Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

The B1G Expects Nebraska to Struggle in 2021; A Confident Frost Seems to Be Embracing Being the Underdog

July 22, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS — The last time Scott Frost took a stage at a Big Ten Media Days event, he was a preseason darling. Many expected his Huskers, in Frost’s second year at the helm, to take a leap akin to UCF’s year two ride to the land of the unbeaten. The Huskers were tabbed to win the Big Ten West, “for no good reason” Frost said Thursday.

That was in 2019. The Huskers went 5-7. 

This time, on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium rather than in a Chicago ballroom, Frost found himself in a very different situation. 

Cleveland.com, which puts out the de-facto Big Ten preseason poll, revealed that Big Ten media across the league’s footprint had voted the Huskers as the No. 5 team in the West, ahead of only Purdue and Illinois. 

“We’re picked where we deserve to be,” Frost said in response to it. “When we’ve earned it, we should be picked higher than that. … I like where we’re at, and if that puts a chip on our kids’ shoulders, that’s a good thing.”

Nebraska has a strong defense. Two representatives for the Blackshirts were in Indy talking about keeping expectations high and starting fast and being one of the league’s most feared. 

Frost also feels like he has the best skill talent he’s had yet as the Husker coach, and after expressing that confidence in the spring, he doubled down on it at the outset of fall camp. 

“I’m really excited about the wide receiver room,” he said. “We probably have less returning production than we’ve had in a long time, but I’ll also say it’s probably the most talented group we’ve had by a long shot as a whole.”

Montana transfer Samori Toure plays a key part in that evaluation. 

“I think Samori is going to be an immediate-impact guy,” Frost said. 

A 1,000-yard receiver and an FCS playoff standout at Montana, Toure brings an element Nebraska hasn’t had in the slot yet. He stands 6-foot-3. He’s got a huge catch radius. Whereas Wan’Dale Robinson would spend a chunk of his time motioning into the backfield and taking handoffs, Toure is going to be a pure wideout.

“He really has a feel for the game,” Frost said. “He’s crafty to find holes in zones and figure out how to open himself up. Has a really big catch radius. I think the bigger body is gonna help him block outside linebackers on run plays. Most of the stuff we’re doing in the offense right now, I think the assets he has are going to make us better.”

But it’s not just Toure. 

“I know Samori and Omar (Manning) are the big names in Lincoln right now, but it’s Zavier Betts, it’s the two freshmen we’ve got, it’s the transfers we’ve got,” said safety Deontai Williams. “Our wide receiver group might be one of the top wide receiver groups in the Big Ten.”

Throw Oliver Martin in there as well, a former Iowa wideout who walked on last year before being placed on scholarship.

“I think Oliver’s got a chance to play a huge role at wide receiver,” Frost said. “Had a really good spring for us. When we did testing this winter, he was one of the best athletes on our football team. That’s really started to transfer over to the football field.” 

Defensive end Ben Stille said Martin might be the strongest on the team, pound for pound. 

Frost likes the talent. Building it has been a painstaking process, but the head coach seems more than pleased with where his offense is at. 

The running backs, though unproven, have Frost expecting a “cutthroat” fall camp competition. The offensive line is a group Frost thinks can make old-school alums of The Pipeline proud. He thinks his top two tight ends—Austin Allen and Travis Vokolek—have NFL careers ahead of them. 

And for his quarterback, Frost has seen a matured and confident player absolutely attack this offseason. 

“I’ve told these guys there’s not one game we’re going to take the field this year where we don’t have a chance to go out and be successful,” he said. “I know they believe that. Certainly some success will help them believe it even more.”

The confidence from the head coach has absolutely trickled down to the team. 

“I think we’re better almost everywhere,” Frost said, “but we’ve got to go out and show it and earn it.”

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