Nebraska practiced inside Memorial Stadium on Thursday for the first time in about a week and a half. The team was unable to practice inside of the stadium due to preparation and teardown from the Garth Brooks concert that took place last Saturday.
“Only bad thing is we weren’t on the game field for a week and a half,” head coach Scott Frost said to kick off his appearance on Sports Nightly on Thursday evening.
From there, Frost quickly dove into a position-by-position review of his team. That included an update on the depth chart, which Frost said the team has received enough reps over fall camp to know exactly where each person stands.
“I don’t think there’s any secrets with the team,” he said.
With that said, Frost wasn’t ready to release his depth chart to the masses. “I’m not in a big hurry to release it,” he said before instead offering thoughts on the team, starting with the running back spot. The three names Frost brought up weren’t a surprise—Markese Stepp, Sevion Morrison and Gabe Ervin Jr.—because all three have received quite a bit of fanfare through fall camp so far. Frost said Nebraska isn’t ready to say who is in the top spot so far, but said the coaches feel good about what they have at the spot.
“Not sure there’s really a clear-cut guy yet, but feel good about the guys we do have,” he said.
In the wide receiver room, Frost said he thinks the Huskers have “six, seven, eight guys” that the coaches feel comfortable with. While he didn’t specify who those players were, he did later bring up wide receiver Omar Manning saying he’s a “completely different guy” from last season. Frost added that Manning has had a good camp and has only been “nicked up” once throughout.
“I think you can expect to see him make some plays for us,” Frost said.
Switching to the backup quarterback spot, Frost said that battle has been “exciting to watch.” He shared that Logan Smothers has a quick mind and is getting balls to the right players at the right time, while Heinrich Haarberg is “really talented.” He also mentioned Matt Masker doing good things for Nebraska.
On defense, Frost said the players are “more cohesive this year” and added that it’s easier to play at 100% when everyone knows what they are doing. It also helps that the defense has played together for some time now “so I expect us to be better,” he said.
With nine days until kickoff, Frost and the Huskers have turned their attention to Illinois. What will be the key for Nebraska in 2021?
“They knocked the snot out of us a few times in the past couple years,” Frost said. “The big thing is we’ve had too many turnovers the past couple of years. We were lucky to win one with the turnovers we had and we put ourselves in a really bad spot with turnovers in the other one.”
The Huskers will head to Champaign to kick off the season on Aug. 28.
Other news and notes:
>> Frost said he cannot add anything more to his statement from Wednesday about the ongoing NCAA investigation.
“We’re always going to do things right around here,” Frost said. “This is something we’ll work through and get past and move on.”
Beyond that, Frost said the team is focused on the season opener at Illinois on Aug. 28.
“I think the players are locked in on what we’re trying to get done and this won’t affect that,” Frost said.
>> Frost was asked about how he decides whether or not to take the ball first after the coin toss. “If we think we’re going to go score, we take the ball,” he said, before adding that the kickoff unit looks much better now with legs that can kick the ball into the end zone.
“Kicking it into the end zone will change our special teams,” Frost said.
>> Nebraska is going to be back on the traditional east sideline this fall. The team moved to the west in 2020.
Frost would also like to have Frank Solich back at Memorial Stadium this fall.
“That’s a guy I respect and look up to,” he said. “I would love to have him back.”
>> The Unity Council has returned.
>> The question on everyone’s mind was finally answered: When will Nebraska hand out the Blackshirts?
“Blackshirts will be soon,” Frost said. “We’ve got some decisions to make. I think a lot of guys are deserving.”
“Captains will be coming real soon too,” he added.
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.