” Stille said.
While there may be some hurdles to overcome, Frost does believe he has good players to run his defense. Nebraska needs more, of course, but Frost likes the direction it’s going.
“The players here, I love the buy-in and the work ethic that they have shown us so far,” Frost said. “We’ll get a lot out of those guys, so looking forward to watching them practice in the spring and watching them improve.”