Nebraska head coach Scott Frost took to the podium Thursday morning to talk about practice. It's reporting day for his team and fall camp practice gets underway Friday. He answered questions about whether those practices will look different from the spring, whether his team is trying to block out all the offseason hype and more.
Here's the full transcript from the afternoon:
On turning around the program for Coach Osborne:
“Every time we put the jerseys on when I was playing, we were doing it for the guys that came before us and the guys that were going to come after us. We talked about that with Jason Peter the other day. Tradition is a wonderful thing when you have it, and we have it here because of guys like Coach Osborne. It might just be me, but I think he’s healthier and happier the last few months. He’s been in the building at least once a week. I wish he could be around more. He’s such a good guy, he doesn’t want to feel like he’s getting in the way. He’s going to be there for us if we need him as a resource. I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to make people like Coach Osborne proud and I won’t stop now.”
On conditioning and drills during the season:
“We had about as good of an offseason as we could’ve had. We stayed healthy, we added some pieces to the roster. All you have to do is look at our guys right now to see there was a big difference in our strength and conditioning program. Again, I’ve said this before but Zach Duval is about as good as there is in the country. I love his tie back to Husker Power. We’re getting that right. It’s time to see how much ground we’ve made and to make that improvement come to life on the practice field. It’s time to prove it.
"That being said, I’m sure we’re going to lift harder in the season than they did last year. I think that’s kind of inevitable if we lift. I remember going to bowl sites 13 days beforehand and taking the whole weight room down with us and it making a difference. Our aim isn’t going to be to get stronger during the season, it’s going to be to make sure that we don’t lose what we’ve gained through winter conditioning and summer conditioning.”
On the offseason in general:
“Offseason momentum is for newspapers and fans on websites. Like I said, it’s time to prove it. I hope our guys are ready for it. I think they’re going to have more confidence going into this year because of the way they look, the way they feel, the way they can move, how much stronger they are. I think they’re a tighter knit group now. So the offseason is going well, but it doesn’t really matter until the rubber hits the road and we get tested. We need to see if the progress that we made is going to make a difference.”
On any roster updates:
“Nothing happens around here without everybody knowing. We had about 106 of 110 decided about a week ago. We've kind of gotten to a point where we’re going to be at 109, waiting on a couple more kids to see how their status turns out. For the most part, I think [head athletic trainer] Mark Mayer has done a good job getting everybody healthy. It’s all hands on deck, there’s really nothing new to report.”
On running back Maurice Washington's status:
“Maurice will be here this afternoon.”
On wide receiver Dominic Watt's status:
“We’re still waiting on Dom. We feel really positive about it. We feel really positive that it could happen really quickly. Both of those kids did a great job going to work and getting done what they needed to get done. They’ve had some really smart and good people shepherding them through the process to make sure that they got finished. [Executive associate athletic director] Jamie Vaughn and the rest of compliance have been great to work with and they’ve done a great job with situations like that. Getting Maurice here was big for us, and we’re hopeful that it won’t be long with Dom.”
On running back Mikale Wilbon's status with the team:
“Mikale is going to be in camp.”
On shutting out outside noise:
“There’s several of us in the building that have lived that. This can be an environment where people are talking all the time, an environment where these things can be distractions. I had to learn personally not to read the paper, obviously when I was playing. Praise and blame is all the same. They’re usually both frauds. Neither one of them are probably the truth. You get more blame when you probably don’t deserve it and you get more praise when you probably don’t deserve it. We’ll continue to teach our guys these lessons. I’m sure Barrett [Ruud] lived it, I’m sure Matt [Davison] lived it, Greg Austin, some of the guys that played here they’ve played in that fishbowl.
"We’ll educate the guys about that. But, any excitement we have around the program is positive. I don’t want it to be created excitement. I don’t want it to be phony excitement. I want people to be excited because we’re doing things the right way. I think our players are excited because they can see things are being done the right way, now we just need them to believe it.”
On the difference between spring ball and fall camp:
“It’s not going to be more intense than spring. I want them to be 100 percent all the time. I don’t think we accomplished that in the spring, so maybe it will be more intense if we get more guys to buy into that. I’m going to tell them in a team meeting shortly that this spring there were some practices where they went out and went to work and were all business and they got better. And then there were other ones that we kind of mailed in a little bit. Not completely, but I just didn’t see the enery and enthusiasm we needed.
