Frost, Huskers shake up depth chart ahead of Wisconsin game

By  | 

LINCOLN, Neb. — On Monday, Scott Frost and the Huskers talked about what happened against Purdue and how things are changing with the upcoming game against Wisconsin.

The game in Wisconsin on Saturday is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff, and will be televised on BTN.

The Huskers also shook up the depth chart a bit on Monday, moving Devine Ozigbo to the top running back, Kade Warner to the top wide receiver, Boe Wilson to the starter at right guard and Tanner Farmer to the starting center, and Eric Lee to the top cornerback.

Frost also said Mick Stoltenberg won't be back "any time in the near future" due to injury, and Will Honas will miss the remainder of the season due to a knee injury, but he will be able to take a redshirt for this season and not lose a year of eligibility.

As far as Monday's practice, Frost said he saw a lot of energy and more energy than he's ever seen from some guys.

To see what Frost and the players had to say, you can click the links above.

The full transcript from Frost's press conference Monday is available below.

Head Coach Scott Frost
On what he’s learned in this experience that he hasn’t encountered before as a head coach
“I don’t know if I’ve encountered anything new. As a player a long time ago I learned perseverance and willingness to keep fighting no matter what. You go through hard times in life in a lot of different ways, and all that does is make it sweeter when it all turns out the right way. That happened to me as a player, and it will happen again as a coach.”

On if the lack of discipline seen on film was the same as he originally saw live on Saturday
“Absolutely, I saw a lot of selfish and undisciplined decisions and plays and it’s not everybody. Gosh, there’s so many guys that I’m proud to be coaching and happy for. We’ve got some warriors on the football team. Somebody told me, and I don’t look at stats, that we’re last in the country in penalty yardage so there you go. You can’t bust on things and not do your assignment. You can’t hit people four yards out of bounds. They seem to be happening at terrible times for us. You get an interception and you get a holding call, you get a drive going and get a personal foul, and you get a stop of third down and you get a penalty. I think the guys doing it right finally realized that if it’s going to get stopped they can’t allow it to exist. From that standpoint it’s been kind of a water shedding moment for us this last game, and I think it’s moving in the right direction to get changed.”

On the decision to keep junior defensive back Eric Lee Jr. at the top of the depth chart
“Well I told the guys that I’m going to ride with the guys that I know are going to do it the right way. There’s a lot of guys that we had to work with and help to understand how we want things done and what it takes to be that kind of person, that kind of good teammate. Eric [Lee Jr.] has figured it out, and I wouldn’t say that was the case at the beginning, but he’s done everything right this fall - everything right. We’re not giving up on anybody, but if there’s somebody that we trust to go out there and at least not get us beat, I’m going to let them go out there and have a chance to make a play.”

On the possibility of senior nose guard Mick Stoltenberg returning this season
“We’ll have to see on Mick [Stoltenberg.] Mick’s a warrior too and he’s going to battle. If he can be out there he will. It’s not going to be anytime in the near future, but we’d love to see an opportunity for him to play again.”

On the health of Tyrin Ferguson and J.D. Spielman
“Those guys were at practice, full go today.”

On the health of junior linebacker Will Honas
“I think Will [Honas] is going to have to have surgery that’s going to be season ending. It’s heartbreaking for him. He’s one of the guys that cares and works his butt off and the type of teammate you want on your team. That’s football and those things happen, but you just hate to see it to happen to anybody that’s a good kid on any team at any time.”

On the injury Will Honas suffered
Will had ligament damage to his knee.”

On if the four-game redshirt rule is beneficial in a situation like Will Honas’
“Yeah, that’s where that rule is good. There’s a chance you would’ve been able to get a medical down the road, but that certainly cleans it up for us.”

On if anyone has indicated they are leaving the team
“No. I haven’t gotten a hint of that. The guys doing it the right way, and that’s the majority of the team, they’re playing with their brother, they’re where they want to be, and they’re intent on getting this thing right. I see it out of them and really appreciate what they’re doing. People can read into a lot of stuff, but these guys are fighting and we’re going to keep fighting.”

On if it’s encouraging that there has been no indication of anyone wanting to leave
“Oh yeah. You know everybody’s in the boat, everybody’s working. This thing is going to get right, it’s just not happening as quick as they want it to and certainly not as quick as I want it to. They know we are doing the right things to move in that direction, I know it. Sometimes when you’re building a new house you can’t build it on a bad foundation or you won’t have a house very long. We had some rot and some termites and we still do, and we have to get all of that cleaned out. You can’t build a structure on a foundation that’s not solid. You’d like to get that foundation built quickly and we are working on getting it built as quickly as we can, but there’s still work to be done there. We certainly aren’t going to be ready to finish the house and put a penthouse in until that’s all done.”

