Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Frost Talks Blackshirts, Hit Rate for Chunk Plays on Offense, and More

November 19, 2020

Husker head coach Scott Frost met with the media Thursday for one last time before Nebraska hosts Illinois on Saturday. Both programs are coming off their first win of the season and will look to keep the momentum going. 

“I think we’re ready,” Frost said. “That was the message all week, that you can’t relax after a win. You have to be that much more committed to being really good and to get better during the week.”

With a veteran-laden defense, Frost didn’t see any issues this week. “Those guys get it,” he said. On the offensive side, he called it a process. Nebraska has a redshirt freshman quarterback and three underclassmen starting on the line and a slew of young skill players, and those guys are leaning on veterans, he said. “I was pleased with the intensity and the attitude this week.”

Here’s more from Frost.

>> On Tuesday, defensive coordinator Erik Chinander announced the team had awarded Blackshirts to the defense following a 30-23 win over Penn State. He declined, though, to give out the names of who got them. Chinander said the players could reveal it themselves if they chose, but the tradition meant more to him than social media fodder.

Frost struck sort of the same tone on Thursday, though he did reveal who’d gotten the practice jerseys.

Nebraska awarded 12. All four starters in the secondary—Deontai Williams and Marquel Dismuke at safety, Cam Taylor-Britt and Dicaprio Bootle at corner—received Blackshirts. 

Will Honas, Collin Miller, JoJo Domann, Garrett Nelson and Caleb Tannor each got one from the linebackers. Nebraska has effectively started five linebackers lately with only two down linemen. Chinander called it his nickel package—Nelson and Tannor mimic defensive ends and Domann plays as a nickel backer.

On the defensive line, Ben Stille, Ty Robinson, and Damion Daniels also received Blackshirts.

“I think in recent years—and I might be guilty of it—those have been given out a little too easy,” Frost said. “We didn’t give any out until after this last game. They don’t have him permanently. If they don’t live up to the standards of the Blackshirt, they won’t keep them. 

“I don’t want this to be like Halloween, where you just walk up and knock on the door and get a piece of candy. It’s got to be a little harder than that.”

Frost said those 12 won Nebraska the game last week against Penn State. They deserve them. “But they have to keep doing the things that they need to do to continue to deserve them,” he said.

>> Nebraska hasn’t hit much in the way of home runs on offense. Explosive runs (10 yards or more) have been hard to come by for guys not playing the quarterback position. 

Only Wisconsin has fewer explosives than Nebraska in the Big Ten, and they’ve played one fewer game. Now, had Nebraska played that Wisconsin game that was canceled, it might be a smidge higher but the point is the offense isn’t an above-average Big Ten unit in terms of hitting chunk plays and that needs to be its floor in a normal year.

“We need to hit some more big plays in the offense so we don’t have to sustain as many drives,” Frost said. (As an offense, Nebraska is averaging a touchdown every 27 plays.) “Those need to come in the pass game and the run game. We’re going to be consistently working toward that.

“It’s interesting, our offense is probably a little different than some others in the league and it’s just funny to me how we get in games and people play us different than what we’ve seen on tape in about every game that we’ve looked at. We need to do a good job of adjusting to those things and creating some opportunities. … Part of that’s just we need to block a little better and break a tackle or make somebody miss from time to time. But, I think those things will come.”

Frost said he felt Northwestern two weeks ago showed them stuff they’d never seen Northwestern’s defense run. Illinois’ defense played Nebraska differently in 2019 (a 42-34 Nebraska win) than it did in 2018 (a 54-35 win). 

“We have to be able to adjust a little better to that,” Frost said. “That’s kind of what we’ve always dealt with running the offense that we’ve run with a little more heavy read and quarterback run.”

>> Asked about the new football facility project Nebraska is in the midst of, Frost said he’s had little input during the season. 

“A lot of schools have probably surpassed us in some areas of facilities,” Frost said. “We’re in Nebraska, we need to give kids as many reasons as we can give them to pick Nebraska over other places that they might be close to.”

The design process is still ongoing. Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos said during a radio appearance this week that process had not yet been finished. The COVID-19 pandemic has put up roadblocks a couple of times. 

“We still are hoping to have our design work done here shortly,” Moos said. “By shortly, I mean by the end of this month and be ready to put a shovel in the ground, hopefully, late spring and early summer. So basically, that would delay the project by exactly 12 months. And with the revised schedule we should be able to occupy the building in July, probably June or July of 2023.”

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