Trev will be right no matter what, and should location play a part in what scheme you run?

Trev Alberts handled last week about as good as anyone who isn’t sure on their head coach could. I believe that Trev Alberts is in the same spot I am… The results so far show that Frost isn’t going to get it done, but I need to be 100% certain that is the case if i’m going to make the decision to fire someone that brought a national championship to Nebraska as a player.

Alberts can make this be the right decision no matter what after 2022. While our hole will be dug even deeper than it is now if we can’t get things done in 2022 due to the fact we will have another awful recruiting class and that will be our 6th straight season that we don’t make a bowl, it will have the AD in a spot where he can not only look like he cared to the fans, but other HC candidates. You see, if it doesn’t work out, Alberts can just say “I was not going to put the state of Nebraska in another spot where we have to pay 20+ million to a coach and get rid of them again. To restructure the contract it required another year.” People will understand that, even though we have a couple boosters right now that would sign the check no questions asked. But the opposite can be true as well, and let’s be honest, it’s what Nebraska should hope for if we don’t want to take forever to get where we want to be. If Frost goes 7-5 or better next year, Alberts can say “this is what I thought was possible and that’s why I wanted to stick with our guy.” Basically not cutting bait too quickly with the head coach and avoiding a buyout.

But there were deals that needed to be brokered in an effort to get this done. First, Alberts had actually talked with Frost about some of this stuff during the first bye week. While we still had a chance at a bowl, Frost was already thinking he needed to make at least two changes. We talked before about how if I were AD I would say “what do you think” to Frost and let him talk, let him tell you his thoughts. If he says “we are staying the course” that would be an issue. If he listed some things they needed to do differently, that at least tells you he’s taking self inventory of what’s going wrong. The second bye week comes around and from what i’ve heard, his hand was forced on at least one other departure, but that’s neither here nor there. They made the decision before they went out on the road to solidify that our coach was going to be back.

The biggest problem is getting assistants to come here. As I said on twitter, all of you that said “no coach will want to come here if we fire Frost”, well, it will actually be harder to get assistants here with a coach coaching for his job in 2022 on a one year contract. Frost reduced his contract by 1 million dollars per year to free up more space to entice assistants to come here and give them 2 year contracts instead of 1. I think to get a top level OC, that is probably what you are going to need to do.

Now it’s up to Frost to find new assistants and get ready for Wisconsin and Iowa, two teams we are winless against since 2018. That scares me a bit to go up against the nations #1 defense and only have 1 full time offensive assistant helping, but as we stated earlier, these last two games shouldn’t dictate any opinion of this staff anyway.

Should scheme be determined by location?

I was watching the Browns vs Patriots game this past Sunday and Charles Davis who I really respect said something that got me thinking again about a conversation that always comes up in Nebraska. Should how you play football (your scheme) be determined by where you are? Davis stated “This Patriots team is built to win in November and beyond when the weather is awful and you need to run the ball.”

For the record, I always dismissed that. I thought as long as you were good at something you could pretty much do whatever you wanted. But the person I was watching with goes “well it makes some sense, I mean, there’s a reason when the coin toss goes that you choose the wind in the direction you want it for certain quarters, right? There’s quarters where teams can’t pass at all.”

I always went to Mike Leach as my “go to” to negate that argument, but the reality is while Lubbock is windy, it rarely gets that cold. Long and short, I think I can be sold either way on this. While I think Leach’s offense could work in Nebraska, I also have people that say Ohio State does the same things and have no issues. While that’s true, the Buckeyes still run for nearly 200 yards per game.

I believe it somewhat comes down to the fact that running the ball is portable while many times the pass isn’t. I have a ton of respect for Leach, but for as good as I think he is, he never played for a conference title. I understand he was at Tech going up against Texas and Oklahoma. I understand he was at Wazzu going up against Oregon and others. But typically he would just have a clunker game or two every year where the QB just couldn’t hook up with the WRs and end in a loss. I could see the message boards from “run the ball guy” saying “this is why you can’t have this type of offense up here!”

