Nebraska Cornhusker Head Football Coach Scott Frost met with the media on Thursday in advance of the team opening fall camp in preparation for the 2019 season, which begins on Aug. 31, at home in an 11 a.m. start against South Alabama.
Head Coach Scott Frost
Transcript of media comments from Thursday, Aug. 1.
On the team’s progress over the summer
“We haven’t met yet, we’re actually going to meet this afternoon and go over simple stuff like schedule and expectations and talk about some big picture things as well. I think the thing that has impressed upon me is we’ve had a really good summer. I think the guys have done a lot of work, made a lot of progress. I think they’ve put themselves in a position to accomplish a lot of things, but none of that matters until we go earn it and we’ve got to start earning it on the field tomorrow. It’s not a thing where you earn it on the field on Saturdays during games. It’s earned in practice, and they have put themselves in a position to accomplish those things if they go out and earn it.”
On what he sees from the team
“I’ve been really pleased with the turnaround of the attitude on the team, the togetherness of the team. I’ve been around a lot of teams and usually the majority of the team, on good teams, is doing things the right way and looking after each other. There’s always some outliers, and there’s always going to be outliers, but we have very few guys that aren’t completely 100 percent in, holding each other accountable and living up to a standard that we expect. We have it on this team right now to a degree that I haven’t seen very often, so if we can get to work on the field and start executing well with that kind of attitude, I think some good things will happen.”
On what he wants to see from the team
“I want this team to prove that it can be tough. We have some tough guys on the team, for sure. We have some other guys that I think are going to be tough. We have some young guys that still have to prove it. To win in this league you have to be tough and you have to be physical. I think our talent level, our speed, our strength, all those things are going to be considerably better this year, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t go hit somebody in the face on the field. We need to block and tackle with that kind of mentality.”
On how preparation for the season will go
“From a scheduling standpoint, we have a formula that works. We’re going to try to work the guys into condition to play gradually, work them outside in the heat gradually, so a lot of our M.O. is going to stay the same and won’t change. I think what is going to be noticeably different is just where we are starting from understanding of our scheme standpoint. Last year we had one spring under our belt, but we were still going out and going through install and taking it slow to make sure guys knew all the details. The majority of the guys we’re going to be counting on this year we can lineup and just go run a huge percentage of our playbook on day one if we needed to. So we’re not going to skip over some of the little details that maybe we skipped over last year, but from an understanding standpoint it’s going to be completely different.”
On a gem last season that showed the team’s toughness
“I think our team showed some grit and character in the Michigan State game for sure, that was a good team that we played. Definitely one of the better defenses we played and our guys found a way. Good teams, disciplined teams and tough teams find ways to win instead of finding ways to lose a game. Toward the end of the year we were starting to do that.”
On how the finish of last season has impacted the team
“I think finishing the way we did helped guys believe in our process for getting things done more than anything. I think we could use not a confidence boost; our guys are confident, but just that evidence that what we’re doing is going to pay dividends in the end. Toward the end of the year I think they got that. We won our share of games, and even the ones we lost, Northwestern, Ohio State, Iowa, we had chances. So, I think our guys are going into this season knowing that we are a better team today than we were then and hoping that the progress that we’ve made is enough to get us over the top in some of those games.”
On the depth of the team
“We are a lot deeper team than we were a year ago at certain positions. We’re a team that, I’ve said this, still has a couple holes, still has some depth issues in a couple places, but we’ve also fixed those things in quite a few places. D-line in particular I point to, we’re going to be pretty deep this year, even with some new talent coming in. Those guys are going to have to prove it on the field to get out on the field and play, and I think there’s going to be a lot of guys we are going to trust to be out there. The other positions, we’ll see on depth. I feel really good about the secondary and our front line guys right now, but we need to make sure that some of the young guys and some of the guys that didn’t play last year are capable of going in and playing at a high level. Linebacker, inside and outside, we need some guys to step up, and I don’t think the depth there is what we want it to be yet, but we have a whole camp here to work with some young guys and some new guys to get them to that point. We’re a lot closer than we were, but we’re going to continue adding depth. I think our walk-on program will continue contributing to the depth as we go along, and we’re in a better place today, but I hope we’re in an even better place tomorrow.”
