Frost Makes Move he had to Make
February 20, 2020
A few weeks ago, the Nebraska football program made some significant assistant coaching changes. Head coach Scott Frost fired offensive coordinator Troy Walters, and brought in former Washington OC and Oregon assistant coach Matt Lubick to replace him. The move was one that Frost had to make, and one that is encouraging to see him make too.
It was evident that throughout the 2019 football season, Frost had a seemingly unwavering loyalty towards starting QB Adrian Martinez, even as his play continued to decrease. The noise was as loud as ever after the Huskers dropped their season finale against Iowa 27-24 to finish the year 5-7 and miss a bowl game for the third consecutive campaign. In the third quarter of that game, with Nebraska trailing 24-10, backup QB Luke McCaffery threw a beautiful 39 touchdown pass to close within 24-17. But, to disappointment of many, Martinez trotted back out onto the field for the next Nebraska possession, and while he did lead a 60-yard touchdown drive to tie the game at 24, the offense went into a shell after that. Nebraska finished its season with four consecutive drives that ended in punts, and it was Martinez who made the games’ decisive mistake on the Huskers final drive of the season. After it was over, it was clear that Scott Frost, and his blind loyalty for Martinez, had lost Nebraska this football game, a game that was by far the biggest game he had coached at Nebraska. It was not out of the question that if McCaffery finishes the game at QB, the Huskers beat the Hawkeyes and go bowling.
At the dawn of the offseason, it was clear Frost needed to change some of things he was doing in order to prepare for a pivotal year three of his tenure. One area that needed a big improvement was the wide receiver room, and especially developing the talent that was on the roster. Much hyped to begin the year, graduate-transfer Kanawai Noa massively underperformed in 2019. Mike Williams disappeared for much of the season, and Jaron Woodyard did too. Kade Warner did not make as big of an impact as many hoped. It seemed the only guys that could make big plays were Wan’dale Robinson and JD Speilman. There was a stunning lack of development from guys that Frost brought it in, as Speilman was recruited under the previous regime. The fact that the wide receivers coach also happened to be the offensive coordinator, and that the entire offense took a step back in 2019 meant that many people wanted Troy Walters to be fired. But, it did not seem realistic that such a move would take place, given Frost and his blind loyalty problem, a problem that was turning more and more problematic.
The Huskers did sign some talented wide outs to their 2020 class, including Omar Manning, Zavier Betts and Marcus Fleming, but it was fair to wonder if they would be a disappointment because Nebraska’s WRs were not well-coached in 2019, and given Frost’s track record it seemed unlikely a change was not going to happen.
Smoke had been building for quite some time, but finally on January 17, Frost made a decision he likely will not regret anytime soon. He fired Troy Walters. The decision showed that Frost’s loyalty only goes so far, and that he is capable of simply evaluating performance, and making changes if he needed to. To fix the wide receiver problem, Frost brought in Matt Lubick. Lubick had previously been the offensive coordinator on Chris Peterson’s staff at Washington, helping lead the Huskies to the college football playoff in 2017, and the Rose Bowl in 2018. Lubick brings plenty of power five experience to Lincoln, and he understandings how to win in major college football. It is a massive upgrade over Walters, and one that could ultimately help Nebraska win a lot of football games.
September 5, 2020 is going to turn into a massive day for the Nebraska football program. That day, the Huskers open a pivotal year three under Frost with a home date against Purdue. A win, and a 7-0 start seems feasible. A loss, and the road to six wins and a bowl game looks bleak. Frost did something not many thought he was capable of doing, and because of it, Nebraska has a much better chance to win that football game and is also just simply a better football program.