LINCOLN — Nebraska football coach Scott Frost said Monday his team's practice cleanest yet this season. And it's a good thing, too, as NU works through injury issues and prepares to play undefeated Minnesota on the road.
“We’re challenging the guys — pour everything you got into this week,” Frost said at his weekly press conference. “The guys definitely responded and came out and practiced fast. There weren’t a lot of balls on the ground today. The guys knew what they were doing and started the week off well.”
At quarterback, backup Noah Vedral said he took the first-team snaps at Monday's practice. Adrian Martinez — the usual starter who is day-to-day after he suffered an injury Saturday — usually takes the vast majority of snaps during practice.
“If Adrian is ready to go, that’s awesome," Vedral said. "I’m hoping for the best for him. But myself and the rest of the quarterbacks will be ready when we need to be."
Wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson said every quarterback practices with every receiver, letting the team feel comfortable whether Martinez is playing or not.
Frost gave his analysis of Minnesota, as well, highlighting the team’s efficient quarterback, good receivers and ability to get physical up front.
Frost said Nebraska has improved its defense since last year, but stressed the challenge will be a good opportunity for the Huskers.
Of Saturday’s possible snow forecast in Minnesota, Frost said, “I’m hoping for a nice pretty brisk fall day. If it turns into something else, we just have to make sure we have the right plays on the call sheet to operate in whatever environment we’re playing in.”
Robinson, a freshman from Kentucky, said he’s never played football in snow before. Vedral, on the other hand, seemed unfazed by the forecast.
“What was it they said? Thirty to 40 (degrees)? That’s not quite cold for Nebraska standards. We’ll be OK,” Vedral said.
Looking back to the 13-10 Husker win over Northwestern, Frost said the game-winning kick from walk-on Lane McCallum was a break the team had been due to get.
“The kick certainly wasn’t high enough," Frost said. "It found an unbelievable hole over somebody’s hands, under somebody else’s hands, and through.”
More quick hits:
» Frost also spoke about his decision to bench Maurice Washington for the first half of the Northwestern game. Frost said the team holds players to certain standards.
“We’ll see how he responds this week," Frost said. "We want him to come back and prepare well and get ready to play well. If he does, this will all be water under the bridge."
» Frost chose to offer a scholarship to Vedral in part because he knew Noah's family — especially uncles Jon Vedral and Matt Turman — and he had "the right mentality" coming out of high school. Noah Vedral's status as a multi-sport athlete — he played point guard in basketball and ran hurdles in track — also helped.
"There's a lot of lessons to learn from other sports," Frost said. "Track makes you faster, more athletic, more explosive. Basketball helps you with body control and understanding space. Just the competition of all those things help. I want to recruit a lot of guys who are multi-sport athletes because it means they love competition, love being out there."
» Including last year's win over Minnesota, Nebraska is 8-4 since that game, while Minnesota is 9-3. Both teams have made bigger strides in the last 12 games than most programs in the Big Ten.
"The whole thing's a process, and you have to keep getting better inch by inch and day by day, and it's pretty obvious they've continued to improve and I think we're on the right trajectory as well," Frost said.
Does Frost feel like he's won two-thirds of his last 12 games?
"I don't know," Frost said with a chuckle. "We're just in the middle of the process trying to get us where we want to be. We've certainly come a long way but I don't think anybody in the building's happy with where we are either."
» Running back Rahmir Johnson is an example of a player who might have played a full season a few years ago instead of just four to preserve his redshirt rule. The four-game rule requires Frost to discuss strategy each week with his assistant coaches on how to proceed.