Red Report: Frost, Huskers react to increased spectators at games; talkin’ QBs; the plan for Toure

More than 72,000 fans showed up under cloudy skies, persistent wind, yet comfortable temperatures for the 2016 Spring Game.

CHRIS BASNETT Lincoln Journal Star

The Nebraska baseball team got a taste of it over the weekend, and now the Husker football squad is ready for fans to return to Memorial Stadium as well.

NU will see fans at the May 1 spring game, and the Huskers are more than ready for that day to arrive.

“I just miss the fans. Going through that year with no fans was rough — that’s part of what makes Nebraska special, is people filling Memorial Stadium and the Sea of Red,” Nebraska coach Scott Frost said Monday. “And I’m sure as many fans as we can have in the spring game, they’ll be there, and really got our fingers crossed that come September we’ll have some home games and we’ll be able to see a full stadium.”

Memorial Stadium won’t be full on May 1, but capacity will be at least 50% with a chance to go as high as 75%. Tickets will go on sale to season-ticket holders on April 1 at 10 a.m. At least 7,500 tickets are being held for the general public, and those go on sale April 2 at 10 a.m. 

“I’m excited. I do believe that should be a local decision. We’re kind of past the point where we need to keep it all the same,” Frost said. “Everybody’s struggling, and athletic departments need revenue, and fans are hungry to see spring games and actual competition, so I’m glad they made the decision they did.”

Frost isn’t the only one curious to see what Memorial Stadium will look like with red-clad patrons.

“I’m very anxious to get a feel of what Memorial Stadium is like with fans again, because they really are another teammate for us out there when it comes to home games and whatnot,” tight end Austin Allen said. “Fans are what make college football great, and Nebraska has one of the best fan bases in college football. So I’m eager to get them back, and I’m sure they’re eager to come and enjoy football games again here in the state.”

Quarterback talk: Frost said he wants (and expects) incumbent starting quarterback Adrian Martinez to take a step forward this season. 

He’s also curious to see what his young guys look like.

Both Logan Smothers and Heinrich Haarberg will get plenty of reps this spring, Frost said, as the two jockey for position as Nebraska’s No. 2 quarterback behind No. 2. Haarberg was an early enrollee, joining the team in January, while Smothers didn’t get a chance to go through spring ball last season after the coronavirus pandemic derailed those plans.

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“Smothers and Haarberg are both going to get plenty of opportunities this spring to show us what they can do, (Matt) Masker, as well,” Frost said. “We get a lot of reps in spring ball, so those guys are going to get a ton of opportunity, and looking forward to seeing those guys develop too.”

Toure in the slot: An intriguing sublot to Nebraska’s offensive construction emerged Monday when Frost revealed that transfer receiver Samori Toure will work out of the slot during spring workouts.

The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Toure would provide NU with a big body at a spot often reserved for more diminutive targets.

“He can do a lot of different things… Can go up and attack a ball in the air — 50-50 balls aren’t 50-50 with him. He goes up and gets them. And then he’s a good route runner. Very polished,” NU offensive coordinator Matt Lubick said Monday. “The thing about our slot, he can play outside and also play inside. And to do that you’ve got to be able to mentally handle that.

“And that’s sometimes hard for a first-year guy, but he’s picked up really well.”

As a junior at Montana in 2019, Toure led the Big Sky Conference and was second in the FCS with a school-record 1,495 receiving yards on 87 receptions.