Red Report: Frost talks Friday scrimmage, open practice upcoming, bowling national title

Nebraska head coach Scott Frost (left) and linebacker Damian Jackson (38) share a laugh during a spring football practice Wednesday at Hawks Championship Center.

Nebraska coach Scott Frost on Monday said he thought his team got a lot of quality work in during a closed 120-130-snap scrimmage on Friday. 

This weekend, the general public will get a look for themselves when the Huskers open a Saturday afternoon practice to up to 4,000 fans

Frost said without saying it that Nebraska is opening the practice session in part so recruits who may happen to be in town can come to practice — “you’re smart enough to figure out some of the reasons,” he said — but also added that he’s excited for fans to be back in the building at all, even if it’s just the 4,000 tickets that are being made available.

“It’s always great to get some people in Memorial Stadium to see us,” Frost said. “Think it’s a good change-up for us as a team to go out on Saturday instead of Friday morning. Anxious to have some people see what we’re doing. We’ll probably be a little bit vanilla on Saturday and not show a whole lot, but I think it will give some people a glimpse into what a whole practice looks like.” 

Nuts about offense: NU linebacker Garrett Nelson is always good for a soundbite. He’s also aware of how some soundbites can play in the Nebraska football fishbowl.

“Not to get that whole hype train barreling into a brick wall or anything,” Nelson said of NU’s offense this spring. “But the improvement’s there. It’s exciting to watch.”

Improvement is a theme every spring for every team, but Nelson said there’s tangible evidence Nebraska’s offense is taking a step forward. The unit is faster. Finishing blocks, an emphasis in spring workouts, has been much improved. That’s raised the level of the defense, too, as that side of the ball works to match their counterparts.

“It’s been a really good back and forth right now. Even today at practice, I thought the defense got the best of our run station and seven-on-seven and then the last two team (periods) the offense kind of answered,” NU coach Scott Frost said. “That’s what you like to see. You like to see if one group turns it up, that the other group tries to increase the intensity and effort and match it.”

Nelson was a little more, um, colorful in describing what Nebraska’s offense is doing in workouts.

“Wide receivers are running their (tails) off, tight ends are catching balls and blocking their (tails) off, O-line’s finishing blocks, it’s awesome to watch,” Nelson said. “It gets us better as players and as a defense.”

Taylor-Britt’s return (game): Junior defensive back Cam Taylor-Britt could have turned pro after his junior season, but said it was an easy decision to come back to Nebraska for 2021.

More on him in Wednesday’s Journal Star, but one interesting element on Monday: He said he plans to play on all of Nebraska’s special teams in addition to his responsibility as the team’s top corner.

Taylor-Britt showed himself to be a dangerous punt return man in 2020 and could be a factor on kickoffs, too, this fall, saying he will be part of that group in 2021.

“I don’t plan to come off the field, honestly. I plan to play all special teams,” he said, before suggesting even more creativity.  “Some offensive packages, we can throw that in there. I don’t plan to come off the field. I plan to give everything I have, everything, my all, to Nebraska.”

No vaccine plans for players yet: Frost said he had not heard anything from the Big Ten or from NU about systematic plans to make vaccination appointments for players.

Eligibility, of course, varies by location around the conference footprint.

“It’s just my opinion, but the kids on our team should probably be last in line for something like that just because of how young and healthy they are,” Frost said. “I’ll wait on more advice from our leadership here at the university and the athletic department and from the 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 want to make them mandatory, I don’t think that’s right, but hopefully we get an opportunity to get some of our guys vaccinated if they want to.” 

Line competition: After a strong finish to last season, Nebraska’s offensive line has carried the momentum into spring ball, left guard Ethan Piper said.

Piper, who started seven games last season, has been rotating with Broc Bando in workouts. Players are being tried at different positions as NU coaches see who can play where when called upon.

“This is spring ball. You’re fighting for your spot every day, and everybody’s going to get enough reps,” Piper said. “You’ve just got to come out and put some good stuff on film and see what the coaches decide from there.”

Title watch: Frost closed his Monday chat with reporters with kudos for Nebraska’s newly minted national championship bowling team and well wishes for the volleyball program as the NCAA Tournament begins this week in Omaha.

“Congratulations to (coach Paul Klempa) and the bowling team,” Frost said. “That’s exciting, and there’s nothing like winning a championship. We were all watching that and excited for those girls. Good luck to (volleyball coach John) Cook this week. We’ll be watching that and rooting them on.”

Parker Gabriel and Chris Basnett