"Practice one the energy was off the charts and I saw that dip and decline. We don’t have time for that this fall. If we get 100 percent out of guys more often it’ll be more intense, but honestly training camp is about getting our guys as prepared as we can without running our guys into the ground so we’ll be smart from that perspective.”
On the secondary and additions they've made there:
“We knew one of the issues when we first got here and examined the roster was our depth in the secondary. I think we’ve done a good job in the offseason putting pieces together to try to improve that. I’m really excited about some of the kids that are here. Several true freshmen, a transfer, a junior college transfer, if those guys are what we think they are I think it’ll help us a bunch.
"I’m excited for competition in every position. We’re going to create opportunities to compete, practice itself should be a competition, a friendly competition. Those are the pieces of practice where we need to turn up the intensity. DB is no different than quarterback or kicker or any position. We’re going to go to work, evaluating them from day one of this fall camp and putting the right guys on the field.”
On the offensive line:
“I was really pleased with the o-line in spring. I thought they went to work, got a lot better. Coach Austin is as good as there is. I’ve seen him take a group that had underperformed and turned them into a dominant position group for us. I think we’ve got some really good talent there. I think we’ve got some really good attitudes and some good leadership with Jerald Foster and others.
"Depth could be an issue there, too. We need to stay healthy at several positions, offensive tackle is one. We need some young guys at offensive tackle to step up and prove to us that they’re ready to play and I hope they will. I feel good about where we are coming out of spring and I’m looking forward to seeing those guys getting even more aggressive and play better.”
On when he might name captains and the process he'll take for deciding that:
“We’ll address that with the staff when we get close. I want to make sure that the guys representing us on the field before the game are guys that have earned it and deserve it, and we’ll see how many we have before Game 1. Our M.O. in Florida was to have a leadership council and rotate guys that were captains for games off of that leadership council. That’s not what’s been done here and I’m going to be really careful to not break too many traditions. So, I think as the first game comes up we’ll make a decision on how we’re going to approach that.”
On using input from the strength staff to inform decicisons with the fall camp roster:
“We treat our strength staff like they’re full-time assistant coaches because they are. Zach Duval, Jasen Carlson and Andrew Strope spend more time with our players than we do, particularly in the summer when we can’t be around them. So their input had a lot to do with who’s in the 110. It probably won’t have anything to do with the depth chart but, to me, it doesn’t matter who takes the first rep of the first practice in the fall. I’m sure it’ll be similar to the way it left off in spring, but that’s just a taking off point. We’ll get to it from there once guys earn it and beat everybody else out.”
On how he would categorize the quarterback competition:
“Have you ever played ‘Monopoly’? You know how the race car, the horse, and the iron and the battleship are on ‘Go’ to begin with? Everybody’s on ‘Go’ right now. We might even roll a dice to see who can roll a six and take the first rep. We’ll see.”
On the running back room getting a little crowded with Washington's addition:
“I know Maurice Washington was a great high school player and I know he’s a talented kid but I have no idea what he’s going to bring to the table. We’ll see how prepared and ready he is and how quickly he learns things.
"We’ve got some good depth at the running back spot and that gives me a lot of confidence. I think several guys had good springs. We need to stay healthy there, too.
"We feel good about where Tre Bryant is — he’s going to be added to that mix. I think Miles Jones will take reps in the slot as well as at running back. So, as many reps as we get in practice, the guys that run a lot — DBs, receivers, running backs — you don’t have a lot of guys taking the reps, you end up with some minor injuries, so I’m glad we have the depth we have and it’ll sort that stuff out.”
On how important it is to have a specific quarterback coach:
“I think it’s a huge advantage. I was an offensive coordinator and quarterback coach, and there’s a lot of work to get done to get quarterbacks ready to play. There’s also a lot of work that the offensive coordinator has to do and sometimes juggling those things is tough. I think it makes it easier to have an offensive-minded head coach. I think if it was on the defensive side and you’re trying to do both it’d be a lot. But when we game plan it’s all of us. It’s not just Troy [Walters], it’s not just me, Greg [Austin], and Coach [Sean] Beckton. Several other people have input. That makes it easy, and then we can all just focus on our jobs and come together and collaborate for that.
"Mario [Verduzco] is as good a quarterback technician as anybody I’ve been around. Troy is great at organizing everything for us, we work really well in tandem with one another."
