ATLANTA ― Troy Walters is Nebraska’s new offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach, but he’s still wearing another hat ― for now.
Until the end of the Peach Bowl on Monday, he also is UCF’s interim coach.
As the Knights prepare to face Auburn in the game (12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN), Walters isn’t turning his focus to his new role just yet. He’s fully committed to helping to lead UCF to a Peach Bowl win.
“This is all about the 2017 season and what these young men have accomplished,” Walters said Friday. “We want to finish. That’s been the focus. As a staff we’ve been all in. We’ve been 100 percent committed to these guys, and we want to finish what we started. So those guys know that this is all about the 2017 season, the 2017 team, and finishing what we started.
“It’s been a tremendous season, and, you know, the preparation, the focus, the process, what got us here was the process each day, studying our playbook, you know, going out, practicing, making sure that we studied our opponent, and that’s what we’ve done all these last two weeks.
“The process hasn’t changed, and that’s what’s gotten us to 12-0, and we are looking to go 13-0 on Monday.”
In between bowl game practices and preparation, coach Scott Frost, Walters, and the rest of Nebraska’s new football staff have balanced recruiting and other duties for the Huskers. While Walters has been described as the “as-needed head coach” to Frost as “game day head coach,” he never felt like the staff — and especially Frost — had to make any concessions to make it all work.
In fact, Walters said he never felt he had to step in for Frost during this period of time.
“First few days when he made — when they made the announcement, he had to fly to Nebraska, so I was around for the first three or four days right after the announcement,” Walters said. “But you know, once they hired Josh Heupel — you know, really Coach Frost has been around as much as he can. You know, we really hadn’t … skipped a beat. It’s really been the same as the regular season. That’s what we wanted.
“As a staff, we wanted to coach these guys. We wanted to finish. Coach Frost wanted to finish, and we wanted to be as routine as it could be. We want familiarity. What we’ve done all year, that’s what we’re doing leading up to this game, and that gives us the best chance to win.”
For players such as UCF tight end Jordan Akins, it’s been business as usual. While the coaching staff will look much different for the Knights come next week, that hasn’t been a focus for now.
Instead, Frost and his staff have done what they can to keep to the routine for the UCF players.
“They have their talks with us, you know, limited to, doing just anything,” Akins said. “It’s a lot of events, a lot of team bonding, a lot of bonding.
“They do a really good job of that. It’s not just us going crazy.”
Quarterback McKenzie Milton agreed. Elaborating specifically on Walters’ thoughts on how Frost has handled the transition period, Milton said he felt the staff has done exactly what was needed to give UCF the chance to win against Auburn.
Milton also acknowledged the work Frost and his staff have done for the Huskers, balancing it all and never making anyone feel less than important.
“I give our coaching staff a lot of credit,” Milton said. “They would be out till the wee hours of the night recruiting for Nebraska and then still coming to practice at 7, 8 a.m. to help us game plan and get ready for this bowl game. That’s a lot of credit to them, and that just shows the dedication they have to this ball club and that they are really bought in just as much as we are. So I give them a lot of credit.
“I’m very grateful for the time we’ve had with them, and just the way they have bought into us. It’s been a special ride with them and we want to finish it the right way.”