On getting the team's attention at practice Monday
“I talked to them. When we do our warmup drills we make every skill guy carry the ball. We make them carry a ball while they’re doing active stretch and we try to strip it out as coaches every day. There was one day earlier this fall where we got 17 balls out. So they were working on it, but I don’t know how diligently they were working on it until turnovers cost them two games and then all of a sudden they realized that maybe this is important. It didn’t matter what we told them because we tried. Sometimes you've got to get hit in the face to understand something. Defensively we do turnover drills every day at the beginning of practice, one of them is tip drill. Somebody tips the ball you go up and full speed high point it make sure you’re the first man to the ball. It’s been OK, but it hasn’t been guys practicing diligently with the intent of it ever comes up I’m going to make this play. Sure enough, the play shows up in the game. It happens the ball is up in the air if we go get it it’s probably 14-7 us, we don’t get it it's 14-7 them. I think finally they realize we better not just be doing this, but doing this with the intent of being great at it. It hasn’t mattered how much I’ve tried to tell them or how much coaches have tried to tell them. A lot of you guys probably have teenagers and kids, sometimes you can tell them all you want, but until they experience it, it doesn’t get changed. I can see a change now. I saw some guys practicing hard today that I haven’t ever seen practice with that kind of energy. Sometimes you've got to go through those moments, but I’m hoping that the beginning of this season is a turning point for this football team.”

On if senior running back Devine Ozigbo can be a feature back
“I don’t think it’s ideal to be rolling guys in and out all the time because nobody can get a rhythm. Devine [Ozigbo] played all game because he practiced the best. We had one guy that was out all week sick, another guy that didn’t have a great week of practice and now those two guys had their best practice I’ve ever seen them have today. I trust Devine at this point, and Devine is one of the guys that is going to battle every time he’s out there, so we need him to keep it up and we need some guys to follow suit.”

On what Devine Ozigbo has done to earn his spot on the depth chart
“I think Devine [Ozigbo] is a step faster than he was when we got here. I think he’s stronger, I think he’s in better shape. Go back to what I said at the beginning of the season, a lot of credit for that goes to Zach Duval [Strength and Conditioning Coach] and the changes he’s made with the team in that room. Devine is certainly one that has made huge strides, and he played like a guy that can be a feature back on Saturday.”

On what he saw from Tanner Farmer at center and Boe Wilson at guard and how that will change going into this week at Wisconsin
“Well whoever is playing center has their hands full. They’ve got a nose guard that is a grown man and we’ll see, hopefully Cole [Conrad] will be ready to go, but it’s good to know that there’s a guy that can come in and get the job done at that spot. Boe Wilson is a fighter, he’s going to give us everything he has, so we feel good about having him in the game and starting to develop depth like that and guys that can rotate in at certain positions is a good thing.”

On Wisconsin
“They are just a really well-coached team. They never beat themselves, which has been the polar opposite of what we’ve been. You don’t see them make any kind of mistakes that will get them beat. They’re solid at every position, obviously good on the front lines on both sides. Defensively they’ve got two really good inside backers that make plays everywhere. These games can be frustrating sometimes for teams like ours because if you can’t stop them you can go eight minutes of clock time and 30 minutes of real time without your offense being on the field. That’s a big challenge for the defense to try and get us the ball back. When I’m watching tape of teams playing them, usually you watch an opponent play a team you’re getting ready for, there’s 85-90 plays most teams are getting 55 or 60 against Wisconsin because of how good of a job they do managing the clock. I think Paul [Chryst] is a good coach, good man, and he’s got his program where he wants it, and we are ready to go up and give him a battle.”

On if Wisconsin now is what Nebraska used to be
“I don’t know if they’re what Nebraska used to be. I don’t want to get into that. I know they’re a good program. I think there’s probably some similarities, but that was a long time ago, Paul [Chryst] wasn’t there. This is his program and he’s done a great job with it. They’re at the top of our half of this league right now and that’s the team that we need to catch and we will.”

