Heading into spring football, Nebraska fans were excited to get some answers to major questions surrounding Scott Frost’s third year. And then most of it was unceremoniously canceled.
As a result, not only were there no practice reports or a Red-White Spring Game played out in real life, but no talking points to take into an abruptly extended offseason. Despite this, we can still predict some possible outcomes that would be generating discussion well into the summer months.
1. A quarterback controversy
Let’s approach this with some honesty. Adrian Martinez has been Frost’s main guy at quarterback for quite some time. You don’t make cross-country trips to recruit a prospect unless you’re in love with him. That being said, what’s the harm in a back-and-forth with Luke McCaffrey, for example?
This isn’t something that would need to bleed long into fall camp. Maybe a week or two at the absolute most. Consider the incentive it would give Martinez to be at his absolute best all the time, though. Every day whether he’s studying the playbook, conditioning or keeping track of calories, he has to be at the top of his game… or else.
Yes, there is mental stress that goes with such a battle. But there’s an argument to be made that Frost only benefits from seeing if his No. 1 signal-caller can unquestionably remain at the top of the depth chart in his head leading up to the season opener.
If that’s the case, Nebraska’s head coach is only further justified in his choice as Martinez as the man. If not, he does have the talent to address such a problem. See: McCaffrey and Logan Smothers. These two quarterbacks could quite possibly be the future of the program anyway.
2. The “next big thing”
Who doesn’t like to be at the head of a successful bandwagon? The fans who want to be able to proclaim they were the initial ones to back Nebraska’s next 1,000-yard rusher or demonic defender are plentiful. And there’s no time better to scout for such talent than during spring.
The number of early enrollees the Huskers benefited from this past recruiting cycle would’ve only stoked such a fire.
Perhaps Alante Brown looks the part of a potential starter that could take the place of JD Spielman, if he doesn’t return. Blaise Gunnerson could already show signs of being the imposing Big Ten-caliber force defensive coordinator Erik Chinander needs at outside linebacker. Cornerback Jaiden Francois might shine as Travis Fisher’s latest and greatest project.
If only those practices would’ve gone on as planned.
3. The “spring superhero”
There’s always a standout in March and April that makes his presence known. Recent years have seen names like Jaylin Bradley, Brody Belt, Mikale Wilbon, and Wyatt Mazour come to the forefront.
Of those, only Mazour has really translated to making an impact during fall, though. Unlike the “next big thing,” the odds are quite a bit longer that the “spring superhero” will retain any dominance once the newest batch of teammates arrives on campus (presumably) this summer. Still, there are plenty of people who love to take a flier on the occasional long shot.
4. The Matt Lubick experience
Troy Walters’ contributions to Nebraska football were somewhat difficult to quantify. However, a changing of the guard at the offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach position signals that they weren’t significant enough. That’s not much of a shock when you have a head coach that not only likes his offense to function in specific ways but also calls the plays come Saturday.
But with the few scholarship wide receivers the Huskers currently have available, it’s hard to not be curious about what production Lubick might get out of them. Would their routes be crisper or blocking be more efficient? On a grander scale, how big of an impact would his coaching have for Frost in terms of confidence in calling a wider range of plays?
To be fair, 15 practices wouldn’t have given us a tremendous amount to analyze. But it would’ve shown us a taste of what those in Lincoln could expect in August and beyond.
5. Setting a bar for the Blackshirts
Nebraska fans don’t rightly know what to expect from Chinander in his third year as the Huskers’ defensive coordinator. It would be a plus to know what realistic expectations should be heading further into offseason development.
Yes, the entire defensive line has to be replaced but is this group generating any kind of pass rush? Is a linebacker group that struggled mightily at times in 2019 forming a bond thanks to the work of Barrett Ruud and Mike Dawson? Do Fisher’s defensive backs already look like they can carry some of the burden for at least a few games?
These are all tremendously valid questions that would’ve been fantastic to have an answer to. For now, they all must remain in limbo until fall at the very least.