EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — It’s true: Sometimes Scott Frost wants to just dash onto the field and run the play himself.
Frost, the former Nebraska quarterback who led the Huskers to a share of the 1997 national championship, is settling into his role as offensive coordinator for No. 3 Oregon. Except for the fact that at times he needs to resist the urge to join in.
“I don’t think it ever leaves any of us who used to play. Some of the guys who aren’t around football every day after playing are a little bit luckier because they don’t have to watch someone else doing it all the time,” Frost said. “I’m mostly over it now, but there’s still times I get out and throw with the quarterbacks. I miss the competition.”
Frost joined the Ducks’ staff in 2009 as wide receivers coach under then-head coach Chip Kelly, architect of Oregon’s speedy spread option. Earlier this year, he was promoted to offensive coordinator to replace Mark Helfrich, who was named head coach when Kelly left the Ducks for the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles.
Helfrich said there was never a doubt that the 38-year-old Frost would be the perfect fit.
“Frosty did a great job in the spring. He’s a bright guy, a sharp guy, and he did a great job taking control of that role,” Helfrich said. “He is somebody I trust wholeheartedly. ... That is something that I want to be able to do: Whether it is an offensive guy, a defensive guy or a special teams situation, I want to be able at any time to look a guy in the eye.”
Frost grew up in Wood River, Neb. His father, Larry, was a halfback for the Huskers and went on to become the coach at Wood River High School. His mother, Carol, was a national champion in the discus and was on the U.S. Olympic team. She now serves as receivers coach for her husband.
Frost played two seasons at Stanford before transferring to Nebraska, where he was 24-2 as a starter under coach Tom Osborne. His senior season in 1997 was capped by a 42-17 victory over Tennessee and quarterback Peyton Manning in the Orange Bowl. As for the national championship: The 13-0 Huskers finished as the No. 1 team in the coaches’ poll, while undefeated Michigan was No. 1 in the AP poll.
He went on to play for six years in the NFL, with the Jets, Browns, Packers and Buccaneers.
Frost’s first coaching job was as a graduate assistant for the Huskers in 2002. He was linebackers coach at Northern Iowa in 2008 before being named co-defensive coordinator the next year.
He was hired by Kelly in 2009. The Ducks have gone 46-7 since then.
Frost is now in charge of quarterbacks, a natural fit, and he’s got one of the best in the country in sophomore Marcus Mariota, whom some have labeled an early Heisman Trophy contender.
“The funny thing is that every time I’ve gotten a job coaching a different position, things that I didn’t even realize that I knew come back to me,” Frost said. “Situations come up and it makes you remember a situation that happened when you were playing or a coaching point that somebody gave you along the way.”
Mariota set the team’s single-season record with 38 touchdowns (32 passing, 5 rushing, 1 receiving). The first freshman selected to the Pac-12’s all-conference first team in 23 years, Mariota passed for 2,677 yards while completing a school-record 68.5 percent of his passes. He had 3,429 yards of total offense.
Although the Ducks’ trademark is their warp-speed ground game, there’s talk that Mariota may pass more now that he’s got a year of starting experience.
“I’ve heard those rumors, too. I think those are the talking heads, the people outside of the program who are prognosticating,” Frost said. “We’re going to do whatever gives us the best chance to win. That said, Marcus Mariota is a very talented passer. He’s going to give us a great chance to win when he throws the ball.”
On Saturday, when the Ducks open the season at home against Nicholls State, Frost will be watching from upstairs in the booth, something new to him at Oregon. Play-calling will be collaborative, as it was under Kelly.
“It’s a different experience up there. You’re able to separate yourself from the emotion of it and see the whole field,” Frost said. “It’s more like playing chess with live action figures than being on the sideline and coaching emotion and making sure everyone’s head is on right. It’s a different kind of coaching.”
And it will no doubt help keep him from any impulse to join in the game.