Multiple coaches were mic’d up for drills. A player who hasn’t spoken to local media in months was on set. Analysts gushed at various improvements from a year ago.
The Big Ten Network made its annual bus tour stop in Lincoln on Monday, and the reactions were almost unanimously positive. The hourlong special aired later in the evening while network broadcasters explored how and why the Huskers appear far different from the 4-8 team of last year.
Among the highlights from the feature:
» Offensive line coach Greg Austin and offensive coordinator Troy Walters both wore microphones during various exercises. Austin’s was a zone-blocking drill — if an O-lineman took a step to his right and didn’t have a defensive lineman to block, he had to quickly find a linebacker at the next level. Walters worked with receivers on when to adjust routes within a play.
» Receiver JD Spielman joined quarterback Adrian Martinez on the BTN set inside Memorial Stadium for a segment discussing the offense and defense. Spielman — who generally declines to speak with media members — said his favorite part about the up-tempo offense has been its ability to create mismatches and confusion for defenders.
Martinez said the offense is making the defense better, too: “If they can line up against us, I think they can line up against anyone.”
» Coach Scott Frost also participated in an on-set interview, fielding questions about strength coach Zach Duval and the quality of the Big Ten, among other topics. Asked about the expectations of a Top 25 ranking, he said he thinks the high standards will be good for the team and not a distraction.
Said Frost: “I think expectations have been way too low in Lincoln for way too long.”
Frost also said the Huskers ran their last round of installations over the weekend. The team’s familiarity on offense will allow it to do more “on the fly” this season, whereas it had to generally stick to a script a year ago.
» BTN host Dave Revsine and analysts Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith all praised the progress of the Huskers compared to their visit a year ago. DiNardo was most impressed with NU’s depth at quarterback and the overall physical change. Griffith said the way coaches communicate with players — no yelling or cursing — stands out. Revsine pointed to beefed-up linemen and impact transfers.
DiNardo, who said at Big Ten media days he thought the lofty projections for NU made it overrated, has reconsidered after his Monday visit.
“My opinion has totally changed,” DiNardo said. “They’re further along than I anticipated.”