So with a day to process things, how’d the Huskers look on Saturday? Ahead of the curve? Behind schedule? About right?
These are tough calls to make based on 60 minutes of football-like football, but Scott Frost's answer to a question about if there was a moment when UCF "clicked" stood out from his time at the podium.
"It’s a different experience for us because we’ve been through the same thing with another team the last two years, and the team we were coaching before this probably didn’t click until fall camp of year two," Frost said. "I hope it happens sooner here, but that’s really when two years with Zach [Duval] in the weight room kind of took hold, that’s when two years of recruiting helped supplement our team, two years of being in our culture, two years of figuring out how to play as a team and care for each other, we even had some problems that second summer and when we got those cleaned up, everybody just seemed to bond and come together. It was a special group.
“I don’t know if it was one moment but nothing happens overnight, or at a flip of a switch, but you can just feel it coalescence and coming together and I think it’ll happen faster here from a culture standpoint because the guys are so hungry to do it but the rest of it is still going to take time and we’ll see when it all comes together and pops."
Good "Come Together" callback, there. And interesting comments overall. That two-year timeline was something we saw laid out in Bruce Feldman's story for Sports Illustrated last week. I'm not sure why it didn't click (to borrow a term) for me then, but hearing Frost say virtually the same thing on Saturday sent me back to the Peach Bowl.
Prior to that game offensive coordinator Troy Walters spent some time talking about UCF's growth on offense. The Knights averaged 13.9 points per game in 2015, 28.8 after one year with this staff (about average across college football) and 48.2 points at the end of 2017. It was even closer to 50 at that moment, before UCF played Auburn. But totals like that were far from a given as late as August.
"It was tough sledding in the spring and the fall, but it prepared us for what we were going to face during the season," Walters said in Atlanta. "[It gave] guys the confidence of mastering this offense. That’s what has gotten us this far. Those guys know the offense. Last year I couldn’t say that. This year they know the offense. Whatever we throw at them, the little wrinkles, they’re able to pick it up and they can go out and do it. I always say, ‘knowledge equals confidence equals playing fast.’ When you know what you’re doing you’re confident and you can play fast. That’s kind of been a transformation."
So you didn't see 50 points a game coming, I asked.
"No. Even fall camp we didn’t," Walters said.
But did you think it was possible?
"Yeah, it was possible," Walters said. "Because of the scheme. Because of the players we had. After the first game we saw what we could do."
I don't know when things are going to click at Nebraska. Certainly not after one spring game. But I'm guessing there will be a moment somewhere along the way. Nobody will notice it at the time. It won't be because this quarterback made that throw or that linebacker made this tackle, but there will be a point, only recognized in retrospect, when everything became different, a program became a team.
Frost said two years is when he started to see it, but 20 months into their UCF tenure Walters said he still didn't know what was coming.
Confident? Sure. Certain? Nope.
How long until the first game?
The Grab Bag
- Speaking of that UCF's old scheme, Josh Heupel's new scheme might be even better. (So says one columnist.)
- Kansas City Star columnist Sam Mellinger isn't having any of Kansas painting itself as a victim of the current college basketball investigation.
- Here is Paul Myerberg's story from Saturday's spring game for USA Today.
- ICYMI: You can catch up on all of our spring game content here. Also, Greg Smith caught up with a handful of recruits on hand for the game, with more on the way.
Today's Song of Today
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.