Who's Playing QB
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Who’s Playing QB, a Washington Meeting and Other Practice Notes

October 24, 2019

A quick scene from Thursday’s post-practice availability.

Question: Do you have an idea of where you are at quarterback right now or will this thing go up to game time?

Scott Frost: “I have an idea where we are at quarterback.”

Question: Do you want to tell us who’s playing quarterback? 

Frost: “No, I don’t.”

And scene. 

Adrian Martinez practiced this week and last. With a knee brace over an injured knee, the sophomore quarterback was moving better this week and involved in more. Noah Vedral, Martinez’s primary backup, was “dinged” against Minnesota the last time out, but has been right there throughout practice as well. Luke McCaffrey, with one game of his four under the redshirt rule used, “came in and worked harder to learn our stuff than any quarterback I’ve been around,” Frost said. 

The game plan for Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. CT kick against Indiana is set. 

Nebraska feels confident any of its three quarterbacks can execute that plan. 

But much like Hoosier head coach Tom Allen is taking his quarterback mystery right up until kick—he told reporters Thursday that regular starter Michael Penix Jr. had practiced this week but was still a game-time decision—Frost isn’t interested in tipping his hand.

With an Indiana offense that looks a lot like Nebraska’s when Frost watches it (“Watching them, I could call most of the things I see and our kids could go out and run it,” Frost said), the IU defense has plenty of experience defending what the Huskers are going to try and throw at it. And this Hoosier defense is currently 25th in the country in yards per play allowed, so Frost isn’t trying to give it any help.

Other News and Notes

>> Running back Maurice Washington is going to have another conversation with Frost soon to discuss whether he wants to return to the team. Frost announced Monday that Washington would not play against Indiana and hasn’t been with the team or practicing since the start of the Huskers’ bye week. 

Frost said Monday that he will always try and help a player, but effort is a two-way street. “There always comes a point where you have to throw your hands up and say, ‘We tried,’” Frost said at the time. But Nebraska might not yet be at that point. If the sophomore wants to return, it seems there’s a path back.

“I think if he does want to come back there’s going to be a lot of things he needs to do to earn his team’s trust back and our trust back,” Frost said Thursday. “We’ll see where it goes from there.”

>> No update on Barret Pickering. The sophomore kicker started practicing this week, but he’s missed the entire season to this point with an unknown injury. Frost, per usual, wouldn’t say whether Pickering would play Saturday, instead opting for, “We’ll see who we have at kicker.”

>> Dedrick Mills will be the No. 1 running back against the Hoosiers, Frost said. After him, expect a by-committee approach. Rahmir Johnson is expected to be a larger-than-normal part of the game plan, and Frost said walk-ons Brody Belt and Wyatt Mazour also could see time. 

“Brody’s been doing good things, obviously Wyatt Mazour’s been doing good things here for a long time, then there’s several other guys I think we’re going to be able to use,” Frost said. “It’ll be by-committee with Mills being the lead guy but a lot of guys are excited about playing.”

If we already know Johnson is going to be involved, there’s only one other guy who has played running back this season that could fall under the “several other guys” umbrella.

>> Nebraska’s entire approach to the bye week was getting “back to basics” in an attempt, at least offensively, to find something they could do well and replicate. Build an identity. Asked what he wanted Nebraska’s identity to be over the last five games, Frost pushed back that it had ever changed.

“We’re going to score points,” he said. “That needs to be the expectation. We’re not going to change our identity, the identity that our kids know works when we do things the right way and we’ve just got to keep working and keep getting better. The kids know who we are and what we’re all about and we’ll go out and do the best we can.”

>> One thing that seems to have rubbed the fanbase a little raw is the “best practice” comment that seems to pop up throughout the week in a run-up to the game, seemingly the practice stuff has not translated to the field. 

Frost seemed aware.

“We had a really good practice, so we’ve got to go out and execute like that. I think the guys are, for the most part, rested and recovered, and we’re getting healthier, so I think the key thing is just going out on Saturday and executing what we have in,” he said. “Some of the little detail stuff we got fixed and improved over the bye week needs to carry over to the game.”

What were some of the things he felt got cleaned up?

“I think we can be a little more detailed in our route-running on offense. I think the ball can come out of the quarterback’s hands a little quicker. I think our offensive line needs to stay on blocks and move people a little better,” he said. “Some of that’s making sure that we continue to improve from a talent standpoint, and some of it is just technique and we can do everything we can to make sure the technique’s right and the guys are dialed in to what we want to do. 

“Same defensively, if you look at a few of our issues, it’s just guys being a little late to a gap, not quite being where they’re supposed to be, eyes being in the wrong place. Some of those things can get fixed right now.”

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