There is more to playing wide receiver in Scott Frost’s offense than making highlight reel catches.
Yes, the offense is built around explosive plays. The Huskers would like to increase the amount of explosive plays from every part of the offense. Part of how those explosive plays come in this offense is from perimeter plays. They can be stretch runs, swing passes or bubble screens. Either way the principle remains the same: blocking is important. Nebraska coach Scott Frost explained that on Monday.
“We have a saying, ‘no block, no rock,’ so we want all our guys to block for us and earn their right to be out there by what they do in the run game and that will give them chances to catch some passes,” Frost said.
The phrase ‘no block, no rock’ is becoming a lightning rod within the fan base. Some take it to mean that Frost and Matt Lubick covet blocking over everything else. People are looking for reasons why seemingly less-explosive players got more reps against Ohio State than touted newcomers. What if the blocking issue is just part of a larger culture message the Nebraska staff is trying to send?
Players have said recently they want to be the most physical team in the Big Ten. That includes the wide receivers too. The mantra ‘no block, no rock’ really is just another way of coaches saying they want toughness from their wide receivers as well. The only job of receivers in this offense isn’t to just make the glamour plays. Attention to detail and being a good teammate by helping spring a running back or quarterback for a big run matters too.
I can understand the culture building aspect of this if it’s playing a role. All that said though, Nebraska must find a way to get its young playmakers on the field. Wide receiver is not a position that needs much time to get up to speed to make an impact. Watching college football on a weekly basis you can see many examples of this.
Lubick was asked right away at his press conference on Tuesday about the involvement of his newcomers in the first game of the season.
“We were able to get some of the newcomers in the in the second half. Alante [Brown] played a decent amount. Same with [Marcus] Fleming too. I consider Levi [Falck] a newcomer too. He started the game but he’s a newcomer. This week we are still working on getting Omar healthy. We are hoping he can help us this week. Alante has done some good things.
“All those guys are getting better. Zavier Betts is getting better too. We are going to gradually keep working those guys in the system to give them opportunities. But at the end of the day when the game goes we are going to play the guys that give us the best chance to win.”
While players like Brown and Fleming did get out on the field in the game, fans would like to see more. Betts didn’t play an offensive snap. Manning didn’t make the trip as he works back from an injury. Nebraska seems to be taking the approach of bringing those guys along slowly. They haven’t shown a desire to throw them all into the fire to see what happens.
It’s all a delicate balance that the staff must go through carefully. The culture in Lincoln is still settling and they may not want to upset that. At the same time the team needs more playmakers on the field who can make an impact in the pass and run game.
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.