Scott Frost is a recovering bad tackler.
For the first five years of his NFL career, Frost said, he wasn’t very good at tackling opponents. Toward the end of his career, he said he went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and learned the right way to do it.
So he’s “passionate” about teaching it now. The Huskers even had a technique meeting Monday night to cover the topic. Frost believes in aggressive, physical tackles. On the move. Through the ball carrier. Live with the missed tackles and learn from them for next time.
“If you’re going to run through a tackle and be aggressive, you’re going to miss some until you get good at it,” Frost said. “I want guys to continue to make the big hit, the splash play, the impact play. Instead of being afraid to make that play and coming to balance, coming to a stop and giving up yards. We’re going to run through tackles, and the technique’s going to come along as we keep working.”
Frost does not use a tackling consultant. He may not know the story that was the last two seasons at Nebraska, but seasoned Husker fans do.
In 2016, Nebraska paid Atavus $100,000 to use and teach the “Hawk” rugby tackling system to players. The consultant provided specific drills and data to NU coaches suggesting the system had worked, and the Huskers tackled better.
In 2017, then-defensive coordinator Bob Diaco scrapped the system and said players didn’t even know how to tackle. Diaco also said the Hawk system was mandated by NU’s administration, not the coaching staff.
Mark Banker, Diaco’s predecessor as NU’s defensive coordinator, said Diaco was “full of it.” And so it went, a simmering argument between two defensive coordinators from a failed era of Husker football.
Frost said his staff will teach Nebraska players how to tackle. He expressed surprise at the suggestion NU would use a tackling consultant.
“They pay us good money to coach,” Frost said. “If we don’t know what we’re doing, then they probably need a different coach.”
Mike Williams quickly finds home with Huskers after humbling junior college experience
LINCOLN — When you transfer in from Last Chance U, everyone recognizes the logo.
“People find out,” Mike Williams said Tuesday after Nebraska’s practice. “I have a couple of East Mississippi (Community College) jackets and I wear it sometimes and people always ask me, ‘Was I on the show?’”
The smiley 5-foot-10, 175-pound wide receiver wasn’t featured in the famous Netflix documentary about the junior college powerhouse. He missed it by one year.
“But I wasn’t there for that,” Williams said. “I was there to succeed and help the team and get where I wanted to go. Which is here. “
Williams transferred from EMCC to Nebraska this January and is already being mentioned by coaches as a key part of the Huskers’ offense next fall.
Originally from Lake City, Florida, Williams committed to Georgia Southern out of high school. After one season with three catches for 27 yards, Williams decided he needed something new.
“We were doing spring workouts at Georgia Southern,” Williams said. ‘We hadn’t actually started spring ball, and it was just something told me that there was something greater out there for me.”
When East Mississippi found out Williams was thinking about transferring, the school’s recruiting director shot him a direct message on Twitter. A few months later, he was in Scooba, Mississippi.
“Yeah it’s like, really nothing to do,” Williams said of the town in which EMCC is located. “It’s two gas stations and a Subway and a Dollar General. That’s pretty much it.”
But he put up numbers that had Division I schools calling.
En route to a juco national title, Williams caught 30 passes for 669 yards and seven touchdowns during the Lions’ 11-1 season. He led the team in receptions and averaged 23.2 yards per catch.
That got the attention of Nebraska coaches.
On the morning of Jan. 7, one day before Nebraska’s spring semester began, Scott Frost called Williams and offered a scholarship. Three days later, Williams was enrolled on campus.
“It was a quick process,” Williams said. “The day I got here I had to start school the next day, so I got here that Wednesday and I had to start school that Thursday. But right now I have all A’s and one B.”
With Williams, Nebraska adds another offensive weapon to its growing arsenal at wide receiver. He joins Tyjon Lindsey and JD Spielman as receivers who can fill in the slot, or can slip into the Duck-R position, which takes handoffs from the backfield.
So far, Frost has liked what he’s seen.
“Mike came in here and went to work in the weight room,” Frost said. “And today’s the first day — and I think he’s indicative of some other guys — I really saw him start to cut it loose. Instead of having the governor on and not really being sure of where you’re going or how you’re doing it, I saw him just go today and he looked like a different guy.”
Williams feels comfortable in this new system under Frost. It’s a bit faster than the EMCC offense, as is practice. But he likes it. And coaches are already dreaming of what they can do with him.
“Mike reminds me of myself,” offensive coordinator Troy Walters said. “Undersized. Great work ethic. Runs great routes. Has great speed, can catch the ball. We’re going to utilize him in the slot, create mismatches on linebackers and safeties.”
Williams said Mississippi humbled him. You end up leaving junior college appreciating the game more than before, he said. And at Nebraska, he’s ready for another shot.
“Yeah it’s getting better every day,” Williams said. “Nebraska is definitely a special place. I just feel like I connect with the players here better. It’s more of a family atmosphere, of course because of the coaches and the players. Just feels like home.”
Nebraska ‘lucky to have’ Will Honas
LINCOLN — On a day Scott Frost spoke about the importance of sound tackling, it was fitting the Nebraska coach touched on one of the team’s best stoppers.
But there’s one thing Will Honas, the junior college All-American, still needs to work on before lining up as a middle linebacker in an actual game.
“We’re lucky to have Will Honas,” Frost said of the 6-foot-2, 225-pound linebacker who turned down offers from Wisconsin and Iowa, among others. “I love him as a kid and as a player. His biggest challenge, I think, is talking louder. He’s kind of a quiet guy, and he’ll hit you, but we gotta get him running the offense and speaking up and barking out the commands to everybody and being a floor general. Everything else is going to come really natural to him.”
Swarmed by reporters after practice inside the Hawks Center, Honas said adjusting to Nebraska has been a smooth process. Academic support is top notch, he said. He is embracing the greater strength and size and speed of opponents that he didn’t see while logging 96 tackles for Butler (Kansas) Community College last fall.
Battling with incumbent Nebraska inside linebackers like senior Dedrick Young and junior Mohamed Barry has also been rewarding, Honas said. It’s good to be on a level playing field with everyone as they learn the schemes of new defensive coordinator Erik Chinander. It’s even better to get the pads popping again.
“I definitely think just by working hard and showing people how to work, I think I can try to lead by example and do a job of that,” Honas said.
Bell sits out
Running back Greg Bell — who has received unprompted praise from teammates and coaches through four spring practices — sat out workout No. 5 with a back spasm.
One of the top junior college backs in the country last season at Arizona Western, Bell said Tuesday was the worst the spasms have been. He started feeling them Friday but it flared up Monday.
“It never happened before,” Bell said, adding he would be visiting NU trainers after practice. “This is the first time.”
Frost said there is “nothing major” with regard to injuries so far when asked specifically about Bell.
“Sometimes when you push yourself past what you’re used to pushing yourself, your body can break down a little bit,” Frost said. “That’s kind of what’s happening to us right now. I think these guys are working harder than they have in the past. Shoot, if I went out and ran one 400, I’d probably lock up too.”