Unless you have been hiding under a rock, it has been plainly obvious that the offensive side of the ball has been underperforming for Nebraska football. The defensive side of the ball on the other hand appears to be the strongest it has been in quite some time.
This is not what we expected from a Scott Frost coached team when he was hired. It was actually the exact opposite.
Remember the comment from Frost during his first press conference?
“I’m hoping the Big Ten has to modify their system to us.”
Well that didn’t happen.
I don’t fault Scott Frost for the comment. He probably actually believed it. Can you blame him after the season he had at UCF? I mean they were “National Champions” and their offense was flying up and down the field. They even finished the season with a win over a 10 win Auburn football team.
Scott Frost showed up on campus and expected to do the same thing. He recruited the type of players he had at UCF. It was speed, speed, and more speed. The players were smaller but Frost expected them to out run Big Ten defenders.
In order to go fast the practices had to be fast. In fact, they went so fast in practice they couldn’t even correct a mistake. Those mistakes would be addressed during the positional meetings.
What we experienced on the field was not what was expected. Instead of a stream of explosive plays there were quick three and outs. Drive killing penalties. In fact, the statistics showed that drives with a penalty almost always resulted in a punt. Those drives without penalties almost always resulted in points.
Then of course when you go 100 mph and it results in a three and out then it puts your defense on the field and then boom you end up winning only four, five and three (8 games) games in your first three seasons.
Things are a-changing it appears.
Go back to the beginning of spring practice as we get a little gem from Offensive Line coach Greg Austin. “I give him (Coach Frost) a lot of credit, he’s changed up some of the things we do in practice. Allowed us to really emphasize finishing. Through the first couple practices, it’s been really cool to see us playing until the end of the whistle. Less emphasis on going fast.”
Here’s another one...
“He’s allowed us to really emphasize finishing. It’s been really cool to see us playing until the end of the whistle. Less emphasis on going fast. That’s a big adjustment. You want to get more explosive plays, you’ve got to stick on blocks longer. You can’t just stick on blocks if you’re tired as shit.”
I think this was a big deal. It likely was not quite a complete philosophical change but there definitely has been a few tweaks. “Tweaks” would be putting it nicely.
Another change, though maybe not as obvious is the type of players the coaching staff has been recruiting on the offensive side of the ball.
The running backs they are bringing into the program the past couple of years are bigger. They are more downhill runners.
The wide receivers are taller though maybe not as fast.
The quarterbacks are closer to pro-style throwers. Though they are not wearing cement boots when they are asked to run. I thought the ideal quarterback for this offense was a good-to-great thrower who could go get you a first down on 3rd and 10 with his feet. He doesn’t need to be a burner.
This is easily seen through the signing of Heinrich Haarberg in 2021 and the commitment of Richard Torres for the 2022 class. Both Haarberg and Torres are listed as 6’5” or taller. Smothers and Martinez are both listed at 6’2”. Even that may be generous.
Torres is actually considered by Rivals to be a “pro-style” quarterback.
It is apparent that Nebraska has make concerted efforts to get bigger and taller at the skill positions. They have even been willing to sacrifice a little speed in order to get to this point.
Scott Frost and the staff probably came to Nebraska a little arrogant and over-confident. Hard to blame them for the success they had at UCF. It may have taken then a couple seasons to figure out that they needed to make changes in order to compete in the Big Ten. It is a different league than the American Athletic Conference.
We can be critical of the staff for the mistakes it made. At the same time we should give them credit for making what appears to be necessary adjustments on the offensive side of the ball.
Frost appears to be willing to make changes even if it means he may have to go a little bit slower.