Before taking the Central Florida job to work with Scott Frost, Troy Walters was at Colorado coaching wide receivers and serving as the team’s recruiting coordinator. He remembers wideout Jay MacIntyre and there are a few more leftovers from his time in Boulder.
Walters is also familiar with the Nebraska-Colorado rivalry, even though the last meeting was eight years ago. “Growing up as a kid, I used to watch it,” he said. “It’s a special game for many reasons.” But his focus isn’t really on the emotional side of a rivalry renewed. With three days to go before Nebraska “opens” it’s 2018 season, Walters is locked in on the technical stuff.
“They’re stout up front. They do a great job of rotating guys in, they play six, seven, eight guys up front and they’re going to try and control the line of scrimmage, stop you from running the ball,” Walters said. “They’re athletic in the secondary. [Safety] Evan Worthington is a great player. Their linebackers are active. [Linebacker Nate Landman] had something like 100 tackles last season. Rick Gamboa, No. 32, has played since he was a freshman so experienced linebackers, but it all starts up front.”
Asked if Colorado’s front would force the Huskers’ offensive line to change anything in their approach, Walters just shook his head.
“We’re not going to change anything. They know they’ve got to be ready to go. They’ve got to be physical. They’ve got a challenge in front of them,” Walters said. “Going against our defense in fall camp has prepared them for what they’re going to see. [Colorado is] an odd, three-down, similar to us so scheme-wise our guys have seen what they’re going to do.”
And that’s where Walters wants to see the Huskers dominate on Saturday. He said it’s going to be important for Nebraska’s receivers to make plays against a talented secondary when the ball is in the air, but it’s going to be even more imperative to win the line of scrimmage.
“We gotta run the football. We can’t drop back with a freshman quarterback, you can’t drop back 40 or 50 times,” he said. “With the amount of guys they play, the pressures they’re going to bring, a front three or four that are very active, we’ve got to establish the run game.”
Monday and Tuesday provided plenty of optimism about how the Huskers would perform following Saturday’s disappointment. Head coach Scott Frost said as much on Monday and then defensive coordinator Erik Chinander doubled down Tuesday. Walters pumped the brakes a bit Wednesday.
“Monday and Tuesday were excellent. Maybe the best Mondays and Tuesdays we’ve had in our three years together, it was that good,” he said. “Today guys were a little tired and we didn’t build off of what we established Monday and Tuesday.
“Overall, the work was good. Now it’s all mental, getting your bodies right, getting refreshed mentally, making sure you know your assignments and getting ready to go Saturday.”
Other News and Notes
>> Athletic Director Bill Moos held an impromptu press conference Wednesday to offer some updates and clarification on the canceled Akron game. Moos said if there's another weather-related issue like Saturday's in the future, there will be better communication.
"As we’ve dissected our protocol on situations like this, we’re modifying it," he said. "From now on I think it would be best if I came upstairs and we had a little makeshift press conference so you can get your questions answered."
You can read more of Moos' comments here.
>> Walters was the latest coach to acknowledge a team’s jump between games one and two, but he did say there’s a benefit to the Husker offense in the fact Colorado still has no tape on them.
“They don’t know what we’re going to do,” he said. “They’re watching UCF film so personnel-wise they don’t know what we’re going to play with and scheme-wise we’ve changed some things up. They don’t know what they’re going to see so that’s an advantage.”
>> Tight ends coach Sean Beckton had this to say on the weird weekend and moving forward:
“I think Coach Frost did a great job in the meeting on Monday morning saying ‘Hey fellas, sorry we didn’t get the game in; let’s move forward form there and let’s work to beat Colorado.’ I think the kids washed their hands of that last week and they pressed forward. The biggest thing for us is we’ve been through it and keeping the kids focused on the task at hand this week has been a major gaol. Since Monday, we haven’t heard anything about Akron.”
Beckton also said freshman tight end Cam Jurgens is a hot commodity among the position coaches. Jacob Padilla has more here.
>> Freshman running back Miles Jones wasn’t in pads leaving the practice field Wednesday.
>> Quarterback coach Mario Verduzco was pleased with how each of his quarterbacks performed on their game tests before the Akron game. Frost said Monday freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez looked ready, Verduzco echoed those comments. We’ll have more on the quarterbacks later.
>> Recently retired running back Tre Bryant ran out of the tunnel with the team on Saturday. Running backs coach Ryan Held said that was something Bryant came to the staff about and they were more than happy to do it. Held said Bryant is still around the team and helping out with things off the field.
>> Offensive line coach Greg Austin said he doesn’t know where his “Restore The Order” t-shirt is. Those are the shirts he and his teammates wore after beating Colorado back in 2005. Austin did say, though, “I guess on that day we did restore the order.”
Nebraska won that game 30-3.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.