The old joke about football is that if you ask 100 coaches how something should be done, you will end up getting 100 different answers. So that’s why when things go great people try to emulate but put their own spin on it. Conversely when things go bad you can say “see they shouldn’t have been doing _______ “. There’s things that I didn’t mind that Frost did, but there’s also things that I really didn’t understand the theory behind them. We are going to start with a few of the differences i’ve seen so far.
“We aren’t going to yell and scream at these kids”
Anyone remember when Frost said this initially?
So Frost and his staff prided themselves on not yelling at the kids, they weren’t going to raise their voices. I actually thought it made a lot of sense when it rolled out. In my opinion, kids go into a shell a lot easier nowadays than back when I played. So if you wanted to get the most out of them and not have them shut you off, raising your voice maybe wasn’t the answer.
But something weird happened the last 5 years. And please let me know if i’m overthinking this, but I believe we turned into one of the softest teams in America. Was that because our guys were never being told they did something wrong? Was it because everything was just a nice softly spoken “gotta do it different here”?
Rhule and his staff have made a change where they definitely raise their voices. I’ll even say a couple of the position coaches go really hard on F-bombs towards their players. “What the fuck was that?!” and just letting them know. In my opinion it is a different way of holding kids accountable. I think having strongly worded communication with the players to let them know it isn’t acceptable could go a long ways. And wait until you hear our RB coach, he definitely is always yelling and coaching. He is going hard towards these guys.
And one of the things I noticed that Rhule does which I believe to be more calcluated than just yelling at anyone and everyone, is that he will let not only players have it, but coaches and support staff as well. “Can whoever is in charge of the playclock we are supposed to be using do their fucking job please!” It was a bit shocking, but I started to look at the bigger picture of him being able to say “don’t take these things personally, I scolded the guy who had the footballs in the wrong corner too.” Rhule will be able to counter any player that thinks it’s personal with the yelling, because he does it to everyone. I would say Rhule is much more like Pelini than some people realize, and I think we need that fire and accountability back.
To me, it just felt more like a football practice. There was physicality, there were coaches screaming for effort or to applaud big plays. It just looked like what I would think a football practice looks like and it hadn’t for the past few seasons. Not sure if that makes sense but that’s just the feeling I got.
“We aren’t going to stop practice to correct mistakes, we will do that in the film room”
Does everyone remember when Frost came here and said that? The goal was to get a ton of reps in which in turn would get the players more football plays to get better. One coach said to me “well, if your dog bites someone do you wait until the people leave and watch film of them doing it and say ‘no’? Probably should correct it right there. Not to mention are you really gonna let it go all practice? That’s how bad habits form.”
To be fair, Frost did try to make a change in his last year or two to make more corrections on the field in an effort to reduce penalties and fix some mental errors. But at that point he was so far from what made him successful in Orlando I believe he was just grasping at straws.
Rhule is again more like Pelini in the sense that they will stop what they are doing to make sure not only the person that made the mistake, but other people at that position understand that’s not how to do something. To make this even easier, back when Frost was here the music would be blaring from practice start to practice end. I get it, on practice number 9 or the spring with a game 5 months away yet, it’s tough to motivate. But Rhule again is a bit opposite here. While they will keep the music going during warm-ups and certain drills, they often times cut it completely off and give him a microphone so when he is saying something everyone can hear him. Again, no excuse to see the mistake again after everyone can hear it.
We didn’t run a play with a full 11 guys until 90 minutes into practice
A buddy looked at me and goes “if this was one of my practices, the parents watching would be so mad, we’ve done nothing but individual work and some 7 on 7. Haven’t ran a single play with everyone involved yet.”
Rhule and his staff are drilling individual circuits right now. It reminds me a bit of Harbaugh’s quote from awhile ago:
If you remember, when Chinander got fired and then Busch took over, we finally started tackling in practice. We had gotten so far away from what football is during practices that it hardly looked like it on Saturdays. Once Busch and them got the final 8 games of our guys doing that, things looked a ton different.
