Photo Credit: John Peterson

Drake’s Takes: The Scott Frost Decision and Husker Hoops

November 12, 2021

This week’s Drake’s Takes goes over the decision to keep football head coach Scott Frost, the outlook for the team going forward, and an overview of the opening performances for both basketball squads.

Scott Frost is Back

Nebraska football, as many predicted as a possibility, ensured earlier this week that Scott Frost would be back as head coach in 2022. 

As far as the move goes, sure. Frost’s time coaching Nebraska has been very unimpressive so far, but if you want to try and stretch it one more year to truly confirm whether he can be the guy, go ahead. 

What has caught my eye the most was everything that came after the announcement that he’d be retained. First, the Huskers went on to let go of every offensive assistant besides tight ends coach Sean Beckton. 

I’m simultaneously surprised and unsurprised by this. On one hand, these changes needed to happen. On the other, it was a bit shocking that Frost let go of everyone outside of the only one that was already perceived as a guarantee to stay. The timing wasn’t expected either, although in hindsight, that makes sense.

Arguably the most jarring thing to me, though, was hearing Trev Alberts’ quotes on the matter. 

“There’s not a lot of empirical data out there to suggest this will work, let’s be honest,” he said earlier this week. “But I also think, if there’s a decision point—whether it’s football or anything else, you know, Scott’s a brother, he’s a Husker, and he’s a Nebraskan.”

The best thing I can say is thank you to Alberts for being honest. 

Other than that, I don’t understand this mentality. Yes, the record on fourth-year losing coaches turning things around isn’t great. But, even being more pessimistic on the Frost era, there are some decent arguments for keeping him. 

Instead, Alberts admitted that he’s simply giving Frost the benefit of the doubt because of where he happened to be born. To me, that’s a terrible argument. I understand wanting to see Frost succeed here. But Alberts saying that he was “looking” for a way to keep the coach in his position should sound some alarms. 

If Frost turns things around next year, this conversation won’t matter anyway.

Looking Ahead

Going off of that, I’ve been thinking about the next season a bit already. I’m not too encouraged at this moment. 

There are a few things going in the Huskers’ favor. The schedule will be easier. Whoever is hired in the assistant positions can hopefully bring some new life to a struggling offense. 

Past that, there are some creeping worries. The first of those is the quarterback situation. If Adrian Martinez stays another year, you’re probably set. That’s a player who can win you six or more games, and I don’t know if I see him leaving the Huskers.

But a huge problem arises if he opts not to return. With all due respect to the backups, Frost didn’t trust Smothers to see a single snap over Martinez, who has been playing with multiple injuries. I’m not saying he should start, but you’d think Frost could at least give him a few designed run plays. Those plays existed for Luke McCaffrey. Other teams do it too. 

There’s going to be quarterbacks available in the transfer market, but we’ll see if Frost can bring in someone talented enough to match Martinez’s impact. 

Other than that, the rest of the offense’s outlook doesn’t look amazing. Rahmir Johnson has been a solid running back, but the team needs more than that. Offensive line improvement is a must. The Huskers’ top two pass-catchers this year, Austin Allen and Samori Touré, could both be gone next year.  

Experience and development shouldn’t be ignored when I say this, but it may be worth noting that the most productive skill position players outside of quarterback under Frost have either transferred away, been recruits from the Mike Riley era, or both. 

This doesn’t mean there isn’t Frost-recruited talent on the offense (Johnson and Zavier Betts are particularly interesting candidates for a 2022 breakout), but I have my concerns about how much improvement there will be there on that side of the ball. 

Defensive regressions should also be a concern, given that multiple impactful starters on the defense will be leaving. The unit should still be good enough to keep the Huskers in most games, but might not be shutting down top teams again. 

A favorable schedule can only take Nebraska so far next year. It’s going to be an interesting offseason, and these last two weeks with some staff shakeups should give us a little bit of a clearer picture of the future. 

Basketball Disappointment and Hope

Nebraska men’s basketball also couldn’t escape disappointment this week, losing a home game to Western Illinois. 

The rebounding was horrendous, but there were some encouraging signs. Alonzo Verge and Bryce McGowens combined for 51 points, although both on less than 50% shooting from the field. It’s not time to hit the panic button yet, given the talent level on this team.

The Huskers will also hope that Keisei Tominaga has a bigger impact moving forward after he made just one of five 3-point attempts in the game. That’ll happen sometimes with shooters, so again, nothing to panic about. 

At the same time, Nebraska has had bad luck with 3-point specialists the past two years. I’m confident that Tominaga will still be an impact player, but it’s something to watch.

Nebraska women’s basketball has not struggled with the start of its season, however, putting up more than 100 points in both of its first two games.

Not to sound like an old man, but I’m still in wait-and-see mode with this team. I won’t knock them for doing what they were supposed to, because other Husker teams have shown that isn’t a guarantee, but it’ll be interesting to see how they match up with stronger opponents. 

Jaz Shelley definitely deserves praise though, as the transfer from Oregon has averaged 15 points, six rebounds and four assists through two games. She’s also hit 8-of-11 shots from beyond the arc. 

There’s a lot to be encouraged about when it comes to the women’s team early this year, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the rest of the year plays out. 

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