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Nebraska Spring Football Practice Update April 12

The team did a lot of good things in the scrimmage last Friday

Jon Johnston

Scott Frost’s weekly press conference after spring practice was held earlier today. A lot of the questions revolved around the scrimmage held on Friday.

**Usual disclaimer** I am typing this while listening in real time and these are NOT exact quotes. I do my best to convey what is being said but if you need some clarification on anything I’m happy to go back to the audio and get exact wording.

Head Coach Scott Frost

How did you feel about the scrimmage?

It was a good spring scrimmage. I was impressed with how the guys came out with good intensity, excitement, enthusiasm to play. There’s some stuff we gotta clean up, but that’s kind of natural this time of year, but as long as they are giving the effort that we’re asking for, it’s up to us as coaches to fix some things.

There’s some really good things that happened on both sides of the ball. There’s a lot of young guys that got a lot of reps. It’s always good to get some live tackling in and we came out of it pretty healthy, so it was successful overall.

How many plays did you guys go in that scrimmage?

I don’t remember the total number, but it was a lot. It was between 120-130 total plays if memory serves.

Have you been able to get some more running backs out there and what do you see about the short term future at that spot?

Yeah. Reps are valuable. There is competition going on at every position. RB is one of the spots where we’re looking for the guy to step up and take control of it. Some guys have been out so that has given other guys an opportunity to do well. I was impressed with Gabe Ervin in the scrimmage. Jaquez [Yant] did some good things. So, while some guys are out, it has given other guys the opportunity to make some plays.

How did Yant matriculate to Nebraska? He’s a walk-on but a pretty high quality walk-on.

I give Coach Fisher the credit for getting him here. They went to the same high school in Tallahassee. Jaq had some opportunities and some offers and it didn’t look like he was going to qualify academically and he did a lot of work at the end to get eligible and decided to walk on here and he’s doing a great job. He’s a great addition to the team and if he is a guy that keeps on the track he’s on, I don’t expect him to be a walk on his entire career.

You will hold an open practice this Saturday for the fans. What went into that decision and what do you guys hope to have happen?

There’s a lot that went into it. I’m sure you’re smart enough to figure out what went into it. But our fans haven’t been into the stadium to watch us for over a year so it’s always great to get some people into Memorial Stadium to see us. I think it’s a great change up for the team to go out on Saturday rather than Friday morning and I’m anxious to have some people see what we’re doing. I expect we’ll be a little vanilla and not show a whole lot but I think it will give people a glimpse into what a whole practice looks like.

Wondering about sharing playcalling duties down the stretch. Does spring feel any different to you or do you find it’s pretty similar?

No, it’s pretty similar. The longer we work together and are around each other, Lubick and I, the more we’re on the same page. Most of spring practice is scripted but there are a few call periods and I let him call those for the most part. But most of the plays we’re running in spring, I’m scripting a day before or three days before. It’s been good to have Matt around here and I’m sure we’ll continue down the same path we’ve been on.

Jill’s note: As long as “same path” doesn’t mean horizontal passes, turnovers and penalties...

How is the competition between Logan and Adrian shaping up? What did that look like to you on Friday?

I thought the quarterbacks had a good day on Friday. I think Adrian’s play is improving. He is doing some good quarterbacking right now. Behind him is going to be interesting. I was impressed Friday. I thought Logan Smothers had his best day at Nebraska. Matt Masker has been doing good things, controlling the offense. And Haarberg, everyone is impressed with his athletic ability and arm strength. He has a long way to go learning it, but he is working hard and doing a good job and his talent shines through. We’re going to let them compete and get better.

This tells me that short of a cataclysimc event, Adrian is our starter. Do not even entertain the idea that Logan Smothers is going to make up ground on a four-year starter, even a turnover prone one, in spring ball.

You’ve been enthusiastic about the potential of the wide receivers. What is your progress report so far?

Yeah, I’d have to say it was out best day as a WR corps since I’ve been at Nebraska. A lot of guys getting reps and a lot of talent in that group. Coach Lubick has been doing a good job with that group. We’ve had some good additions with Samori Toure coming in - he made some good plays Friday. Omar was out there and made a couple of plays for us. Zavier had a play. Will Nixon did some good things. Barron Miles did some good things. Oliver Martin has been exceptional through spring. Levi and Wyatt are making plays. I don’t want to leave anyone out. This is as deep a talent as we’ve had in that room and we’ve got to be sure we have time for quarterbacks to throw because I expect guys to get down the field better for us.