Someone else brought up a good point that you also need scheme that fits what players you can get. In Nebraska we have tons of TEs that would work. Since 2016 just look at our state, Noah Fant, Austin Allen, Jurgens a converted TE, Chris Hickman, Thomas Fidone, James Carnie, and guys like Kaden Helms and Micah Riley-Ducker going to Oklahoma and Auburn. Even Brahmer our 2023 commit is highly thought of. Guys like Helms, Fidone, Riley-Ducker, Brahmer, Fidone, they are every bit Jordan Akins from UCF (I know Akins was drafted just let me go here). We need to find something that gets our TEs more involved because we will always have an abundance of them.

Osborne basically had every team in Nebraska running the triple option which created players like Frost, Crouch, Tarpinian, Turman, Stuntz, etc. You had fullbacks everywhere like the Makovickas, Judd Davies, Dane Todd. Teams are all running what Nebraska and other schools run so it’s a lot easier now, but we had our own little factory here in the state.

Long and short of it, I don’t think it should dictate your scheme, but Charles Davis got me thinking. You need to be able to run the ball if things get dicey in November to win your division and get to Indy. People will say it’s not that bad in November but in reality I think it can get that way.

25 thoughts on “Trev will be right no matter what, and should location play a part in what scheme you run?

  1. I was glad to see how Trev handled the situation and I agree – he has really set himself up for no downside in the near future…if it doesnt work, he can say we reduced the payout and Scott got 5 full years…anyone would be happy with that I think…if it does work, he can point to giving him another chance with some changes…you nailed it above. I cant imagine starting all over again after next year, but another losing season and its over with. Will be interesting to see who the OC is coming in…maybe that gives us a heads up on the future of the offense’s direction.

    I still think we are under utilizing our tight ends…we should be targeting them 10-15 times a game IMO…they are just a matchup nightmare for almost any defense as 6’9″ and athletic just doesn’t come around that often…of course maybe they DID want to target the TE more and our O line just didn’t get enough protection or the QB didn’t see them?? Hard to tell without knowing the strategy and the thought process I guess.

    I get that Ohio State runs a very similar offense as ours, but we look like we struggle to do the simplest of plays, while they look like a well oiled machine…we will never have the top end talent they have, and nowadays, everyone runs a similar offense it seems like…so how do we get an advantage if we are not unique in what we do, and we dont have the 4 and 5 star talent that we are going up against?? IMO if we run the same offense as others (Ohio State), we are destined to be average at best (which would be a great increase over where we are now btw) because of the talent gap…so……why not switch it up a little and do more of the coastal carolina type thing? We have to have an offense that can average 200 yards per game rushing and not having the QB be the leading rusher IMO. I dont think anything like a Leach offense would work for the long haul in the B1G. Wisconsin is shaping up to be our toughest challenge of the year I think…..hopefully the team finds something, somewhere and can magically pull out 2 Wins these next couple of weeks (asking a lot I know), but man, talk about a different vibe going into the offseason (while watching other teams in bowls). GBR

    1. Good stuff; agreed, Leach’s system wouldn’t be popular and I don’t love the idea of looking like other B1G west teams on offense. Personally I would love to go the CC route on offense, fans would love it. I think we probably already have most of the pieces to make that happen if Logan is as good of a decision maker as Frost says he is. My big question is would it work against B1G defenses? That type of offense feasts on undisciplined defenses; while B1G teams may not have the fastest guys out there they are extremely disciplined and well-coached. Also, you have to have a really specific QB to run that stuff; needs to be mobile, durable, can pass and also make great decisions. Would it be better to have more of a plug-and-play type system, especially with the transfer portal becoming more prevalent? Just some thoughts.

      1. That Coastal offense we basically already have installed, and if Logan truly is not as good of a passer as Amart but can make quicker decisions, that would be a perfect fit for us next year and wouldn’t make it so pivotal to get a transfer portal QB.

    2. It’s crazy, we do the pass to Austin Allen where we just throw it up to him over the middle in clutch spots and it works many times. But other than that they don’t seem to be a focal point of the offense.

