LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Scott Frost starts his second year at Nebraska with an experienced quarterback and high expectations.
The Cornhuskers, who open preseason practice Friday, went 4-2 after an 0-6 start last season and are a trendy pick to win the Big Ten West.
“We haven’t done anything yet,” Frost said Thursday, “so I kind of feel some of the expectations are a little premature. I think it helps us a little bit from a confidence standpoint that other people can see what’s happening here, and aside from that we’re going to shut it all out and be the best team we can be.”
The reason Nebraska is favored in a wide-open division is Adrian Martinez, who was the most productive freshman quarterback in the nation and whose running and passing abilities are perfectly suited to Frost’s up-tempo offense.
The defense, led by a deep and experienced line, is expected to continue the improvement that started last season. Nebraska allowed an average of 14 fewer points over the final six games.
“I like this team a lot better going into this year,” Frost said. “Just seeing the looks on guys faces when you walk past them in the hallway, seeing them hanging out together, addressing each other. There is a whole different feel this year, more of a winning feel, and a feeling I’m used to.
“I can’t wait to get to work with these guys. I think everybody is in shape, primed and ready and rested to go to work. We’ve got a lot to accomplish.”
The Huskers’ only losses the second half of the season were 36-31 at then-No. 8 Ohio State and 31-28 at Iowa on a last-second field goal. Their best win was 9-6 at home over Michigan State in the snow.
“As you saw through the end of the season, we kind of started to figure out how to create winning habits, how to become a winning team,” offensive lineman Matt Farniok said. “We have a confidence to ourselves. We’re not cocky, but we trust what we’re going to do and we believe we’re going to do it.”
The status of running back Maurice Washington remains undetermined. He faces felony and misdemeanor charges in California for possessing a video of a person under 18 engaging in or simulating sexual conduct and for distributing that video without consent. The person he texted the video to is a former girlfriend.
His next court hearing is set Sept. 3, after the Huskers’ Aug. 31 opener against South Alabama. Frost said Washington would practice, but no decision has been made on when, or if, he’ll play.
“It’s unfortunate this hasn’t been worked out to this point,” Frost said. “I certainly am keeping it as far away from me and the rest of the team as we can. That process has to work out on its own timing. When a decision is made, it won’t be just me making it. It will be leaders of the athletic department and university as well.”
NOTES: Though Nebraska has shown up on some preseason top 25 lists, the Huskers aren’t on Frost’s ballot in the coaches’ poll. “I hope we are at the end of the year. Any progress we made is just progress. Nothing is going to happen until we go out and earn it.” … Redshirt freshman Will Farniok, Matt’s little brother, will start practice as the No. 1 center. Projected starter Cam Jurgens is coming back from a foot injury. … Freshman RB Ronald Thompkins, who picked Nebraska over Alabama and other SEC schools, continues to recover from a knee injury and is not on the 110-man practice roster.
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