LINCOLN, Neb. — The jet sweeps landed, even if the wide receiver passes didn’t. Nebraska’s offense right now is like a kid taking the wheel of James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 for the first time, trying to figure out what the heck all these cool buttons do.
“It’s just on us. If we get on the ball faster …” Cornhuskers wideout Tyjon Lindsey told Land of 10 after the 2018 spring game, his eyes widening with glee.
“It’s only 50 percent of what y’all see right now. We have so many other plays, trick plays, coming in.”
Lindsey grinned. Then he tried like crazy to hustle the cat back into the bag.
“I’m not saying anything else. All I’m going to say is just, ‘Stay tuned.’”
If Saturday was any teaser, this is going to be fun. It won’t be perfect. It won’t be clean right out of the chute. It’s a process, not a promise.
No fear of failure means, as a staff, you try stuff. Wacky stuff. Loopy stuff. Lindsey, the speedy 5-foot-9 sophomore, in the backfield. Tight ends out wide. Quarterbacks catching passes out of the slot.
What applies to the option game applies to the imagination, too: While the honeymoon is young, why the heck wouldn’t you run wild?
“I know with Coach [Scott] Frost, that type of mindset he has, [offensive coordinator] Troy Walters, he’s going a long way with this,” Lindsey continues. “And he knows what he has.”
He has pieces. Good ones. Some — such as the departed quarterback Patrick O’Brien — that just didn’t quite fit, didn’t translate.
Others, such as Lindsey, could be absolute hellions in this scheme, the kind of speed that plays anywhere.
When Frost was an offensive assistant for Chip Kelly at Oregon, a Los Angeles track star named De’Anthony Thomas shot into the national spotlight as one of the most exciting things in college football. As a freshman in 2011, Thomas ran the ball 55 times and caught 46 passes, averaging 11.9 yards per touch from scrimmage. The next year, Thomas racked up 1,146 yards from scrimmage and scored 16 touchdowns, combined, rushing and receiving.
Lindsey was recruited by the previous coaching staff and, understandably, considered his options when Mike Riley was fired. But he also saw himself in Thomas, and when the former Ducks star got in his ear and told him what’s coming from Frost and Walters could be the best darned football thing that ever happens to him, it stuck.
‘I’m not saying anything else. All I’m going to say is just, “Stay tuned.”‘
— Nebraska wideout Tyjon Lindsey on Scott Frost and the Nebraska coaching staff
“Yeah, [they’ve got] that poker face type of mentality, where you look at your coaches, you’re like, ‘They’re not worried, I shouldn’t be worried at all,’” said Lindsey, who led the Red team with 4 catches on Saturday and carried the ball once for a 28-yard gain.
“They know what they’re doing. So [we] might as well just have that poker face as well. It’ll translate on the field and [in] the numbers.”
The Red team’s numbers: 269 rushing yards on 50 attempts, 239 passing yards on 30 throws, and 49 points. Running backs Greg Bell (54 rushing yards), Mikale Wilbon (54) and Wyatt Mazour (52) combined for 160 on the ground. Freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez rumbled for 60 more.
“They’re getting a lot of dudes in there; it’s not just one back,” Lindsey said. “It’s not just a running back that’s in the backfield. You’ve got wideouts in the backfield, tight ends motioning. They’re doing a hell of a lot of trickery.”
Out came that smile again.
“When that comes to real games, in-season, we’ll see what it does,” Lindsey said. “I’m pretty sure it’ll translate, just like Oregon when Coach Frost was there. Maybe even better.”