The part about Oliver Martin was encouraging, but when the coach feels the need to list everyone on the roster, I get a bit nervous that there is not a lot of standout play.

Speaking of arm strength, Adrian said his arm is stronger this spring and that he feels faster and more athletic. How do you feel like he has worked on his body and his throwing?

The throwing has been great. Physically he looks great; he has been healthy. He looks leaner to me. I think he has been putting in the work in winter conditioning with Zach [Duval]. When he takes off now, he looks like a 4.4 guy; he looks like a guy that can really run and be a weapon. I think he did a lot of work in the offseason. Mostly I think Adrian is in a good place mentally. I think he’s real comfortable and playing with more confidence.

Garrett Nelson was very complimentary of the offense and the back and forth between them even with the defense being a veteran group. Has that been how you’ve seen it? Even? Is there usually one side of the ball that has an advantage?

In spring ball not so much. In fall camp, the defense usually has an advantage as you try to get stuff installed. Shoot, I remember my junior year and the defense was all back and the offense was young and we got out tails kicked every day. I think it has been a real back and forth right now. Even today, I thought the defense got the best of our run station and 7x7 and the last two teams [team periods] the offense kind of answered. That’s what you want to see. If one group turns it up, the other one has to increase the intensity and effort. I’ve been pleased with both sides of the ball.

Logan [Smothers]. What did you want to see from him in gains this spring and what did you see last Friday?

To put it simply, it was the best I’ve seen him throw it last Friday. He and Mario have worked on his stroke a little. He has always been a quick decision maker and sees the field well, he’s accurate and gets the ball out of his hands... He can run well so he made a couple plays with his feet too. We get all that squared away and I think the big thing for him is reps and confidence.

With Heinrich [Haarberg] you didn’t really have a chance to see him throw with the timing of the shut down and everything last spring. Where was he compared to where you thought you might have him when he got to campus?

He’s the type of kid, we aren’t going to mess with how he throws it much because it just jumps out of his hand. With him, it is more getting comfortable with the offense, gaining confidence and making his reads because his ability will take care of the rest.

Have you gotten any directive or expectations from the Big Ten on vaccinations? Or do they leave that up to individual schools?

We haven’t gotten any direction on vaccinations yet. It’s my opinion but the kids on our team should be the last in line for something like that because they are so young and healthy. I’ll wait on more advice from our leadership at the university and athletic department and Big Ten before I comment much. I assume at some point that the vaccinations will be available for our guys. I don’t think I will make in mandatory, I don’t think that’s right, but I want to give our guys the opportunity to get vaccinated if they want to.

On Thursday, the NCAA is expected to approve the transfer waiver [one time transfer waiver] which will make Markese Stepp eligible for you guys. But I’m curious, what do you think the positive and negatives of that rule are, not just for this program, but college football?

That’s a big question Sam. I don’t see it just this year, it is something I think will be permanent. It will create a new dynamic that will be tough. It’s tough for me to comment because from a player’s standpoint, it’s fair for them to have the opportunity to play wherever they want. It can be a headache for guys like me in the coaching business. I would comment more but I don’t think my opinion matters. It will change the landscape for everything. All the transfers you saw this year, I expect you will see those numbers stay high. There are usually more transfers than spots for them...hopefully that normalizes a bit because I don’t think it is in the kids’ best interests, usually, to see them jumping around as much as we do now.

Do you prefer a special dispensation for just transfers, like five scholarships each school can have that don’t have - that aren’t necessarily part of the 25 [allowed to sign each year] but just their own thing?
(Jill’s note: I’m not sure I heard the rest of the question correctly but it sounded like something to be sure kids that are transferring have a better shot at finding a new program)

There’s a lot of things to talk about in regards to it. If you lose a lot of transfers can you sign more than 25? Your threory makes sense. If there are a ton of kids that want to transfer and rather than shut off the fountain or plug the drain and telling schools they can only take so many. I know there’s a ton of things being talked about and I’m sure we won’t have much to do with the decision with that. I think we are headed in a little bit of a dangerous place with that. If kids are jumping around...ending up in worse situations...there’s statistics that say that kids are less likely to get their degree when they transfer, so I’m sure they’ll continue to look at that and hopefully we land in a good place.

Final comments

I just want to finish with a congratulations to Paul and the bowling team. That’s exciting. There’s nothing better than winning a championship. We were watching that this weekend. and we’ll be watching Coach Cook and the volleyball team this week. Go Big Red.