With under a month until the first game of the season, Nebraska football officially kicked off fall camp Friday.
— Ryan Callaghan (@Callaghan_NEB) August 3, 2018
In some ways, it's a clean slate for the Huskers. Nebraska isn't part of the 2018 preseason Amway Coaches Poll for the fourth straight year. Four of the Huskers' Big Ten opponents are in the top 14, though.
Not many would have expected the Huskers to be ranked. Some may have thought Nebraska would get a vote or two, but it's still not all that surprising that the Huskers didn't.
Nebraska finished its 2017 season with a 4-8 record. The Huskers gave up a painful 54, 56 and 56 points in the last three games of the season. The players were doubting themselves by that point, which only made it worse.
“I don’t think there was a whole lot of trust between us and the coaching staff,” senior outside linebacker Luke Gifford said Thursday.
When coach Scott Frost and his staff were hired in early December, they went to work repairing that trust. They also went to work building the team motivation and energy levels back up. By the time spring football rolled around, the players were ready to go.
It wasn't consistent, though. Frost watched as his new team gave their all sometimes, but not all of the time. If there's one thing he's focused on this fall, it's building consistency in the team's energy levels.
“It’s not going to be more intense than spring. I want them to be 100 percent all the time," Frost said. "I don’t think we accomplished that in the spring, so maybe it will be more intense if we get more guys to buy into that."
Frost planned to address the inconsistency in energy with the team in meetings. He has high expectations, which means there can't be any players slacking off.
"… This spring there were some practices where they went out and went to work and were all business and they got better," Frost said. "And then there were other ones that we kind of mailed in a little bit. Not completely, but I just didn’t see the energy and enthusiasm we needed. Practice one the energy was off the charts and I saw that dip and decline. We don’t have time for that this fall.
"If we get 100 percent out of guys more often, it’ll be more intense."
Frost also knows the importance of balance. Fall camp isn't about running players into the ground. The staff will be smart about how they push the team to be better.
A big component in that will be the strength and conditioning staff. Led by head strength coach Zach Duval, the strength staff has been the eyes and ears for Frost over the summer. Not only have they helped build the players up phsyically, but he knows they've been able to see how the players react to hard work.
“Zach Duval, Jasen Carlson and Andrew Strope spend more time with our players than we do, particularly in the summer when we can’t be around them," Frost said. So their input had a lot to do with who’s in the 110. It probably won’t have anything to do with the depth chart but to me it doesn’t matter who takes the first rep of the first practice in the fall. I’m sure it’ll be similar to the way it left off in spring, but that’s just a taking off point.
"We’ll get to it from there once guys earn it and beat everybody else out.”
Frost expects his team to have more confidence this fall than they did in the spring. Player after player said Thursday that they feel better than they ever have before. They're also stronger, and have formed tighter bonds. That's all good news for Frost.
However, it's time to put that work into motion. The enery in spring started strong, but fell off. It can't be that way this fall.
From Frost's perspective, it's time to see if the progress off the field will make a difference on the field.
“Offseason momentum is for newspapers and fans on websites," Frost said. "Like I said, it’s time to prove it. I hope our guys are ready for it."
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.