Call it whatever you want.
Perhaps it’s the flexbone or the inverted wishbone or maybe it’s just good ol’ Old School Nebraska Football. Maybe, as NU head coach Scott Frost said Monday, it’s the I-formation and the double wing.
Whatever the name, Nebraska fans and opponents can expect to see more of the new package that the Huskers broke out late in the first quarter of a lopsided loss to Ohio State on Saturday night. Operating out of an I-formation and out of Frost’s double wing, the Huskers for one drive looked more like the teams Frost quarterbacked in the mid-1990s than the ones he’s coached the past three seasons.
“We have some personnel that I think can run it,” Frost said Monday. “You can’t run that stuff unless you’ve been working on it, and we’ve been working on it for a long time. Some of the things we’re running fit the defense that (Ohio State) gave us. I thought the guys went out and executed that well. We had a whole drive that we put together with that stuff. …
“I want that to be a piece of what we’re doing. It’s part of what Nebraska has been built on and the fabric of what we are, what we need to get back to a little bit. We have the right personnel to do it. So, we’ll pick our spots but it certainly looked pretty good on the first time out.”
Head football coach Scott Frost talks about moving on from Ohio State and preparing for Northwestern on Sept. 30, 2019.
Key in that personnel group are sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez and junior running back Dedrick Mills, who filled a similar role in 2016 at Georgia Tech, when he won the ACC’s freshman of the year award as the "B" back or fullback in Paul Johnson’s option offense.
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“It's simple because I played at Georgia Tech before. It's something I was used to,” Mills said. “They thought I was the perfect back for it."
Don’t expect the Huskers to fully turn back the clock by two decades and turn into a full-on option attack, but Frost said it will continue to pop up, particularly based on how defenses want to align against the Huskers.
“I think it could be a real weapon for us moving forward, and we’re going to continue to work on it and progress with it,” Martinez said. “We’ll see where it goes in the coming future.”
Martinez and tight end Austin Allen both said that Frost helped demonstrate the finer points in practice. Martinez joked this summer at Big Ten football media days that he didn’t watch much film of Frost because the offenses are so different. Now, though, he confirmed that brushing up.
“It was nice to see him running this offense, so it was a better understanding for us,” Allen added. “He could tell the guys exactly what he wants.”
On an eight-play drive, NU ran four plays out of the I-formation and two out of the double wing (one under center, one shotgun version). It featured Mills as a fullback, Wan'Dale Robinson as the tailback in the I-form and Robinson and Allen as the wingbacks from the double wing.
“I think that’s a huge weapon we can use, because a lot of times teams are practicing for our spread, RPO offense,” Allen said. “And when we throw in something like that, teams have to waste a couple days just talking about this I-formation offense.”