On depth at center
“Cam Jurgens moved there in the fall last year. We have to wait and see on his health and where he’s going to be. Will Farniok will probably be the starter there, Hunter Miller will take some reps. I think Trent Hixson is capable of moving over, a couple of the other guards are capable of moving over and playing some center. Ethan Piper is a kid that we initially thought about playing on defense that we are probably going to move over to offense to try and help the interior of the offensive line. We’re going to give all those guys a shot, starting with Will and one of them I hope steps up and takes it.”
On running backs
“Running back is going to be interesting. We have several new guys. We’re going to throw those guys into the deep end and give them reps. Typically in a camp like we run it, we get so many offensive and defensive snaps per practice that those guys get worn out and aren’t necessarily wanting more reps. We have a couple receivers I think that can take some running back snaps as well, but we will divide those guys up and get them all a lot of work and see who comes out of the pack.”
On Cam Jurgens’ camp status
“We’re going to keep Cam in the 110 and try and figure out when he can go full speed.”
On if Maurice Washington will be able to play at the start of the season
“That’s a long way down the road. Right now I’m worried about him doing the right things day by day. Just to be consistent, we’re not going to make any decisions on anything until we have more clarity. All I expect him to do is come to camp, be a good teammate, show up, be where he’s supposed to be and continue working as if he’s going to play and we’ll see where the chips fall.”
On Dedrick Mills
"Dedrick has done a really good job. I haven’t seen him on the field yet. We aren’t allowed to be out their in the summer when they’re throwing balls around and doing drills. Seeing him in the weight room, he physically looks like how we want him to look, and the reports we have gotten back have been good. There’s quite a few new guys and freshmen that I am anxious to see on day one. You can tell a lot about their preparedness and mentality on day one. It’s not always accurate, but you can tell a lot about who is going to play on day one."
On Maurice Washington
"It is unfortunate that not all of this has been worked out to this point, but I am certainly keeping it as far away from me and the team as I can. That process has got to be worked out on its own time, and when the decision is made and its just me making it and the leaders in the athletic department and the university as well. Like I said, we have to go about our own work and he does, too. We will just let the chips fall where they may once we get more clarity."
On Ronald Thompkins
"Ronald is still getting healthy. We obviously don’t want to talk about injuries, but I don’t think he’ll be full go at the beginning of this camp but maybe at some point of this camp he will be. I know he is a super-talented kid. We are anxious to see what he can do and compare the rest of the running backs. I think that the time when he is able to do that is not too far away."
On if Ronald Thompkins is on the 110
"No, Ronald won’t be on the 110. We are allowed to bring in guys who work with our trainers who aren’t on the 110, but they can’t attend meetings or practice. He will be in rehab."
On if any running back can be plugged into Frost’s type of offense and still have success
"I would like to give our coaches all the credit and the scheme the credit but without good players you don’t win. We need guys at their skill positions that when they get their chance, they can make big plays. I think we have more of them today than we did a year ago at this same press conference. So we have done a good job of developing and adding talent. I can’t wait to see these guys perform. That being said, I think our offense provides a lot of opportunities in those areas, and we will start seeing those guys with those opportunities in practice tomorrow and see how things shake out."
On if Frost expected to be able to run a large amount of playbook early in fall camp
"No, that’s just kind of the evolution of year two. You are still teaching a lot of the concepts in year one. In year two, they know the basic concepts, their assignments and their rules. I think there’s two advantages to that. One, they are ahead with understanding so there are fewer mistakes. Two, we are going to be able to address the little details and little things that we had to speed past last year on the offensive and defensive end. So I expect there to be better execution, tighter execution, better detail. I think even our true freshmen are at a better point now than they were last year. Just because they are coming in and working with guys who understand it and with coaches who understand it and have been around it a long time. From an understanding standpoint and a detail standpoint, I expect us to be way ahead just because it is year two in the schemes."
