LINCOLN — The head coach has the dry wit, the even tone and the understated demeanor. Scott Frost may be the biggest name in Nebraska, but he doles out his personality in smaller doses.
Frost’s offensive coordinator, on the other hand, has pep.
Troy Walters walks with it, talks with it and coaches with it. Walters practically leans forward into tasks. Even critiques — NU’s offense started too slow Thursday — sound upbeat. One of his roles is to coach mindset.
“Sometimes it’s hard,” Walters said. “It’s March, it’s the third practice, it’s a Thursday, but you’ve got to treat it like it’s Sept. 3 or 4, and we’re playing Akron in Memorial Stadium.”
In other ways, he’s an atypical offensive coordinator. He won’t call plays — that’s Frost. He won’t coach quarterbacks — that’s Mario Verduzco. Unlike defensive coordinator Erik Chinander, who has broad control of the defense, Walters fits into the structure of Frost’s offense. Walters runs meetings. He helps organize the game plan. He’s in Frost’s ear on game day.
Other offensive assistants see the mind meld between the two of them.
“He’s really the arm of Coach Frost,” tight ends coach Sean Beckton said of Walters. “Coach Frost being the head guy that kind of really calls things, but Coach Walters knows exactly what he wants. If there’s some adjustment, those guys really work together on getting the adjustment and getting it to the rest of the staff. The bond between those two is really unbelievable.”
Offensive line coach Greg Austin said Walters has “heck of a lot of influence.”
“He does a really good job of keeping everybody more or less calm through all the chaos,” Austin said. “Because everybody can kind of get a little animated from time to time.”
The staff, brought whole cloth from Central Florida — which led the nation in scoring last season — is so familiar with Frost and each other, Walters said, that they can concentrate on their respective positions. When it’s time to call plays in practice, Walters does that — not using a script — but, otherwise, he doesn’t have to check in much with other assistants. He focuses on the receivers. Frost is able to walk around, observe and adjust where needed.
“We just kind of make it work,” Walters said. “It’s great that all the coaches know what to do so I don’t have to and Coach Frost doesn’t have to micromanage any position. We all know the expectations, we all know the standard.”
And they know the offense. Walters said Frost’s scheme is the best he’s been around — college or pro. He caught passes from Peyton Manning in the NFL. As an assistant coach, he saw pro-style offenses at Texas A&M and North Carolina State, and a spread system at Colorado. Nothing compares, he said, to what Frost did at UCF and hopes to do at Nebraska.
“You can get creative as long as you understand the base, then you can do so many things out of it,” Walters said. “And we’ve got a great staff — coaches who really think outside the box — so every game, it’s a new game plan, and we’re coming up with new ways to be successful.
“It’s not only the best offensive system I’ve been a part of, but the best offensive staff I’ve been a part of. No egos. We know our roles. We want the best for the players we coach.”
Players, in turn, have bought in, Walters said. A 4-8 season can do that. When Walters calls for a 7:30 a.m. meeting, players are there 10 minutes early. Walters has help from senior receiver Stanley Morgan — arguably the team’s best player — setting an example, but Walters echoes a sentiment from his colleagues: This spring has been smoother than their first at UCF.
“We’re better than I thought,” Walters said. “Even though today wasn’t the best, they’ve picked up what we’ve asked them to do. They’re understanding the standards, what we want out of them.”