Things I know, and things I think I know:
Trev Alberts isn’t a big win-the-offseason guy.
He knows it doesn’t count for much.
“We’ve done a lot of winning in the offseason around here,” he says.
Many Nebraska football fans have grown tired of offseason hyperbole preceding autumn frustration. The phenomenon became acutely noticeable to me during Mike Riley’s tenure as coach (2015 to 2017).
Even so, Alberts, the first-year Nebraska athletic director, is OK with sharing some of his early impressions of current Husker coach Scott Frost’s revamped offensive staff as it gears for Monday’s start of the spring practice season.
“I will say I just walked down to Scott’s office today (Friday), and he’s thinking about different things — which I think is really good,” Alberts told the Journal Star. “When you’ve got Mickey Joseph and Whip (new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple), there’s a lot of thinking that’s being challenged.”
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I’m told new Nebraska offensive line coach Donovan Raiola brings much different teaching methods to the table than his predecessor. Safe to say it’ll be a more physical spring for the O-line compared to recent years. Perhaps new Husker running backs coach Bryan Applewhite will light a fire at his position. Time will tell.
Joseph, the first-year passing game coordinator/wide receivers coach, already has captivated much of Nebraska’s fan base with his personality and energy in recruiting. Meanwhile, it’s become clear that Frost has entrusted the 64-year-old Whipple with the offense — much of it, anyway — as Frost transitions into more of a CEO role.
How much will Frost be involved in the offense? That’s one of the intriguing elements to gauge going forward.
“I’ve been very impressed with these coaches,” Alberts said. “They have a presence about them, and it’s not an ego or arrogance. But, I mean, a lot of them have been in a lot of situations and seen a lot of things. You can kind of even sense it with the players they ‘ve brought in. I’ve had a chance to interact with (transfer quarterback) Casey Thompson.
“This is, I would say, one of the most important springs we’ve ever had in Nebraska football.”
Why does he feel that way?
“You just have so many new faces,” Alberts said. “You’ve got new coaches. How is it all going to work? What does the structure look like? You can get a lot of really good work done in the spring. I just see a commitment and a work ethic. And generally, while they’re all subjective (observations) — superlatives or whatever — you tend to win more than you lose if you’re doing them right.”
Frost probably is going to have to win more games than he loses in 2022 to get to 2023. No reason to go too deep into that conversation at this point.
That said, emergency alone makes this spring interesting.
Nebraska, 15-29 since 2018 under Frost, has plenty of ground to cover, and time is indeed of the essence when you’re installing a new offense.
The spring game is set for April 9.
Yes, it all feels pretty important.
* You know who else wasn’t a big win-the-offseason guy? Former Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, who preceded Riley, always felt that the offseason around here felt ridiculous in terms of the amount of media coverage. It’s a unique market, for sure.
* I tend to think of Nebraska’s upcoming spring season as one of the most interesting spring seasons the media won’t see (except, of course, for the spring game). Frost typically is stingy as far as how much of practice he allows media to witness first-hand. Because of the massive changes on offense, I’m guessing he’ll be even more frugal in that regard. He’ll likely allow media to watch some stretching and a few drills and probably not much else. No complaints here. If I were a head coach of a program that’s covered as extensively as NU’s, I would operate the same way.
* Don’t worry, though, there’ll be plenty of interviews in coming weeks. In fact, all of the Nebraska coaches and several players will meet with media Monday.
* Don’t forget about fifth-year Nebraska defensive coordinator Erik Chinander. He has plenty of work to do on his side of the ball considering he loses six of his top 10 tacklers from last season.
What does he want his unit to accomplish by the time the spring season is complete?
“I want to get a better idea of personnel,” he told the Journal Star. “I want to at least know who’s in contention in those battles (for starting jobs) going into fall camp in August.”
His follow-up answer provides insight into the high level of intensity that accompanies spring ball.
“Coming out of spring, I want this defense to be leading the country in effort,” he said. “There’s always the old test: Your value on defense to our team is directly correlated with your distance from the football at the end of a play.”
That’s a good way to look at it. The film doesn’t lie. usually.
* Bowling typically makes for excellent TV because events are held in such a tight space.
Kudos to Paul Klempa and his top-ranked Nebraska women’s team for capturing the Big Red Invitational Sunday at Hollywood Bowl, and BTN also deserves a high-five for a high-grade broadcast.
Klempa had a distinct feel of relief in his post-match interview. Those bright lights produce some pressure.