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Nebraska Coaches and Players Building Foundation of Trust

August 05, 2018

Want a blueprint for how to quickly win over your players when taking over a program? Grab their attention with your results.

Nebraska's new coaching staff took a winless Central Florida team and made it undefeated Peach Bowl champions in just two seasons. Coach Scott Frost won what seemed like every coach of the year award for 2017. Plus, head strength and conditioning coach Zach Duval was recognized as the strength and conditioning coach of the year. No matter the position you play, that will get your attention.

As a result, the foundation for trust and credibility has fostered among players and coaches over the last several months.

When you hear players talk about the direction they get from Frost or head strength and Duval, it's clear that the players are not pushing back. When Duval speaks, the players act because they've seen the results he has gotten in his career. Senior outside linebacker Luke Gifford was asked about just that on Thursday. 

"He just pushes us much more than we've ever been pushed," Gifford said. "I think in the past we've been able to kind of slack if we wanted to. This is nothing against the past staff, but if you didn't do a weight, you didn't have to do a weight. With Coach Duval, he's going to put it on there and you're either going to get it or you're going to fail. And that's the way it should be. You don't have a choice. That's the only way you're going to get to where you want to be."

Frost wants his players to take his “no fear of failure” mantra to heart and that mindset is setting in. You can see it when senior offensive lineman Tanner Farmer was able to set a personal best, squatting 765 pounds three times.

Farmer thinks the new staff was just what the doctor ordered for a team that was ready to work hard but needed a push. 

“I feel like the thing we needed was direction. We just needed direction on which way to go," Farmer said. "We were eager to work hard. One thing this staff told us was that they didn’t have to coach us on how to work hard, all the guys are working hard. We just needed the proper direction. Just point me where I need to go, I’ll give you my all and I’ll be there.”

Gifford says the first thing that happened when the new staff came in was the rebuilding of the trust between coaches and players. After the spring, Duval solidified that trust according to Gifford. Getting over that hurdle can be a big positive for the team as they look to rebound from a 4-8 season last year.

Gifford spoke at the podium after Farmer on Thursday and echoed his teammates’ sentiments on the team needing direction.

“I thought Tanner was exactly spot on with that, and then I think overall there was a lot of trust that needed to be gained back," Gifford said. "I think that there are a lot of things that were going wrong last year but a lot of guys were second guessing the things that we were doing, and I don’t think there was a whole lot of trust between us and the coaching staff.” 

One phrase Farmer used Thursday to describe the team’s right now? "In harmony." Getting the players and coaches on the same page was vital.

However, don’t underestimate the value of the staff being in harmony as well. The players see the staff on the same page, which has a trickle-down effect that can be empowering. 

And perhaps this video from the first day of practice just gave us this season’s slogan: "One team, one heartbeat."

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