LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) -- The Huskers got a taste of Big 10 official calls at Friday morning's practice, after which Nebraska Football Coach Scott Frost announced that a senior offensive lineman is out for the season.
Huskers Football Head Coach Scott Frost talks to media following the team's practice on Friday, Aug. 16, 2019. (WOWT)
At this morning's press update following practice, Frost said Offensive Lineman Christian Gaylord had a knee injury that will keep him out for the year.
"We obviously never want that to happen to anybody and feel for Christian, but we’ve got some other guys doing good things, too, and those guys are just going to have to step up and be ready," Frost said.
To play it safe, the Huskers held back about a dozen players from reps today, he said.
"Ten or 12 some of our best guys didn’t take reps; a bunch more took limited reps," he said. "We held a lot of guys out today just because of little injuries and making sure we keep guys healthy."
That gave the younger players a chance to scrimmage, and Frost said those players are looking a lot better than last year.
"The progress we’ve made is great — and I keep talking about (how) everybody’s better — it’s great, but we have to keep going," he said. "We had a long way to go to catch some of the teams in our league. We’re definitely better, but we can't stop here."
Frost said he plans to continue with practices as-is for about three or four more days before turning the team's attention to their first game, coming up at 11 a.m. Aug. 31 — at home — against South Alabama.
Frost on special teams
Frost said he's also feeling good about the team's kickers and punters.
"We kind of have a battle going on at punter between two guys. They both looked good today, so we’ll let them keep battling it out," he said.
With "more athletes on the field this year," Frost said he wants to zero in on helping the defense ensure special teams can succeed.
"We need them to cover kicks and block for them. And I think we've got a lot more guys for that this year," he said.
Coaches have also been working with special teams to improve offensive field positions.
"Defensively, coming up with a few more 3-and-outs on quick stops is gonna help us, turnovers are gonna help us," he said. "So I want to be a much better team from a field-position standpoint this year."
Coach Frost called Friday's practice a "situational scrimmage" to help the players learn to react under different game scenarios, like having one side fighting against their opponent trying to let the clock run down; another with two timeouts left for the opponent; and another getting the offense out of bounds as much as possible.
Frost on Big Ten officials at practice
Having official Big Ten referees calling the scrimmage was a big advantage for the team and will give them some great film to review, he said.
Typically, officials that ref for high school or small college games are on hand at Husker football practices, but having the Big Ten crew "gives a real idea of how things are going to be called," Frost said.
Those refs called a lot of penalties, he said, "so we have a lot to clean up as a team.
"Some of the little things that you kind of gloss over in practice are going to get called by a Big Ten crew, so it’s going to be good film for us to watch and make sure we’re detailing out technique and make sure those things don’t happen," he said.
Frost on the walk-on program
Calling out a handful of names, Coach Frost said he's pleased with the promise he's starting to see with the walk-on program.
While he said he didn't want to leave anyone out, Coach Frost mentioned Trent Hixson of Omaha, Wyatt Mazour of Albion, and Luke Reimer of Lincoln as a few of several walk-on players from around the state who have caught the staff's attention.
"We’re starting to not just get depth from the walk-on program. We’re starting to be able to identify some guys that can be guys to help us win games and potentially be starters for us," he said. "That’s the way Nebraska was when I was here and we want it to be that way again."
Coach Frost said this year's freshman class has really impressed him. He said the coaches were able to identify not just the sorts of players they wanted, but also focus on getting the right people for the team.
"We'll be a complete team when we have four or five classes like that on our football team and a lot of competition," he said. "But this young group has come in, learned really fast, adopted our culture really fast, they're good teammates, and there are some really talented kids in that group. So I think that's going to help our infusion of talent."
Frost on his quarterback stack
"There's several that are going to be household names in Nebraska someday," Frost said. "Our back up quarterbacks are playing really well right now."
On the roster as QBs behind sophomore Adrian Martinez of Fresno, Calif., is junior Andrew Bunch of Thompson Station, Tenn.; red-shirt freshman Matt Masker of Kearney; freshman Brayden Miller of Kearney; freshman Luke McCaffrey of Highlands Ranch, Colo.; and sophomore Noah Vedral of Wahoo.
Frost said Martinez had limited practice today, working on situational plays in the "red zone" and in some two- and four-minute scenarios as well as a series where he was backed up against his own end zone.
Asked about McCaffrey, Frost said he is showing promise.
"I think he’s faster than I expected him to be, and he throws it really well," he said.
Frost said the freshman seems to have the knack for making plays with his feet or with his arm when things break down.
"(He has) a little bit of the magic that we want our quarterbacks to have so that something can be created even when nothing’s there," Frost said.