On the wide receivers
"Troy Walters has done a good job and our recruiting staff has done a good job. Wide receiver is kind of like the D-line where we have really added to the position and the depth. There's going to be a huge competition at that position. Obviously JD (Spielman) proved what he can do on the field and will be a leader for us on the field at that position. There is a dozen other guys who have the ability to play or to start. We are going to let those guys compete. There are a lot of guys with talent that are going to come down to consistency and reliability. If they are in the right place; if they are running the right route; if they are in the right spot; and if Adrian and the rest of them can trust them to be there and catch it, that’s probably what is going to separate them. We will see who comes out on top. I’m really confident we are going to have a lot more receivers capable of going in and playing this year."
On naming captains
"I don’t want to depart from Nebraska tradition anywhere I don’t have to. There’s a whole wall down by their locker room of the four captains every year. We’ll probably do it the same way and wait until the end of fall camp and close to our first game and let the players vote for the four captains for the year. We've got plenty of guys who are deserving this year."
On if the captains will just be seniors or if they will open it up to others
"We still have to talk about that. I think typically it was just seniors. I am kind of of the mindset that if there is a good leader that deserves it and the players vote for him then I will let him be a captain."
On if Frost welcomes the expectations the media has set for the team
"Coming back to Nebraska, I expected to come here and coach with expectations for a long time. We had to get it to that point first. We are just nearing that mile marker right now of having expectations. We haven’t done anything yet, so I kind of feel like some of the expectations are premature, but I am happy for the guys that they have done what it takes to get them to that point. We are going to shut out the outside noise as soon as we get started tomorrow and not worry about who is picking us in what game or what people think we are going to accomplish this year. We are going to go to work. It helps us a little bit from a confidence standpoint that other people can see what is happening here. Aside from that we are going to shut it all out and be the best team we can be."
On where he put Nebraska in the Preseason Coaches Poll
"I didn’t put us in the Top 25. I hope that we are at the end of the year. Any progress that we made is just progress until we go out and earn it."
On how Frost personally feels going into his second season
"I like this team a lot better going into this year. Just seeing the look on these guys' faces when I walk past them in the hallway, just seeing the guys hanging out together, addressing each other, being in the building, there is a different feel this year. More of a winning feel. A feel I am used to. I can’t wait to go to work with these guys. We put in a lot of work this offseason to get to this point. There is always some butterflies in your stomach when this point and this day comes around. I think everybody is in shape and primed and ready and rested to go to work. We have a lot to accomplish."
On how much more the players feel responsible to the team and the program
"You’d have to ask them that. I know there's a lot guys on the staff that love Nebraska, cherish their time here, and would do anything for the red and white. I think the players can see that. One of my goals as a coach is to make sure they feel the same way about this university and this state that I feel about it and how Barrett Ruud feels about and Greg Austin and Ryan Held. We will keep presenting those messages to them. Aside from that, I would be speculating on how they feel. I do feel a great sense of pride from our team right now to be a part of what they are a part of."
On what Frost expects to see from Adrian Martinez on and off the field
“More confidence. I can already see it with Adrian. He’s not an arrogant guy, and I don’t think he ever will be. I can just see his confidence growing. There was a lot of freshman mistakes that he made last year that probably seem like kindergarten class to him right now. I expect him to be a leader a lot more this year. I think he’s more comfortable with the fact that he’s going to be the face of our offense and the leader on offense. I hope to see the jump that I expect to see from a year one quarterback to a year two quarterback and I hope it starts tomorrow.”
On Martinez saying he dissects the bad plays more than he remembers the good ones
“Makes me feel like Adrian is the type of guy that absolutely wants to do everything right as great as he can do it. That’s just kind of an athlete’s mindset. Even when you play golf you don’t remember the good shots you remember the shank right. Thinking back about my career, the bad plays stand out probably more than the good ones because when you are a competitor and a winner you expect the good things to happen, and when you do it and something good happens it’s just something you think should happen. Really that’s a good sign because when the mistakes and the bad plays are an anomaly and happen less often than the good plays then you’re probably a pretty good player."
