In 2010, Darron Thomas led Chip Kelly, Scott Frost and Oregon to the BCS National Championship game against Auburn. The Ducks eventually lost, but Thomas had the best season of his career, nearing almost 2,900 yards passing with 30 touchdowns, nine picks and a 151.0 quarterback rating. Thomas wasn’t an elite runner but he got the job done. When Frost — now trying to figure out who’s going to be his new Nebraska quarterback — thinks about what it takes to run his offense, he thinks of Thomas.
“It’s nice to have a 4.4 [forty] guy at quarterback that can throw and do everything we ask them to do, but we’ve won a lot of games in this offense with 4.7 guys,” Frost said Tuesday after practice. “I think [Thomas] was a 4.7, but he was an efficient runner, and really that’s what we look for. They don’t have to have breakaway speed but when they pull it down and the defense dictates that they need to keep it and run it, they need to be able to get us yards.”
Frost says he’s going to ask his quarterback to carry the ball this year; whoever that guy is will need to be smart with the football, speed won’t be the end all be all. Unfortunately for the media and a fan base growing more excited with each passing day, Frost isn’t rushing to name his next quarterback.
“As many reps as we get, the depth chart will sort itself out,” he said. “The one thing we have to do ,and we’ve kind of started it a little bit today, is making sure we’re getting the guys that are kind of separating themselves more reps so we can get our team ready to play. We have until September to figure out who’s going to be the first guy on the field.”
Hey, there’s something. Who’s a guy that’s starting to separate himself?
“You guys keep asking those questions,” Frost said as he laughed it off. “There’s definitely some guys that have performed well and those guys are going to get some more reps and we’ve just got to let it keep sorting itself out.”
Quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco and offensive coordinator Troy Walters were pretty tight-lipped about the competition, too. But, Frost did offer some thoughts on what each guy is doing well through eight spring practices.
Redshirt freshman Tristan Gebbia is “doing some good things” both in the air and on the ground. Sophomore Patrick O’Brien “can really throw it” and has done a nice job so far learning the playbook. Freshman Adrian Martinez is “showing signs” of his talent as he recovers from a shoulder injury that cost him his senior year of high school. UCF transfer Noah Vedral is about where you’d expect, he just can’t play, and walk-on Andrew Bunch has surprised.
“He’s a lot more athletic than I expected him to be,” Frost said. “When he takes off running, he can make some things happen. He’s been a pleasant surprise for me because I wasn’t expecting as much as I’ve seen.”
In total, Frost just wants to see his guys get more familiar with things.
“It’s funny watching, that position more than any other takes a while and once it clicks it really clicks,” Frost said. “There’s a lot of details and little things happening really fast and quarterbacks have to be able to manage all that. I see every one of the guys making some good plays and then a play that’s not so good and most of the time it’s because they’re just a little behind mentally, they don’t quite understand the concept or they can’t quite get there in the time it takes us to snap the ball.
“As a group, I’m really pleased with those guys and look forward to watching them all get to the point where it’s going to click.”
Other News and Notes
>> Martinez told Frost Tuesday his shoulder feels “about 90 percent.” Frost said he doesn’t yet see “the steam on the ball” that was there when he watched Martinez’s tape, but the freshman has compensated with his accuracy while his arm works back its strength.
>> As for when things finally click at the quarterback spot, Vedral said it took him until week eight last season with the Knights before things finally clicked.
>> Frost said Tuesday was the team’s best day of practice, but now they’ve reached the difficult stretch.
“This is kind of the hard part of spring ball where the enthusiasm of new opportunities and everything wears off and then it’s just hard work,” Frost said. “Most guys are embracing that but we’ve got to make sure we knuckle down and get a lot out of these last five or six practices.
“What I want to see more of is guys with the grit and grind that get a look in their eye and say I’m not going to lose no matter what. They’ve got to understand it’s on the line every time we go out there. I saw a little more of it today, I see some guys that are competitors, that are embracing that and really attacking but I want the whole team to do it. It can’t be a part-time thing. Nebraska football is built on guys that won’t quit, won’t give up, we’re going to be tough and refuse to lose. We’ve got some of it, we need to build more of it.
“Jack Stoll is a guy I could pick out, he brings it every day, he’s been physical for us, he’s making his mistakes but he’s making them full speed. Jerald Foster did a nice job today competing and trying to lead. Will Honas is coming to work every day and doing some awesome things. That’s just to mention a few.”
>> The coaches haven’t yet set the format for the April 21 Spring Game, Frost said they’ll decide that this week.
“We had to kind of wait and see where we were as a team on both sides of the ball and where we were health-wise so we get the teams split up,” Frost said. “There’s 90,000 people coming, I want to put on the best show we can and show people the progress.”
Frost said these scrimmages are “more for the fans” and he wants to make sure the Huskers look as strong as possible so those in attendance can “get something for what they paid for.” What that means yet, he’s not sure. They’ll decide soon.
>> After spring ball wraps up, Frost plans to meet with each player on the team individually to discuss where they’re at and what they need to work on. He’s not hoping to lose anybody, but acknowledged “there’s only so many guys that can play and sometimes those things work themselves out.”
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.