After an intense recruiting season came to a close on Wednesday, Husker football coaches spread out across the state to visit with fans about the new commits to the program and what year one holds under newly hired coach and former Husker quarterback Scott Frost.
One of those stops was Thursday night at Table Creek Golf Course, where Quarterback Coach Mario Verduzco and Senior Offensive Analyst Frank Verducci met with fans and gave a program detailing the background of each member of Nebraska’s signing class.
The key points of the program were well received by a near-capacity audience at Table Creek with coaches talking about the importance of bringing back a strong and physical running game and re-charging traditions like the storied Blackshirt defense and the walk-on program.
Before the program got going, each of the coaches spoke with the News-Press about various topics.
The Husker quarterback coach talked about the signal callers the Huskers will have this year, the manner in which the Huskers will play and the impressive way that Husker fans turned out to sell out the spring game.
On the QB room:
The Huskers have several quarterbacks on the roster. Tristan Gebbia, a redshirt freshman; Patrick O'Brien, a redshirt sophomore; and Andrew Bunch, a junior, were all recruited by the previous staff. They’ll be joined by newly recruited Adrian Martinez and University of Central Florida transfer Noah Vedral, a Wahoo High School graduate.
Although ineligible for the 2018 season, Coach Verduzco said Vedral will be a major asset to the quarterback room because he’s armed with details of the Frost offense and can help make the transition period easier for all concerned.
Overall, Coach Verduzco said he was excited about the youth of the quarterback room, said it compared well with what the coaching staff had at UCF and noted that he felt the quarterbacks were all excited to get going. The first task for the quarterbacks will be to learn the new offensive playbook. From there, it’s on to winter conditioning, the spring game and getting ready to win games in the fall.
When describing the ideal quarterback for the Frost system, Verduzco said the signal caller would be athletic and able to make all types of throws. And they have to be what the coaches call, “quick blinkers.”
“They’ve got to be able to process a boat-load of information very quickly,” said Verduzco.
On the Auburn model:
Despite playing up against a power five school, the University of Central Florida did anything but back down against Auburn in the Peach Bowl. They definitely stepped up. And that fearless quality is something that Coach Verduzco said will be part of the plan at Nebraska.
“That’s how Coach Frost wants us to play, to play fearless, to have some fun, no holds barred and let’s go,” said Verduzco. “That’s exactly what we want to do here at Nebraska.”
On the Husker culture:
When reviewing what the Huskers have now, what they need and how the program needs to be shaped going forward, Coach Verduzco said Coach Frost is the perfect guy for the job.
“Who better to understand those things that are missing than a Nebraska guy like Scott Frost,” he said.
And the transition can happen fast. It did at UCF where the Knights went from winless to unbeaten in two years.
“His (Frost’s) leadership got that culture turned around,” said Verduzco. “I expect that our experience here will be very similar to UCF.”
On the spring game:
“If there was any debate over who has the best fans in the country—I think that argument got settled yesterday with selling out the spring game. That’s just tremendous,” said Verduzco.
Looking forward to that day in April, Verduzco said the spring game will be an opportunity for the coaches to see where the team is at and what the players and coaches need to work on so that the program can win games this fall.
The Huskers’ senior offensive analyst talked about his role on the staff, the benefits of getting the walk on program humming once again, and the unique nature of Frost’s return to his alma mater.
On the analyst job:
Coach Verducci said the analyst position is one that is different depending on the program. The Husker version will have Verducci working behind the scenes, looking at future foes and examining the tendencies of the Husker strategies. Overall, he’ll worked hand-in-glove with all the other coaches to give them an extra set of eyes and will be ready to fill in and help out whenever needed.
What will make this an easier transition for the Huskers, Coach Verducci said, is the fact that all of the UCF coaches followed Frost to Nebraska. Instead of learning about each other, the coaches will focus on building relationships with players.
“The whole staff is here, so everybody knows their roles,” said Verducci.
Each coach also knows what the other coach is thinking. Verducci gave an example that the quarterback coach knows what the defensive line is looking for when assessing players. That makes for easy communication between all the coaches.
On the walk-on program:
The Huskers new coaches and the athletic administration is working to expand the Husker roster to bring in walk on players. That could make for some crowded practices. Coach Verducci said the coaches are not worried about the complications a larger roster might cause.
“There is a way that we practice and once a team gets acclimated to that—it runs itself,” said Verducci. “They fall into a routine.”
What’s the advantage of walk ons?
Coach Verducci said there are a number of advantages. Players are constantly fresh, meaning the quality of practice is high and fatigued players aren’t getting injured. Secondly, by getting everybody involved, the development of players speeds up considerably.
On things falling into place:
Coach Verducci said the Huskers are in a unique position with Coach Frost. Verducci said the Huskers have an athletic director who understands football, a head coach who was an alumnus at UNL and who comes in as an almost unanimous fan selection, a completely intact staff making the transition, and coaches among that staff who are also former Huskers.
“I’ve coached a long time—over 35 years,” said Verducci. “I have never seen the stars align like this. It’s understandable why everybody, including the staff, would be so excited about getting this thing going.”