      I think you are onto something with them just knowing who they are. We try to be something different all the time and don’t have a few plays we can lean on. Couple that with new RBs and WRs every week depending on how practice goes and it makes it really tough to get good at something.

  2. I think that’s what Frost already envisions for his system he just hasn’t been able to make it materialize..

  3. Good thoughts. I don’t think scheme matters as much in CFB; games are over by the end of November and while yes the weather can get a little dicey, 75% of the time it isn’t like its Green Bay or Foxborough in mid-January. We’ll have a frigid/snowy game every few years. Bowl games/playoff games are played in either warm-weather locations or domes. Maybe things change if a more broad playoff is adopted at home sites.

    Would you want to run what basically the rest of the B1G west runs? Clock eating, game manager type offense? I feel like you can probably dip into the transfer portal and get those types of quarterbacks if needed any given year. It doesn’t really matter who is at QB for Wisconsin, Iowa, Northwestern, Purdue, Minnesota… on and on. How many times have we been beaten by a 2nd or 3rd string QB the last few years? If Neb can settle on an identity they can probably out-recruit these other teams in the midwest; maybe that would be enough to get it over the top. Having a QB just mobile enough to keep teams honest without getting them injured is key. It is why I am so intrigued by Haarberg; obviously he is raw but if he can make the throws, not make stupid mistakes and still get 40-60 rushing yards a game that is ideal. Too much RPO and thinking going on with the QB in the current offense; just call plays and keep things simple.

    1. I think I somewhat agree with your first paragraph, but take a look at the last two games and all the teams that are in must win situations like Iowa, WIsconsin, Minnesota, and Purdue. They typically can hang their hat on running and know what they are. I’m not too worried about being able to run whatever in a bowl game or CFP, i’m more worried about winning our division. Most years it will come down to being able to execute in November which may mean what offense you run needs to be able to be ran in sub 32 degree weather. I’m not gonna die on that hill, we can probably pass a ton and be good if we know what we are doing. I’m just looking for reasons we are bad and teams like Minnesota and Purdue have passed us. Heck, Purdue passes all day everyday but look what they did against us with the run. They were able to do that when they needed to.

      I like what Frost’s vision was, but we need to be better at those easy passes in my opinion. We should be able to run those bubble screens and throws to the TE and complete 90% of them so it’s like a run anyway to chew up clock. It’s pretty evident our line can’t get it done for running, so Martinez with veteran TEs and WRs like Toure, Manning, Betts, Martin, and Falck should be able to pitch and catch 5 yard gains all day.

      But to your point about identity, that’s what scares me about these new hires. We can’t just go get the Army OC to run our offense because what you’ve recruited to the last 4 or 5 years then gets blown up instantly. All of a sudden 6’9″ linemen don’t matter and actually are a detriment.

      More than anything knowing who you are can trump scheme due to weather/location in my opinion. But when the going gets tough being able to run probably helps teams like Wisconsin and Iowa.

  4. Build solid lines and you win 75% of your games. Our offensive line is young but is getting very experienced. They just need to get stronger and have more play calls where we can run right at teams without trickery. That includes staying on blocks better and not just chipping one guy and moving on to the next guy, only to have the first chipped guy make the tackle. I think our talent is just fine, but the techniques we coach are suspect.

    1. Very true; there is a reason oline guys like Farniok and Jaimes have been successful in the NFL; good talent misused while they are here.

    2. I think that’s a good point. We just sit there and try to out-scheme teams and put ourselves in second and longs sometimes instead of letting our four star linemen like Benhart, Corcoran, Jurgens, etc., just mow down inferior DLs. But when they aren’t getting movement, I get it’s tough for our guy calling plays.

  5. I’m not as worried about the scheme itself as I am about having a staff that knows how to implement their scheme and call plays within it. I think we need to be able to run the ball effectively but I also think there has to be a layer of balance. I’m not as worked up on whether we do it from an up tempo spread system or under center with a huddle as to whether we are able to play to our teams strengths. Same story on defense. We need to be able to defend the run but I don’t care if we use an even or odd front, if we personnel match or not, etc. Good coaches know how to make their system work.

