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Steven M. Sipple: Four key takeaways from Frost's Zoom session with reporters
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HUSKER FOOTBALL

Steven M. Sipple: Four key takeaways from Frost's Zoom session with reporters

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Friday Night Lights II, 6.21

Nebraska head coach Scott Frost (center) talks with Husker quarterbacks Adrian Martinez (left) and Luke McCaffrey during a Friday Night Lights camp in 2019.

Four takeaways from Nebraska football coach Scott Frost's Zoom session with reporters Tuesday morning:

1. Frost gave an excellent answer to an excellent question to end the session. The question (paraphrased): Considering everything that's transpired in this nation during the past few weeks in the wake of George Floyd's death in police custody in Minneapolis — and in the wake of subsequent conversations with players and others in the program — what is something Frost feels he's learned? 

The 45-year-old coach said the period in history has given people an opportunity "to examine some of the things we thought we knew but might be naive to." He said anytime something as despicable as what happened in Minneapolis occurs, it gives folks a good reason to reflect.

He then said something that should make Nebraska fans feel confident in the leadership in his program, especially in the context of the times.

"My biggest priority is to make sure that our players are all treated equally, that our players all feel safe in this building — that we're a team that treats everyone the same regardless of where they come from or what they look like," the coach said. 

In discussing recent current events with his players, Frost said, it makes him feel good about the program's environment. He noted a football team is made up of student-athletes from all types of backgrounds and environments. They need to come together and learn about each other, Frost said, "and see the good in one another and work together. 

"Football teams, honestly, are kind of an example of something a lot of other people could follow, and we need to be an example because of our influence here at Nebraska. We try to be."

See the good in one another and respect one another — yes, even if opinions, viewpoints and backgrounds differ. That alone would solve a lot. It wouldn't solve everything, obviously. We're in an immensely complicated period in this country. But it would be a good place to start. 

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2. Nebraska football players reported to campus for voluntary workouts June 1, earlier than all but a few programs nationally. Yes, it could be a competitive advantage for the Huskers. Frost indicated that himself. But there's another key component in this discussion.

That is, Frost's program can't afford to be reckless in its approach to dealing with the coronavirus. I've followed the situation closely as it pertains to Frost's program, and at no point have I felt there was anything that approached recklessness.  

Along those lines: Frost is not asking his players to sign a pledge to follow guidelines and conduct themselves appropriately with regard to COVID-19, as other programs have done. 

"Our guys understand the rules involved with being around," the coach said. "I'd be shocked if there's a team or an organization in sports that's been more careful and followed protocol more strictly than we have."

3. Adrian Martinez definitely has competition in the quarterback room. I've said it before: That's good for everyone involved, most notably Martinez. I'll never quite understand the narrative that the coaching staff will simply hand Martinez the starting job. 

To be sure, Frost's comments about speedster Luke McCaffrey suggest a high degree of confidence in the redshirt freshman. Frost said he has zero concerns about McCaffrey's readiness to compete, praising his work ethic. 

"He spends all his time on football — he's going to be ready," Frost said. "All the reports I'm getting is that he's whipping it around really good and throwing better than anybody's ever seen him throw." 

4. This will be an especially important summer for redshirt freshman offensive tackle Bryce Benhart. But he's not the only redshirt freshman tackle to watch closely in the weeks ahead.  

With Frost dropping the news of senior Matt Farniok's move from right tackle to right guard, it means Nebraska likely is counting on Benhart (6-foot-9, 295 pounds) to win the right tackle job. Frost's comments during the Zoom session indicated the staff is indeed counting on Benhart. But also keep an eye on 6-7, 300-pound Brant Banks. The redshirt freshman from Houston doesn't get mentioned as prominently as Benhart. But during our conversation last November, Frost made it clear Banks has the attention of the coaching staff. 

Anybody who watched Banks' brief appearance with the Husker basketball team last season understands he has a high degree of athleticism for a young man of his stature. So, look for Banks to start out as the top backup behind senior left tackle Brenden Jaimes. But what about left guard? Senior Boe Wilson and junior Trent Hixson each have plenty of starting experience at guard. Junior Broc Bando could be prominent in the mix. But don't count out redshirt freshman Ethan Piper, who may be the best athlete of the bunch.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.

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