Nebraska held a scrimmage on Oct. 10 in an empty Memorial Stadium. That scrimmage marked two weeks before the season's start and for players, another chance to crack the starting lineup.
And while, according to Frost, the offense moved the ball well, he will still not give a public answer to one of the most pressing questions on Husker fans’ minds: who will Nebraska’s starting quarterback be on Oct. 24 against Ohio State?
“I wouldn’t say it’s clear yet,” Frost said in a press conference on Tuesday. “We got two guys at the top of that heap who are playing well enough to win both games.”
The battle between redshirt freshman Luke McCaffrey and junior Adrian Martinez is one that will most likely define the season. Frost said that he prefers to have one starting quarterback entering the season, and plans to stick by him.
“Right now, our offense moves exceptionally when [Luke]’s playing quarterback,” Frost said. “If he’s one of the best players to have on the field and he’s not the quarterback, we’ll certainly look for opportunities to make sure our best players are out there.”
Earlier in the press conference, Frost said that McCaffrey was a quarterback first, but his athleticism can allow him to line up at multiple positions on the offense. One of those positions is wide receiver, a position group that Husker coaches and fans hope will have a breakout year in 2020. However, the group has been dealing with injuries for a majority of fall camp.
Junior Omar Manning, the coveted junior college transfer, is one receiver that has dealt with nagging injuries. That has limited his time on the field in practice and could be one reason why rumors of a transfer started.
Those rumors have been proven false and he’s still excelled in his limited time during practice.
“When Omar’s been out there, he’s looked really good,” Frost said. “We need him out there more consistently if he’s going to help us in a way we expect him to and hope that he will.”
Manning, freshman Alante Brown and sophomore Wan’Dale Robinson have all dealt with injuries that have limited their availability in fall camp. Frost said that he hopes his team’s overall health can be sorted out quickly, ideally before the Ohio State game 11 days from now..
One receiver who faced injuries last season was junior Kade Warner, though since then he has recovered and is expected to perform well in an expanded role. Warner is one of Nebraska’s receivers that has impressed both his teammates and coaches.
Warner has stepped up as a leader and that’s been felt throughout the team. Last week, Martinez praised Warner for his leadership of the receiving group and more came this week from senior tight end Austin Allen.
“His leadership is unmatched in the receiving corps,” Allen said in the press conference. “I live with him and he has guys over for every Monday Night Football, Thursday Night Football. He just says let’s watch some Monday night and Thursday night football and we’ll have a whiteboard in the living room. He’ll say let me talk you through that defense.”
Unlike Nebraska’s wide receiver group, Nebraska’s safeties are a group that battled injury last season but are healthier entering 2020. Senior safety Marquel Dismuke battled a neck injury during the 2019 season and played through it.
Dismuke and senior safety Deontai Williams, another safety that suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in 2019, return to the defensive rotation. Dismuke is excited for not only himself, but the rest of his position unit, to be healthy and have a breakout campaign.
“The more time you get on the field, the more you get comfortable,” Dismuke said in the press conference. “Building your IQ each game and knowing the game speed and knowing what to expect...I just feel this year is going to be my breakout year.”
The safeties return healthy, but the Nebraska cornerback group suffered a significant setback last week with the loss of sophomore starting cornerback Braxton Clark. He’s out for the season with a shoulder injury. Junior Cam Taylor-Britt is expected to step into his starting spot.
Taylor-Britt, an extremely versatile defender, played everywhere in the secondary last season and can finally settle down at one spot this season.
“Corner. I like it. I’ve gotten very comfortable at the position just trying different techniques and things to help my game out,” Taylor-Britt said in the press conference. “The way people come off the ball, it’s different just because I’m now a starting corner.”
The move to corner for Taylor-Britt is one way of many ways that Frost and his staff have been adapting on the fly in this unique offseason. As Frost said, the preparation for this season is on a fast track but that they still needed to get as many live hits as their players could get.
And above all, as Frost has said so many times through fall camp, he’s just excited to provide his team with the opportunity to play football.
“Playing football this year was the right thing to do and I hope our kids take advantage of the opportunity,” Frost said.