Frost provides update on Spielman, wraps short Husker week ahead of Black Friday showdown
Not surprisingly, Nebraska coach Scott Frost did not let reporters in on the official status of sophomore receiver JD Spielman on Wednesday afternoon.
The Huskers practiced a bit later in the day because the university didn’t have classes Wednesday and the team will travel to Iowa City on Thursday for an 11 a.m. Friday kickoff against the Hawkeyes.
Frost would only say that “we’ve got our fingers crossed” that Spielman would be able to play.
The dynamic slot man has more than 800 receiving yards and eight touchdowns but did not play against Michigan State. Spielman was apparently injured on a third-quarter punt return against Illinois on Nov. 10 when it looked like his left foot was pinned beneath a tackler.
“If there’s any way for JD to be out there, he’ll be out there,” Frost said. ”… JD is a competitor. He always wants to be on the field.”
Zach Duval Season: Nebraska’s players last year went from Nov. 25’s season-ending loss until about Jan. 15 without organized workouts because the team didn’t qualify for a bowl and had a change in coaching staff.
This year, NU is shortening that 50-or-so day gap considerably.
If the Huskers beat Iowa on Friday, they may not know right away whether they’ve been officially eliminated from bowl contention. Assuming they don’t make one, though — getting a bid appears very unlikely even with a win — the staff has a plan in place.
“We’re going to come back and give them a week off and see where we land,” Frost said. “If the season’s over, we’re going to get a head start on winter conditioning with one week before they take off (for winter break).
“When we inherited this team last January, the guys had been stagnant for a long time and it caused us a few issues at the beginning of winter conditioning. Now, our guys are going to be in better shape headed into it, but we want to make sure not to take an entire month off before we start so we can get more work done in the winter.”
Short, sharp week: Frost was happy with the way his group handled the short week of preparation. The team had a Sunday night walkthrough to get a jump on installing a game plan, and then moved everything up a day.
“They came back and practiced their butts off this week,” he said, answering a question about a potential letdown after a 9-6 Senior Day win over Michigan State. “You could say there could be an emotional hangover, you could also say these guys are getting a taste of what it feels like to do things the right way and experience success and they want more of it. Hopefully the latter emotion wins out, and I know we’ve had another good week of practice and our guys are dialed in.
“We’ll go give it our best shot.”
Wrap session: Frost and the staff are headed straight out on the road recruiting after Friday, and Frost was asked to reflect on what his main takeaways from the season are.
“I think pride in the fact that we improved through a lot of difficulties and a lot of unfortunate circumstances and also a little bit of disappointment,” he said. “I wish we’d have the team like this when the season started. I think it would have been a heckuva fun season and I think we’d have won a bunch of games. But those changes don’t happen overnight and sometimes those are lessons you have to learn.
“We have a lot of work to get done and hopefully we’ve laid the groundwork for things to come.”
Givers, not takers: The Huskers were slated to spend Wednesday afternoon visiting local hospitals to spread some holiday cheer to young patients. That’s been a staple here and one Frost wanted to make sure stayed in place.
“I want these guys to get out in the community and help, learn how to be givers, not takers,” he said. “The more they can be reminded how much of a role model they are to the people of this state and how much of heroes they are to the young kids in this state, I think the better for our team. That’s a tradition we’ll keep, and I’m glad to get those guys out there and see if they can’t make a difference with somebody.”