    I think the biggest failure of this staff is the disconnect between the strategic vision and the implement. We recruit long, athletic OL then we put a ton of weight on them and watch them struggle in a system that requires athleticism. We recruit small, fast receivers and brag about their speed. Then we call plays that require them to block and they struggle so we switch it up for a walk-on with zero speed and average size and can’t figure out why struggle stretching defenses. We pound smaller running backs inside then complain the bigger backs we brought in aren’t good enough receivers so they have to ride the bench. This probably works if you land the kind of talent Bama and Clemson do but its not a recipe of success at most spots. The new offensive staff needs to be fully aligned and have a plan for how to use the kids we have in the program today.

  6. Agree Trev set himself on high ground with the move. I don’t agree with it because I don’t think it has a snow balls chance in hell of working but I definitely understand the decision. The only real downside I can see is if Frost produces a middling season which doesn’t give Trev real cover to cut the cord. Does 6-6 and a bowl get you fired? It should but I have no idea what the metrics are. All I can say is it better involve winning football games.

    I think scheme is important. I think identity is more important. Identities: Wisconsin – run the ball behind a giant O line. tOSU – RPO with 5 star talent all over the field and can run in November. Iowa – play physical close games and score enough to win with a run/pass mix. MSU – Tucker is going to run the ball and be physical all day long.

    I think the biggest problem with Frost’s offense is there is no identity. Do we run the ball well? 2AM does but do you want your QB getting pounded week in week out in the BIG? Let me just say rolling him out there for weeks with a broken jaw should be a clue. Do we have a bell cow running back who we can lean on? Good stable of backs but we haven’t had ‘the guy’ for four straight years. Passing game? Our O line cannot block in pass pro. We have legit threats at the wideout position but can we get them the ball when it’s crunch time. The short answer is no.

    There is no identifiable thing that we do really well and can lean on when the game is on the line or we need to step on someone’s throat. The teams with an identity go back to that well when they need it. Nebraska used to have an identity in spades. I don’t think it has to go back to running the option but we need something to hang our hat on. The other issue without an identity is the thing that drives me mad every Saturday. Our use of personnel is completely insane. The list of skill position players that make plays one week and then get ghosted the next four is a mile long. As mentioned how we use our tight ends week to week makes no sense. Why don’t we target them in the red zone?

    On the question of scheme/location. I think it’s more important in the NFL when teams play in December and some into January. I think it’s less important in college unless you are really far north like Minny, Wiscy, both Michgan teams. However I think it would be wise to have a sound running game at NU for a couple of reasons. First I think it is key to being able to win in the BIG. Grinding out drives against West division rivals is going to be necessary. Secondly those late November games can get nasty and if you are not able to run the ball it could be the difference between a win or loss in crunch time.

    Will be interesting who the OC hire is. That ought to give us a clue where this is headed.

  7. I think what is missing in all this talk about schemes is coaching. Coaching is teaching. Why isn’t the Oline taught to hold their blocks a little longer instead of a quick chip? Teach them how to effectively run block- these guys have athletic ability and strength- correct their technique. Talking about scheme all the time means you’re turning a blind eye to the real problem-teaching technique. Heck, the message boards are full of people who understand what we’re trying to do, scheme wise, players need to be taught technique. Coaching is teaching.
    Being able to run the ball works in more weather conditions than passing. Muddy, mucky fields with no wind, passing works better, the rest of the time, running gets my vote.

    1. This is my biggest question regarding our running game. Is it talent, technique or scheme. We see so many quick check blocks or even whiff where it appears the offensive lineman intentionally double team a dlineman while another guy next to him goes untouched. Was that a mistake or scheme?

  8. SSO, from what I understand of the restructured contract Frost has the first six games of the 2022 season before the new terms of the contract kick in. To me, that means he has to hit the ground running from game #1 and progress from there. Wouldn’t this dire timeline preclude any radical changes to the system? It’s not like a first year coach who can afford to have the team make a few missteps in the first year while he is building the foundation and they learn the system. It would seem to me then that whoever he gets must operate pretty closely to the existing framework and not install an entirely new system.