On managing Tre Bryant’s health:
“It’s not just Tre, it’s a lot of guys. Anybody else with anything that’s a little bit nagging, or not coming in 100 percent, we need to be smart with them. I think that was a plan from before, and I don’t know if it worked out that way but I’m just going to have to be really attentive to what’s going on, listen to Mark Mayer, listen to Zach Duval, make sure they keep me up to speed on how he’s feeling and as long as he’s ready to play when it’s his time, I’ll feel good about it. So, he’ll be able to share reps with all those other guys, and we’ll take it as it goes and see how he feels day-to-day.”
On talk from the players that this can be more than just a rebuilding season:
“I hope that’s what they're saying. That’s why I’m going to address the team and tell them it’s time to prove it, it’s time to show it. Now it’s the time. If we have anybody go into the season thinking this is going to be a rebuilding year, we’re not going to accomplish as much as if we attack it.
"It’s a natural progression when you have a team that is coming off a tough season, that you have to first get them thinking they can win, and then get them to know they can win, get them to expect to win. I don’t know where we are in that process right now, but confidence, self-advocacy and belief in it can get it done. It’s a big part of success, and sometimes confidence only comes when you have experienced success, so I hope we have some early."
On how to balance the message of wanting to win this year vs. building the program for the long-term:
“I don’t think that message needs to be said. We have guys on the coaching staff that are as competitive of guys as you’ll find anywhere. The kind of guys that don’t like to lose at pickup basketball or anything they do. Talking to the guys, I think if you ask them how hard we worked this offseason, I don’t think there’s any thought in their minds that we’re looking past this year. We’re looking at today. And today we’re going to have a meeting, make sure we get some sleep and then we’re going to be looking at tomorrow when we wake up. We’re going to attack that and try to conquer.”
On how many freshmen walk-on players are on the fall camp roster:
“I’d have to count quick in my head, but there are several that are getting an opportunity. I couldn’t tell you that number, being honest right now.”
On transfer quarterback Noah Vedral applying for an NCAA waiver to play this season:
“We’re still trying to decide whether we’re going to push for that or not. We’d love to see Noah be able to play. I know what he can do on a football field, and he’s been as good a teammate this offseason and worked as hard as anybody in our program, so we’ll go to bat for him, just like we’ll go to bat for any player if we have an opportunity to.”
On a possible medical redshirt for Tre Bryant:
“I don’t know that. I have to look into that. Typically, you have to miss two seasons because of injury to be awarded a sixth season. We’ll look into that. Get back to me on that.”
On transfer defensive back Tre Neal’s status:
“He’s officially graduated. We were waiting on verification of that from UCF. He’s a great kid, he did some great things for UCF when I was there. I think he graduated and wanted an opportunity here and we’re glad to have him. He played a big role on what we were able to accomplish and I think he’ll be up and ready to go on practice one."
On whether it will take him some time to learn everyone's name:
“When you’re around people all day, every day for four weeks, if you have any kind of memory you have it down by the end of that. But just to give us a little help, they put numbers on the front and back of jerseys now, so I’m not sure but I might use that as a tool.”
On if players will put their hometown area codes on helmets like they did at UCF:
“Yeah, maybe. The guys took a lot of pride in that. You play first and foremost for the name on the front of your jersey, your team, and guys take pride in playing for the name on the back of their jersey, their family. But a lot of young men have a lot of pride in where they come from too, so I’m fine with it if that’s the decision the team makes.”
On the status of sophomore wideout JD Spielman:
“JD had a great freshman year obviously. I’m excited about his potential in our offense and I think our offense is a great fit for him.
"That’s a great lead-in for me to make sure and just emphasize the point we’re not going talk a lot about injuries during the year, and it’s for no other reason than I want to keep our kids safe and I don’t want any of it out there.
"So, going forward as we get closer to games I won’t give much update on that unless somebody’s out for the season, then obviously we’ll report that. We’ll answer that now that JD’s ready to go and we feel good about him being full-speed.”
On the Ohio State investigation:
“It’s just unfortunate. I think everybody would agree with that. I think our thoughts and prayers need to be with everyone, particularly any victim of anything like that. But you know, it’s not my place to comment on something that’s happened at another university and I just hope everybody that has been affected by that ends in a good place.”
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.