And Rhule is continuing what Joseph and Busch started last year. While the scrimmage had some thud periods, it was definitely all live (even the QBs) certain times during the two practices i’ve been to. I’m hoping we won’t have to see comments like this from our starters in the future:
Special teams coach with dedicated special teams during practice
If any of you have been following me for a few years, i’m sure you thought I was going to pass away from a stroke everytime Frost didn’t have a special teams coordinator. That has been alleviated with hiring Coach Foley and Wager helping him. During the practices i’ve seen, special teams gets drill work in the middle of practice. With the last staff, “specialists” would come in before the “true practice start” and get work in. That even happened with Riley’s staff. I believe putting it in the middle of practice and having Foley with Wager helping puts more focus on it and emphasizes just how important it is. There’s the famous story about how media would show up for interviews after practice and Bruce Read would be getting in his car to head home as Lincoln Journal Star and World Herald members were showing up. No more of that.
“Aura of arrogance” is gone
One of the guys I was with looks at me and goes “this really feels different watching this, doesn’t it?” I of course responded with “well it’s an entirely different staff” but he said “no…. like there’s an aura of arrogance that isn’t here anymore.” He was right. And i’m not sure how to describe it but i’ll try.
With the last staff, they came in cocky. They went 13-0 and basically had the idea they knew what they were doing. If you went to a practice or the coaches clinic like many of you did, you could talk to them but it always just seemed like they felt obligated to not walk away. It’s fine, i’d be a bit cocky too if I won national coach of the year and went undefeated in big boy football. But once things didn’t translate to the B1G, I think they lost their way. The culmination was last coaches clinic where my buddy texted me that Frost showed up late in wrinkly jeans, glasses on as if he came off an all night bender, and their featured speaker had a 5 page powerpoint presentation about how just find your leader like Suh was. It almost felt like they were dead men walking.
Fast-forward to the two practices i’ve been to and the coaches actually approached me on both ocassions as if I mattered at all. Coach White was asking me about a blitz package, and quite frankly all of them have a bit of humility. They are all unbelievably shocked at the reception they’ve received as well as the passion from the residents, fans, and coaches. It’s almost as if they don’t want to let us down, while it somewhat felt like the previous staff thought we were lucky to have them there. Maybe going to Carolina and failing is a good thing. Maybe Satterfield hearing that South Carolina fans are happy to have him gone is a good thing? Look, I think Frost got a ton of learning lessons in here and he’s gonna catch on somewhere and do well if he’s ready personally. But it was refreshing to see.
The coach wants to be a part of the community, not hide in it
If you remember, Frost made a big deal about not reaching out to his family about things. You rarely saw them out. I remember when rumors started swirling I looked at my wife and said “you know what could make those go away? Take your wife out to dinner so people see you with her and that squashes anything going around.” Instead, do any of you remember that the athletic department had to manufacture his family coming to the field to meet him?
That had never happened before. And with all the things circulating they basically staged it.
Conversely, we have a new coach that wants to be seen everywhere. He’s doing things with the Lincoln Stars. He’s having the players rewarded if they go to womens basketball games, mens basketball games. He’s trying to inject Husker football not only into the community but within the University as well. A novel concept. I think this tweet sums it up pretty well:
Click on the pic, she basically said she’s been reaching out the last five years and been getting ghosted. It took Rhule 3 months.
I’m sure some people are rolling their eyes. But I just sit here and think about how we thought we needed “one of our own” or “someone that knows who we are and what we value.” I believe on the surface Frost was a really good hire, but his actions didn’t back up his words.
Look everyone… does all of this matter? Maybe not all of it, but I do think some of it does. There just seems to be a sense of pride and not wanting to let people down. There’s some things I highlighted that probably won’t matter a lot, and there’s others that I think will make a big difference. It appears we have an accountable head football coach that is proud to be a part of this University and it’s program. I’m hoping it turns into a bowl game instantly in 2023.
Tomorrow we will have the LB preview, but don’t forget we also posted a practice observations piece this morning as well!
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Feel free to check out our other post from today where we went over Practice Observations for the Offense!