On developing J.D. Spielman and how important the wide receiver position is in college football
“It’s really important for us to continue to develop guys that can be weapons for us. When this offense works the best is when we have five skill guys on the field anytime that can make a big play. Until we get there we’re going to have to move guys, Stan [Stanley Morgan Jr.] and J.D. [Spielman] around and try to get them in the spot where we can use them. But you can only ride that horse so long, those guys get tired too. We need to continue to develop that position. It was a good start today. I talked about a couple guys practicing better than I’ve ever seen them today, and a couple of those guys were receivers. But I asked them after practice, what took you so long to practice like that? Because that’s what it takes. I think some of them are finally getting it, so hopefully we are taking more steps in the right direction. I’ve said all along if we are getting better day by day, inevitably you’re going to end up where you want and we got better today.”

On which receivers practiced well today
“I don’t want to get into talking about individuals too much. I saw some guys practicing in a way that I know is good enough to win us football games.”

On the perimeter blocking and how it has improved
“Listen, you want to see a mark of a good team, find a team where wide receivers block well, because then four-yard gains turn into eight and eight-yard gains turn into 40. If you can throw bubble screens and things to perimeter and make people chase it, you’re wearing a team down. Marks of great teams are great special teams play and perimeter blocking. We’re not there yet, but we took a step in the right direction Saturday.”

On what he’s seen from Kade Warner and how he’s moved up the depth chart
“Kade’s a good teammate. He plays as hard as he can and he’s where he’s supposed to be. Some of the changes that you guys are seeing now kind of started last week. We’re going to play the guys we can rely on, maybe even if they’re not as talented as somebody else. If they’re a guy we can trust to do the right thing those guys belong on the field. The leaders of the team are ready for that now too because they see what’s gotten them beat three times is bad decisions, being in the wrong spot, bad assignments, penalties, I think the team’s fed up with it.”

On whether there’s a weight on the team from having no wins so far
“I think this thing could have looked totally different this year if we had caught some breaks and got a couple early. I remember saying back then, this team is better. This team is better than it has been, we’re better than we were against Michigan, we’re better than we were in spring. I feel like we’re light years from where we were in January. But in order to really believe it and start to take the field in a way that you expect to win, you have to experience some success. It hurts for me, particularly the seniors, that to date they haven’t gotten to experience that. When it does come I’m going to be really happy for them.”

On how important it’s going to be to keep Wisconsin from getting a big run early on
“Big run any time. We have to do a good job on defense. These guys are going to grind it out, this is a tough-guy game when you play a team like this. We certainly didn’t start out very well in Ann Arbor with a big run early. A lot of times guys aren’t in the right spots. Sometimes guys are there and not quite there quick enough or enough bad intentions to get a play made. We’re going to do everything we can to get their mind right so we can get some stops. If you can keep this team from controlling the clock and grinding out long drives you have a chance.”

On Wisconsin’s inside linebackers and whether they are as good a group of linebackers as Nebraska will face this year
“I think so. Michigan’s were awfully good. The Bush kid (Michigan linebacker Devin Bush) was everywhere. We had a few screens set up that should have worked and he just beat us to the spot. We didn’t block him very well. Again, the best attribute of this team we’re playing is they never beat themselves. They’re where they’re supposed to be, they’re sound, and on top of that they have some good players. We have our work cut out for us, but I like where we started this week.”

On whether there is one thing in particular to work on to improve offensive third-down conversions
“I need to do a better job and the coaching staff needs to do a better job of scheming those downs, particularly the short-yardage ones. I watched a team today at practice that in my mind finally did things well enough, crisp enough, with enough energy and attention to detail to make them work in games. You want to know when that detail really matters, even more than the rest of the game, is in the red zone and on third down or fourth down. That’s when you’re going to get zero blitz, that’s when you get a lot of guys in the box and it’s a fine line, no matter what you run, between making it work and not making it work. I saw guys practicing with the type of attention to the execution today to actually give us a chance to make those work, and we’ll continue to try to put them in the best plays we can on those plays.”

On how players that didn’t practice well last week responded to not playing as much
“Several of those guys that practiced well today are some of the guys that didn’t get in the game as much Saturday. It’s way too late to have it happening but I’m glad it’s happening. I had four captains come into my office yesterday on their day off to talk about what needed to be done to get it fixed. I think the guys get it, and that’s all part of building the foundation I talked about. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much the coach says it, if it doesn’t come from in the locker room there’s not a lot of power to it. Now we have leaders that are excited to get some of these things changed and fixed. It’s still not going to get fixed overnight but I think we have guys that are going to hold other people accountable to make sure the right things are happening.”