    And FWIW, I’m also in the camp that this has virtually no chance of succeeding but fully understand Trev’s reasoning for going this route.

    1. That’s my thing. People stating Army OC or whatever aren’t dealing in reality because if we do an entire change to our offense with a defense that will be starting new players everywhere, it will be really tough to win.

  9. Yeah, I’ve never believed we had to be a sole running team to win here. That depends on the coach and talent we bring in however you cut it. Even in New England, they had years where they were very pass happy even in the cold. Now, I do think being a cold-weather team, it is important to BE ABLE to run the ball when it calls for it, as you may be playing in conditions more often that are not conducive to passing.

    I look at Oklahoma how historically they had the wishbone, and now are known to be a spread/air attack team. I can buy if you think we’d recruit better if we mimicked Iowa and Wisconsin to an extent of being a power running team. With that argument I feel like the assumption is we aren’t going to get elite talent try to be better at running with less talent. But at the end of the day I really think we can make any scheme/offense work with good talent & coaching. I guess

    1. I actually was thinking of New England and how much Brady threw there. They did a ton of those short passes to guys like Welker and Edelman while occasionally having the luxury of Randy Moss to take the top off the coverage.

      I don’t think we need to be Wisconsin or Iowa, quite frankly it’s foreign to our current staff anyway, and we’d be behind what both of those teams have built for a decade. I think it really comes down to us having an identity which we don’t have and being able to run against teams like Illinois, Purdue, and Wisconsin.

  10. Great read. However, as a Columbus boy, I can’t handle that you didn’t list Schlesinger when you listed the fullbacks.

  11. I really enjoy your blog and insight. You’re right, Nebraska did have a ‘factory’ for a long, long time. As a blueprint guy, I say yes to a particular scheme, yes to returning to a true identity in power option football, the blueprint that established the team’s legacy. I’ll never understand this almost twenty-year case of amnesia. Devaney and Osborne realized that identity based on location and the sustainable talent available and I don’t believe much has changed in that regard. This area of the county will never compete with the available talent that’s near most other name brand schools. There’s an article from 2018 outlining why the service academies still use the option attack and it’s due to it being an “equalizer” when factoring in the player restrictions they adhere to. It goes on to make the case of how potent it could be for teams without those restrictions. The option, the walk-on program, the entire system to make 2 and 3 star players into All-Americans was Nebraska’s equalizer. In 1993 after losing to FSU, I’ll never forget the media stance that Osborne ran a dinosaur of an offense forever destined to come up short. So the resulting championships were incredibly satisfying. It wasn’t just that they rattled off three in four years, it was how they were won. It’s odd to me that after decades of success with a particular identity, Nebraska, almost overnight with Callahan and continuing today, looks around in confusion on what their brand of football should look like. So I guess I’m that old, run-the-damn-ball guy, but when considering what built this program into what it is, I’m surprised there aren’t more.

    1. I actually wouldn’t mind a “service academy” type offense here, I was for it if that’s who Moos would have chose back in 2018. I would have a hard time with Frost bringing in someone like that now when he has basically 6 games to show he can do this in 2022 before a decision is made.

      I don’t think we need a factory, but it certainly helped our success. Hell, in 1997 we had something like 9 starters on offense from Nebraska. If that’s ever going to happen again we would be dead last in the conference in my opinion. So getting guys from different places is important.

      1. Yeah, I don’t see Frost going that route. But if a service-style coach did eventually come to Nebraska, I don’t equate having a lot of starters on offense from in-state to being dead last in the conference. Yes, still need to get talent from many other areas of course. Regardless of where they would come from, a truly dominant O-Line, without service academy restrictions, would be the key to moving the ball in BIG. Nebraska, the Midwest in general, has been good at producing those guys, which is a reason Nebraska used to rotate a ton throughout games and reload the next year. With some modern adjustments included, I believe the team has a solid blueprint for success should they choose to return to roots. I think it’s time to reclaim the Pipeline from Madison who stole it from Lincoln.

        Hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday season!

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