Nine days ago, Nebraska offensive coordinator Matt Lubick was talking about how his two starting tight ends, Austin Allen and Travis Vokolek, remind him of a trio of future pros he had in his last season at Oregon in 2016.
Today we learned the Huskers are dealing with some potential depth issue at tight end just over two weeks out from the season opener at Illinois.
“We’ve been nicked up at that position every camp,” Scott Frost said at Friday’s post-practice press conference.
Neither Vokolek or Allen took part in the open portion of Wednesday’s practice. In their absence, redshirt freshman Chris Hickman took the bulk of snaps at tight end.
Frost said Allen was held out of practice Wednesday for “rest” while Vokolek “will be back,” though the coach declined to go into further details.
“We’ve been hurting a little bit there,” he said.
With the offseason transfer of Wan’Dale Robinson to Kentucky, Nebraska was already green when it came to pass-catchers, returning just 50.3% of its receiving yards from 2020. Allen (18 receptions, 236 yards, one TD) was the Huskers’ leading returning receiver.
Vokolek ranked fifth on the team last year with nine catches for 91 yards.
Nebraska is also without true freshman Thomas Fidone, one of the top tight end recruits in the 2021 class and the Huskers’ highest-rated signee last cycle. Fidone suffered a torn ACL in the spring. Frost has said Fidone’s recovery is ahead of a schedule, and a return to play is possible later this season.
Behind Hickman, the remaining tight ends on the roster outside of the four mentioned are all redshirt or true freshmen. Chancellor Brewington––a 6-foot-3, 185-pound Northern Arizona transfer currently listed as a wide receiver––has been working at tight end to shore up the depth. Freshman defensive lineman Jacob Herbek (6-foot-5, 265) has also moved to the position for now.
Other notes from Friday’s availability:
>> Nebraska hosted its second scrimmage on Friday, but this one wasn’t quite the same as the one hosted last Sunday. Friday’s scrimmage didn’t have many live tackle periods, but it still put players in live mock situations. “Thought our guys were ready for it,” Frost said.
There were Big Ten officials on hand for Friday’s scrimmage, however, and Frost said there were some flags on the ground.
“That irritates me as a coach because you want things to be perfect,” he said.
running back room this week. Neither running backs coach Ryan Held nor Frost want to say specifically who is in the mix, but both seem to feel pretty good about a few backs.>Lot of talk about the
“It’s still to be determined yet (on rotation) but there are a few guys that have separated themselves a little bit,” Frost said.
Sevion Morrison, Markese Stepp and Gabe Ervin Jr. were all made available to the media following practice on Wednesday.
>>Speaking of Morrison, Frost called him a “really talented kid” on Friday, noting that he really hit his stride in the offseason program over the summer. He said he looks leaner and faster.
>> Frost was asked about the team’s vaccination rate on Friday, and he said he feels pretty good about where the team is numbers-wise. In fact, Frost said he feels better about his numbers today than he did two weeks ago.
“We’re doing everything we can to educate the guys,” Frost said. “We have some resistance to it and our trainer has done a really good job.”
Frost said Nebraska has brought in four different speakers to talk with the team, and agrees with other coaches that have said high vaccination rates will be competitive advantages for teams.
“The advantage is going to be based on the rules put around it but I don’t think there’s any question,” he said, adding that his stance that vaccinations are the best path forward for a successful season has not changed.
>> Nebraska is slightly shifting its practice protocol with the Huskers playing a week earlier than most teams.
“We’re going to change to game prep a little earlier,” Frost said about his team getting ready for the Week 0 matchup