The Nebraska football team practiced for a little over two hours on Wednesday morning in full pads inside the Hawks Championship Center.
Head Coach Scott Frost and Defensive Coordinator Erik Chinander each addressed the media after practice. Coach Frost spoke first, discussing the similarities between the UCF and Nebraska programs in year two.
“This is our second time as a staff trying to remold a program,” Frost said. “The first years were similar. We lost a bunch of close games. We did a lot of little things wrong that got ourselves beat. [We] had some issues, had some holes. I wouldn’t say it got better in our last job until the fall of year two. I see a similar track right now. I see vast improvement from one spring ball to the next, but we’re still not complete and have a ways to go. I’m thrilled with where we are now in the spring… we need that same kind of springboard improvement in fall camp.”
Frost went on to talk about the impact many of the early enrollees have made both on and off the field.
“I’ve got to give a compliment to all these early enrollees,” Frost said. “We’ve got a bunch of them here. Garrett Nelson, Nick Henrich, Jamie [Nance], Wan’Dale [Robinson] and all these guys that are here new, not only are they doing well on the football field, they’re doing well in school. They are good members of the team. They are around our office all the time because they love football. They’re the type of guys we want and if that’s any indication of the type of class we recruited, then I think we’re going to be really happy with last year’s signing class.”
Coach Frost and Coach Chinander each shared their thoughts on the impact of Darrion Daniels, a graduate transfer from Oklahoma State, and what he has brought to the table in spring practice.
“I tell you, Darrion is making plays on the field, but that’s not the most impressive part of Darrion,” Frost said. “It would be really hard for somebody to change teams coming into a new college program and be a leader immediately, but that’s what he’s done. He’s brought a spark to that D-line and I think a sense of accountability. He’s going to be a real asset for us, and I’m not just talking about on the field.”
Coach Chinander echoed Frost’s comments about Daniels.
“He’s done a great job of jumping right in,” Chinander said. “Obviously he’s played a lot of football. His ability to learn is pretty high, so the assignments and those types of things weren’t difficult for him to learn, and I think he’s done a good job of mastering his craft physically. Leadership-wise, I think he’s brought us a whole different perspective.”
Chinander went on to talk about the strides the defense has made in improving the speed in which it plays.
“It’s a couple different things,” Chinander said. “Number one, they know what [Coach Frost] wants for practice and what we all want for practice. They know the tempo, the drills, how to move in and out of things. And then they’ve also had a year in the system where now it’s not, ‘Oh man, what do I need to do on that call?’ They get the call, they play the call, and they’re playing the game within the game.”
Chinander also spoke about what he expects to see from the defense throughout the next two weeks of practice heading into the spring game.
“I just want to see some of these guys that we think are emerging to develop a little more and really grasp a hold of whatever their spot is,” he said. “We’ve only had one live practice. I want to see us tackle a little more. I thought we tackled well in the first scrimmage, but one time is not a big enough sample. I want to make sure we’re tackling the right way. I want to see us keep running to the ball, and I want to see how much we can push the installation.”
The Huskers will continue their spring season with an afternoon practice on Saturday. The annual Red-White Spring Game will be played on Saturday, April 13 at Memorial Stadium with kickoff set for 1 p.m. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.