After two seasons at UCF, Scott Frost decided to come home to Lincoln and take over at Nebraska. The former quarterback under legendary coach Tom Osborne went 18-7 with the Knights and guided the program to an American Athletic Conference title in 2017. Considering his familiarity with the program and track record at UCF, it won’t take Frost much time to generate improvement out of Nebraska’s roster. But Frost has a few key question marks to address on both sides of the ball this spring and is inheriting a program with two losing seasons in three years.
For every new coach, the to-do list after the initial press conference is pretty standard. The head coach has to recruit, implement scheme changes, build a staff of quality assistants and coordinators, discuss potential NFL Draft impact with juniors and work on any facility or support staff requests. Needless to say, that’s a lot.
While every coach has those goals in mind, it’s never too early to look at some of the personnel concerns surrounding a program and a new coach for the upcoming year.
Here’s an early look at three personnel question marks for Frost to address in 2018:
3 Priorities for New Nebraska Coach Scott Frost in 2018
1. Quarterback Play
Who will start for Frost in 2018? The first-year coach won’t be running the same offense as former coach Mike Riley. Tanner Lee threw for 3,143 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2016, and Patrick O’Brien completed 18 of 30 throws for 192 yards and one interception. Redshirt freshman Tristan Gebbia is also in the mix. All three quarterbacks are better fits for a pro-style offense. Could the Cornhuskers turn to a true freshman like Frost did with McKenzie Milton at UCF in 2016?
2. Ignite the Ground Game
Even though Frost’s offense at UCF relied heavily on its quarterback to make plays through the air, the Knights didn’t forget about the ground game. UCF finished 34th nationally in rush offense this year, averaging 201.2 yards a game. That’s a big leap from Nebraska’s 2016 total, which ranked 121st nationally at 107.5 rushing yards per game. Improving this total not only relies on the offensive line, but Frost and his staff have to get more out of the running backs or recruit a couple of speedy playmakers. Devine Ozigbo (493) and Mikale Wilbon (379) are the top returning rushers, and Tre Bryant returns after missing most of 2017 due to a knee injury. Sophomore Jaylin Bradley (93 yards) is also slated to return.
3. Get Tougher Against the Run on Defense
Defensive coordinator Erik Chinander followed Scott Frost from UCF to Nebraska. He’s no stranger to life in the Big Ten, as he played his college ball at Iowa from 1998-02. Chinander utilized a 3-4 scheme at UCF, which should help to minimize the overhaul after the Cornhuskers used a 3-4 approach under former coordinator Bob Diaco. While the transition isn’t going to be 100 percent smooth, Chinander has to find a way to put the pieces in place to get tougher against the run. Nebraska gave up 214.8 rushing yards a game last season and ranked last in the Big Ten in yards per carry allowed (5.6). The good news? Most of the front seven is slated to return intact. Linebackers Marcus Newby and Chris Weber expire their eligibility, but they were the only seniors in the two-deep from the finale against Iowa. Junior Dedrick Young (80 stops) is the top returning tackler, and freshman Ben Stille returns after recording 9.5 tackles for a loss in 2016.