Scott Frost labors in the shadows of past Nebraska quarterbacks. As he struggles to master a complex offense, Frost knows he will be compared with Tommie Frazier, who left Lincoln last season after establishing himself as one of the best option quarterbacks in history. Watching over Frost is another great Cornhuskers signal-caller from the past, Turner Gill, now the team's quarterbacks coach.
"There are a lot of expectations," says Frost, a 6'3", 215-pound junior who transferred from Stanford after the 1994 season. "People try to compare me to Coach Gill and Tommie Frazier, but I don't care what they say now. What matters is what they say in January."
Gill, for one, is already saying very complimentary things about Frost. "Scott will be more than an adequate replacement for Tommie," he says. "He has all the tools." By tools, Gill is referring to Frost's strong arm (he can throw the ball more than 80 yards), speed (he runs the 40 in 4.61 seconds) and intelligence (he has a 3.69 GPA as a business administration major).
If Frost is all that Gill says he is, then coach Tom Osborne has a good chance of winning an unprecedented third consecutive national title this season. "It would be nice to have a shot at a third one," says Osborne. "We have a good enough team. But realistically, just the fact that you have to win 13 ball games against a tough schedule makes it very difficult."
The Cornhuskers are off to a good start—that is, no players have been arrested so far. The bad apples from last season's team, whose numerous run-ins with the law sullied Nebraska's national title, have exhausted their eligibility, quit school or gone off to the NFL. "Last season was difficult for everyone," says sophomore tailback Ahman Green. "We got ragged on a lot, and some of it was deserved, but this year we're going to show what Nebraska players are really like."
Already, the six-foot, 210-pound Green looks as if he could become one of the finest I-backs ever at Nebraska. He gained 1,086 yards on just 141 attempts (7.7 yards per carry) last season and is looking to better those numbers this year. Three of his linemen return, and the other two projected starters saw considerable playing time last fall, when the Cornhuskers led the nation in rushing with a 399.8 yards-per-game average.
Frost will be the one giving Green the ball. Frost may never make the seas part, as Frazier did while running the option, but he is fast and agile. A football, basketball and track star at Wood River (Neb.) High, Frost started five games at safety and two at quarterback while playing at Stanford in 1994. And Frost has more talented players beside him now. "I feel real comfortable with the offense." he says. "But I'll tell you what. I'm going to feel even more comfortable with that defense on my side."
Osborne might just have his finest defensive team in 24 years as head coach in Lincoln. Seven starters are back from a unit that finished fourth nationally in scoring defense, allowing an average of 13.6 points per game. The front seven includes a trio of All-Americas—weakside linebacker Terrell Farley and ends Jared Tomich and Grant Wistrom—and the biggest middle linebacker in the Big 12 in 6'4", 250-pound senior Jon Hesse. If the defense can outperform last year's unit, a three-peat is possible.