Photo Credit: Eric Francis

News and Notes from Nebraska’s First Press Conference of 2021 Spring Football

March 29, 2021

Nebraska officially begins spring football on Tuesday, but Coach Scott Frost, both coordinators and a few players all met with the media to kick things off on Tuesday. Frost spoke first, addressing a number of topics including the reports about canceling the Oklahoma matchup and what the Huskers will do with special teams.

To start, Frost confirmed that outside linebackers coach Mike Dawson will be “the lead” for Nebraska on special teams. As far as Frost is concerned, Dawson will be the “special teams coordinator,” but added that titles don’t mean that much to him or his staff. He credited Dawson’s background with special teams coaching experience.

However, Dawson won’t be alone. Frost added that Bill Busch—he joined Nebraska as a defensive analyst in February—will “give a hand” on special teams.

Beyond that, one of the bigger storylines of the offseason so far has been Nebraska’s matchup with Oklahoma. Reports previously surfaced that the Huskers were trying to get out of the game. After some confusion about what did and didn’t happen, Nebraska confirmed it will play the game in Norman and looked forward to doing so.

Frost reiterated on Monday that the Huskers did discuss the game—”I think in general there has been discussion about what’s best for the program,” he said—and that a lot of options were on the table. He didn’t recall “where the conversation started for sure,” but noted that it centered mostly around the financial losses from the 2020 season.

Frost added that Oklahoma will be one of the best teams in the country and that his players are excited for the opportunity. The players even held a meeting to guarantee that the game was played. As far as the head coach himself, he had nothing but kind things to say about Oklahoma and his personal memories of the Sooners.

“I grew up on Nebraska-Oklahoma,” Frost said. “I can’t count the number of times I was at Memorial Stadium in the snow, watching those games. That’s my favorite rivalry in sports because it’s the one I grew up around.”

While spring is more for focusing on personnel, defensive coordinator Erik Chinander also brought up the Oklahoma game as something he will spend some time scouting. He added that it’s a game “the guys are fired up for.”

One more scheduling note: Nebraska is looking to move a game into the open bye date on Sept. 4. That original was a bye following an international trip to Ireland to play Illinois, but now that it’s moved to Champaign, Nebraska is looking at “any and all options” to get a home game that week.

 

More news and notes:

>> Frost expects to release some of the performance index results for the team later in the week.

“All but seven players on our whole roster improved in every category for testing,” Frost said on the offseason testing.

Deontai Williams broke the all-time program record in the agility run, per Frost.

>> There’s a lot to like about the talent and depth at wide receiver for Frost. He’s glad he has everyone ready for spring football.

“I feel real comfortable saying that’s the best talent we’ve had in that room since I’ve been here,” Frost said.

>> Fans will be at Memorial Stadium for the Spring Game on May 1, which Frost is happy about. He is also glad the Big Ten is allowing local authorities to make the decision on fans.

“I’m sure as many fans as we can have in the spring, they’ll be there,” he said.

He added that he has missed having fans around, noting that the 2020 season in empty stadiums was tough.

>> Offensive coordinator Matt Lubick said that Chris Hickman is still practicing at both wide receiver and tight end. He’s currently a wideout, but he’s a player that the Huskers want to cross-train for both positions.

>> Nebraska has recruited bigger players all over its offense since Frost took over. Does that mean Frost’s offense if more power-based than it was previously?

“I guess it’s safe to say that,” he said.

Lubick also spoke about size on the offense, specifically at the receiver position. That size should provide more versatility among the receivers, but it’s never a bad thing just to have side on your side in any situation.

“In a perfect world, you always want the biggest, strongest, fastest athlete,” Lubick said.

>> Chinander hopes that the six seniors that opted to return for one more year—JoJo Domann, Will Honas, Ben Stille, Marquel Dismuke and Deontai Williams—will become coaches on the field this spring. He added that he was “just really happy when they all said they were coming back.”

Domann said the six seniors who decided to return all met in the offseason to discuss their goals. While each have their own personal goals, they realized that there is a “power in numbers.” As far as his own personal goals, he said his decision to return was to “create a culture that lasts beyond my time here.”

>> Expect to see both Javin Wright and Isaac Gifford at Domann’s spot. Chinander said it would be a lot to ask Domann to play every snap over an entire season (which he did in 2020), so they’re looking to get him some help.

>> He hasn’t gotten much time to work with him yet, but Chinander mentioned that inside linebacker Chris Kolarevic—who transferred from Northern Iowa in January—is “like getting a free agent in the NFL.”

>> What is the identity of the offense according to Cam Jurgens?

“Winning football,” he said.

He also said there is a big emphasis on explosive plays.

>> Young players that you need to be talking about on the defensive line? According to Damion Daniels, it’s Nash Hutmacher and Ru’Quan Buckley. When talking about Hutmacher specifically, Daniels said he is one of the strongest in Nebraska’s program right now.

“Watching him move weight, it’s ridiculous,” Daniels said.

>> Austin Allen has a goal this offseason and that is to become a captain.

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