On if toughness can be trained
“Oh absolutely. I think toughness is a mentality. A lot of it is earned in the offseason in the weight room and on the field and in ways like that. We’re also going to have physical practices. We’re going to compete and hit each other and compete in practice, and if you ask me what made our team tough when I was playing it was the day-to-day challenge of going up against some of the guys you had to go up against. We’re going to have a lot of live periods, we’re going to have a lot of competitive periods, and I hope our guys get comfortable in that kind of arena where they’re having to go to battle with some other really good player and try to come out on top.”
On the benefits of physical practices
“I guess I can tell you guys a story. We had Coach Osborne come down and speak to our team in Orlando right before year two during camp and there was a million things that were valuable that he said, but one of the things that made an impression on us as a staff was him reminding us that on Tuesdays and Wednesdays even during the season we had live periods, ones on ones. We adopted that that year. You always run a risk as a head coach when you make that decision because you can get somebody tweaked or hurt in practice, but the benefit that we thought we gained just staying sharp. Kind of refining our toughness and grit was more valuable than any potential risk of getting someone injured, and that’s a tough decision as a head coach but I think it paid off that year. I think we’re deep enough or getting close to deep enough to doing some of those same things. Tuesdays when I was playing was my least favorite day because it was live ones versus ones pass skelly full team pass, and those guys used to pin their ears back and come get it. Those were the practices that made us better too.”
On if Nebraska practiced live, ones-vs-ones last year in the middle of the week
“We did it some last year. I think our players are in a better position to have the endurance to get through the season this year and continue to do it this year. I think we have better depth, so we’re not going to be as worried getting one guy nicked up in a period like that. I think we’ll ramp it up this year and make sure our guys are continuing to compete, but we did it some last year.”
On the Unity Council
“We actually already have a group identified that comes up and meets with us as coaches once in a while - keeps us abreast at things. We put a lot of things on those guys in terms of responsibility to make sure the team is doing things the right way, and I think we’re real close to sitting down and figuring out how to implement the Unity Council closer to the way people at Nebraska know it.”
On how Damian Jackson
“D-Jacks is awesome. It’s like talking to another adult that I wouldn’t want to tangle with. He’s got the respect of the coaching staff, the players and everybody in the building. Regardless of how much he may or may not help us on the field he’s going to be a huge asset for us and he’s definitely been the leader of that leadership group, so we’re lucky to have him around.”
On Fan Day
“It’s awesome. I couldn’t believe it last year, it’s been decades since the last time I was at one of these. The interest level in Nebraska fans never ceases to amaze me. I think there was probably a mistake made in our athletic department that I haven’t addressed. They were trying to figure out my line. I think there was a five hour line and some people that were standing there for hours never even got up there to see me. First of all, I’m grateful to Husker fans for being willing to do those things. We were trying to figure out how to just do it for kids, and I think they rolled it out the wrong way, so I spent a bunch of my summer signing 1,200 8x10s so the first 1,200 kids that come in today will get a signature, and I’ll get to meet a lot of other people. I’m excited about it but I’m also excited to get it over with and start practicing.”
On if he is allowed to comment on Jahkeem Green
“No, we can’t really comment on anyone until they show up for camp.”
On special teams battles this season
“I think punter, kicker, holder, snapper those are important jobs and we’re going to let them compete just like we let everyone else compete. There’s a little more pressure on that because there is a lot more limited number of times where they’re able to show what they can do to the coaching staff, but I've got a lot of faith in Isaac (Armstrong) and that’s great but we’re going to let people compete at every position, so we’ll see how that pans out.”
On his excitement to get out on the field for the first time
“Can’t wait. Right when summer starts you’re a little bit tired and ready for a vacation. Talking to the coaches today they feel like I do in that you get away for a while and that just makes you hungry to get back. Like I said, I think everybody is primed and ready, we’re all rested and eager to go. It all starts tomorrow. Can’t wait.”
On Coach Jovan Dewitt
“Jovan is doing great. Back in the office he was just running a special teams meeting for the coaches to make sure we’re all on the same page, and he seems to be lively and be ready to be a part of what we’re doing.”