Head coach Scott Frost had a couple cups of coffee Friday morning to get going. Spring ball began bright and early for the Huskers. Frost takes his coffee a little “foofied” up in case you were wondering; he’s not a black coffee drinker. And opening practice in the Hawks Championship Center, with the Husker banners and a giant, glowing red “N” on the wall was special, but “once you get on the field and practice starts, it’s practice and I could be in Siberia or Yemen for all I know, it’s practice.”
So how was the Huskers’ first day of practice?
“I don’t think it’s any secret that I loved that team down there, our whole coaching staff did. I’d go to battle with those guys anytime. That being said, this was quite a bit better first day than we had on our first day down there,” Frost said. “I think the guys were a little more mentally prepared for it, as coaches we were all a little better because we’ve been through this process before and I was really impressed with the execution and understanding what we’re trying to get done on Day One.”
Frost liked the effort and the enthusiasm he saw from the team on its first day out. Because of scheduling hurdles, the Huskers were forced to begin practice before the sun rose. It ended at 8 a.m. Frost said guys were in the building ready to go before 4:30 a.m.
“That shows me a lot of intensity and that a lot of guys care about what we’re trying to get done,” he said.
In holding one practice Friday morning before spring break starts, the Huskers were able to count the entire week as a practice week and, per NCAA compliance, hold meetings throughout the week. Frost said that helped tremendously. As far as teaching the new schemes on both offense and defense, Frost felt his team was ahead of schedule. There are still details and general inefficiencies that need to be ironed out, but the guys practiced hard. That’s what Frost wanted to see.
“I think our team, mentally, is way ahead of where I expected it to be,” he said.
The fact this coaching staff has been together and been through this once before already helped.
“Some of the continuity on Nebraska’s coaching staff for a lot of years made a difference in how good we were,” Frost said. “When we were starting this process two years ago with this coaching staff, there was still coaches learning the schemes on both sides. Now, everybody knows the schemes, they know their role and it’s run a lot smoother.”
There is a challenge, though, because next week is spring break. Nebraska will be off an entire week, college kids turned loose for spring break. The Huskers have "made a lot of gains” in terms of getting stronger, getting in better shape and getting leaner. The staff doesn’t want to see that all go down the drain. Frost said he wants the team to still be active but treat the week like a rest week.
“Be smart,” Frost said. “We talk about taking care of the brother to your left and the brother to your right, making good decisions. We don’t have a lot of rules around here, it’s just do the right thing. These guys are going to be faced with a lot of decisions over the next week, I want to have them make good decisions so we get the whole team back.”
The Huskers will get back to work when everyone returns. Perhaps guys like guard Jerald Foster, defensive tackle Mick Stoltenberg and wideout Stanley Morgan Jr. — all names Frost dropped when talking about leaders emerging in workouts — can keep people accountable until then. Because when they get back, it’s back to building.
“There’s nothing better as an athlete, or just as a human being, than being part of something that’s bigger than just yourself,” Frost said. “I think these guys are starting to feel that and we’ll keep building it.”
Other News and Notes
>> No roster attrition to report. Frost said any changes to the roster have already been shared.
>> On Thursday, Nebraska announced a series of camps to take place over the summer. The Friday Night Lights camp that began under the Mike Riley tenure was among those listed. Asked if it will be under the same format, or open to the public, Frost had this to say.
“Nebraska fans, if we have something that’s open to them, they’re going to come and I know that and that can be a real benefit to us in recruiting. The one thing we’ve got to determine yet is if the lights are going to be ready. They’re working on the lights this summer and we’ve got to make sure we have the lights so we can call it ‘Friday Night Lights.’ We’re looking to have a similar structure to what they had.”
>> Frost likes morning practices, said he’s a believer in them. But the reasoning goes beyond the benefits seen on the football field.
“Listen, our kids will be better football players, better students and better citizens on campus when we get our work done in the morning,” he said. “Even when I was a student, I was a decent student but if there was a choice to get up in the morning and go to class or stay in bed sometimes I made the wrong choice. None of these guys are going to miss practice, so we’re going to get them up and get them moving.
“We’ll have better attendance in classes, we’ll have better attentiveness in classes and these guys are going to flourish better on and off the field because of it.”
>> In Frost’s mind, the quarterback is the toughest position in the new system to learn and takes the longest to get comfortable in. Asked how the room has taken to the transition, Frost said he’s been “really impressed” with the work all the quarterbacks have done in the classroom with quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco.
Noah Vedral, being a transfer from UCF and already having a year of experience within that system, has been a significant help throughout that transition as well.
“Noah’s ahead because Noah’s had a whole year in it and you can kind of see that polish and that refinement and just the ease with which he sees things and makes decisions,” Frost said. “He’s been a big piece of our installation because he’s able to be out here with the guys when we’re not and if there’s any questions Noah knows the answer to them.”
>> Stanley Morgan is “a real guy.” That’s how Frost described the star wideout. He enjoyed watching Morgan at practice Friday morning.
“It was fun to watch him run around and catch balls today,” Frost said. “He’s what we want in this offense, he’s taken over a leadership role and done a good job with that. We’re glad to have him on the team. He’s going to be a big part of what we do.”
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.