Nebraska had its first football practice of 2020 on Monday.
And what can you really tell from one practice in helmets and shorts.
Frost thought it was good, but, as hype is the dirtiest word of the new decade, was hesitant to say so. "We've got a long way to go, but I was very pleased with the first day and it was the best first day of spring we've had. But the first two seasons didn't go like we wanted and so we have a lot of work to do."
Offensive line coach Greg Austin was less willing to go there. "It's Day 1, bro," he said when asked to assess redshirt sophomore Bryce Benhart's readiness to contribute this season.
All the standard stuff of spring so far, but quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco noticed something specific enough that it might just be something.
"For us today as a group," Verduzco said of Monday's practice, "just the speed that [the wide receivers] were getting into and out of their breaks was refreshing for the guys I coach. I had to get them together as a group and say, ‘Listen, it’s not going to be like what you were used to before, it’s going to be a lot more crisp.'"
Credit new offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Matt Lubick for the increased precision. He's working with a small group this spring––just four scholarship wide receivers while JD Spielman is absent and the Huskers wait for summer reinforcements from the 2020 recruiting class––but, according to multiple coaches at, he's already had a noticeable impact.
Discipline––in route-running but in all respects, really––is something of a Lubick trait according to those that knew him from his time at Oregon.
As Nebraska's offense struggled last season to meet increased expectations, realistic or not, the Huskers' quarterback play took the brunt of the blame (as is usually the case). Nebraska's team passer rating did drop slightly in 2019, from 135.35 and 61st nationally in 2018 to 133.09 and 73rd. But Frost noted on a handful of occasions that quarterbacks are but one part of the passing equation, outlining how the Husker wide receivers needed to do a better job with being where they're supposed to be when they're supposed to be there.
On a macro level, much of what Lubick brings to the table might be termed organizational. "He's already making an impact," Frost said, mentioning improvements in charting plays, divvying up practice reps and running plays against all the defensive looks the Huskers will see.
In the past Nebraska wasn't "as dialed in as I would have liked to have been," Frost said and Lubick "definitely improved us in that area already."
It's happening on a micro level, with Lubick's position group, too. It was "just Day 1, bro," sure, but Verduzco noticed the speed with which the wide receivers got into and out of their breaks on Monday.
"That was something I noticed right off the bat," he said. "There were a couple times our guys were late on a throw. I told them, 'We’re going to have to get the ball out of our hands now.' Which is great."
Will it mean great things for the Huskers’ offense in 2020? That will take more time to sort out, but it’s a start.
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.