It’s only the second day of Nebraska’s spring ball, so things are still pretty surface level, but head coach Scott Frost did offer a few observations from inside Hawks Championship Center after practice wrapped up Tuesday morning. With the team putting a 10-day break behind them, Frost thought the morning was “good” but still not exactly what he wanted to see.
“I don’t think it was quite as good as the first day, a little sloppier,” he said. “Sometimes you kind of expect that after spring break but that’s not the standard we want to hold ourselves to. Every time we’re on the field I want it to be better than the time before, we want to set a new standard every time we’re on the field and we’re competing against ourselves to beat that the next time.”
Asked how things were progressing with the install of the new offensive schemes, Frost shared that the staff had decided to throw the book at the team right from the beginning and give them everything. Frost said there are nuances and “minor points” within the offense that will take time to firmly iron out, but the enthusiasm, above everything else, has been strong.
“We’re way ahead of where we’ve been when we’ve installed this offense before, a lot of it has to do with these guys going to work and the players being attentive and working fast,” Frost said. “It’s similar to the program we took over a couple years ago that guys aren’t happy with the results they’ve had. Usually, when you’re coming off a season like the one they had last year, guys are anxious for something new and a new way of doing things.
“The enthusiasm has been there, the energy has been there, guys have been in to get the extra work in the classroom and in the weight room.”
And even though it’s still too early in the evaluation process for Frost to start picking out standout performers and name-drop them, he spoke highly of a few guys when asked. The first was wideout JD Spielman.
“JD’s the type of player that we like to recruit to this offense,” Frost said of the redshirt sophomore. "I think him and Tyjon [Lindsey] are both the type of kid that flourishes in our offense, guys that can win in space. You get them the ball in space and they can make things happen with it. JD’s done really good things out here the first couple days, he’s still learning like everybody else, but I see a lot of potential out of both of those guys.”
Frost also singled out junior college transfer running back Greg Bell.
“Greg Bell had a really good day today,” he said. "He’s an example of the guys taking advantage of the practices that they’re gaining.”
When it comes to the newcomers, Frost said he feels like they’re at more of an advantage than most mid-year players typically are, given the nature of the coaching change and the entire team starting over. He said the early academic reports back from campus have been good and the adjustment period seems to be going well.
Frost was asked about his quarterback room (more on that in a minute) and tossed out a name that might not be on too many radars.
“Patrick [O’Brien]’s doing some good things, obviously Adrian [Martinez]’s here, but Andrew Bunch has been doing some good things as well,” Frost said.
Bunch, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound sophomore, added depth in the quarterback room last year but never saw the field. He’s likely got another uphill battle for playing time this season, but the early attention is a good sign.
Frost also said he’s been impressed with redshirt freshman Tristan Gebbia.
Other News and Notes
>> Running back Tre Bryant has yet to practice with the team. Frost said “we’re hopeful that things are going well and he’s working hard off the field and doing as much as he can,” when asked about a return.
Center Cole Conrad also remains out.
>> Redshirt freshman Chris Walker has moved to the defensive line.
“Chris wanted to play on defense, we’re going to give him a shot there,” Frost said. “I think he could be a good player for us on either side of the ball but that’s where he wants to be and we’re going to give him a chance there.”
At 6-foot-8, 275 pounds, Walker offers a monster frame for defensive line coach Mike Dawson to work with, and another talent to a group Frost has been impressed with early on.
“I think [strength coach] Zach [Duval]’s done a great job with them already and he deserves a lot of credit, our team looks different already after one winter session in the weight room and training,” Frost said. “They’ll continue to get better but it’s made a difference in the body types of our defensive linemen and the way they’ve been able to move.”
>> It was recently reported that Arizona grad transfer quarterback Brandon Dawkins had been shown interest by Nebraska, something Dawkins later confirmed to media in California, but Frost said Nebraska isn’t thinking about any outside names right now.
“We’re trying to get the guys up to speed and playing as well as they possibly can,” he said. “I think after spring ball we’ll take a look at that but I’ve been impressed with the quarterback group so far. … I think we’ve got good talent at that position.”
>> Some coaches view special teams as a gateway for younger players to get their feet wet and get into the game, some want their best players on the field. How does Frost feel?
“I want our whole team on special teams,” he said. “Special teams are a third of the game. It’s important. The best teams in the country have their best players on special teams. We certainly won’t have our starters on all four but I want guys to understand how important special teams is and we want our best talent on the field for those plays.
“A lot of times that’s a great way for a younger player to break in and start getting playing time, on special teams, so I want those guys to embrace that as the role they’re going to serve but I also want our veterans to be able to sacrifice and go out on special teams for the team. The best talent we can get on the field in every unit is important.”
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.