Steven M. Sipple: Betts’ off-court maturity improving, says Joseph; and Frost’s role evolves | national


What I know and what I think I know:

When Zavier Betts trots down the field at any Big Ten football stadium, he’s likely to draw double takes from spectators.

He’s a sleek, elite athlete at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds. A glider. He is what a wide receiver should look like in a major college program.

He has a lot of speed and good hands.

Nebraska freshman wide receiver coach Mickey Joseph’s goal is to help Betts maximize his vast potential.

“Zavier has grown a lot, he’s matured a lot,” Joseph said early last week as Nebraska began its spring training season. “Zavier, you know, was an immature kid when I came here. But now he’s grown up. He’s starting to ask questions. He’s starting to understand why he’s here in Nebraska.”

In two seasons at school, Betts has 32 receptions for 417 yards and a touchdown. Last season, the Bellevue West graduate ranked fourth on the team with 20 receptions for 286 yards, receiver Samori Toure (46-898), tight end Austin Allen (38-602) and receiver Omar Manning (26-380).

Toure and Allen left the program in hopes of playing in the NFL, while Manning joined Betts in Nebraska’s wide receivers group.

In discussing Betts, Joseph brings up a point that is not mentioned much here.

“Sometimes being from Nebraska and playing here — being a kid in the state — is quite a pressure,” said Joseph, a Louisiana native who played quarterback at Nebraska from 1988-1991. I want to tell him all the time: Hey, you just have to be Zavier, you just have to play ball. Don’t worry about everything else. I’ll take everything else away from you.

“But it’s not easy. It’s like a kid from Louisiana playing football in the state. It’s not easy for a kid from Nebraska because everyone wants to know why you’re not playing more , when you go do this or that. , and they shoot you. With a kid from out of state, they don’t get all that. Zavier gets shot everywhere because he’s the kid from the state who was a great football player in high school, and the people. I want him to be great football here right now.”

It doesn’t always work that way. Players progress at different rates.

Betts is a great player, Joseph said, but his best days at sea are ahead of him.

Of course, Betts’ best days are only ahead of us if he shakes off the inconsistency that materialized early in his Nebraska career.

“I’m just watching last year’s movie,” Joseph said. “He shows up one week, the next week he doesn’t show up. So now my goal is to get him to be consistent so he shows up every week, and he’s going to give you 100 per cent every week. He must believe in himself.

“It’s about me pulling his confidence, like, ‘Hey, you can do this, you can do this.'”

It’s interesting that Joseph used the word “immature” to describe Betts last season. Immaturity can certainly lead to inconsistency.

But the coach has seen growth in Betts, especially in the way he handles pressure off the pitch.

“He has to put up this wall,” Joseph said. “He has to learn to say, ‘No, I can’t do it, I have to go do it. He does that, and I help him with that, and I think he does a really good job.

“I’m happy where he is right now.”

* Joseph explained how Nebraska head coach Scott Frost’s role is changing now that he has Mark Whipple in charge of the offense.

Yes, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Whipple is essentially running the show on that side of the ball, perhaps allowing Frost to think about his agenda more broadly.

“He’s doing a great job just being CEO right now and letting us run things on offense,” said Joseph, who also holds the titles of associate head coach and passing game coordinator. “It’s not that he has no more pressure, but now he can get along with the whole team. He can get along with the defence, he can get along with the kickers, he can get along with the kickers. get along with the snappers.

“He can be the CEO he wants to be.”

Joseph noted that GMs make the final decisions on just about everything. That’s the job.

“You have to be in tune with everything that’s going on,” Joseph said. “Scott understands that. I think that’s what he’s doing right now, figuring out everything that’s going on.”

* Frost’s decision in the fall of 2018 to have Cam Jurgens start training at center seems increasingly wise.

The former Husker certainly raised eyebrows last week at the NFL Scouting Combine.

The 6-foot-3 Jurgens tipped the scales at 303 pounds and still ran the 40 in 4.92 seconds, one of the best times among offensive linemen.

It’s easy to forget that Jurgens came to Nebraska on a tight end. He occasionally played as a running back for Beatrice High School.

In other words, he’s still relatively young at center.

The NFL Draft is scheduled for April 28-30 at Allegiant Stadium, home of the Las Vegas Raiders. Some showings have Jurgens in the third round.

Go back to the fall of 2018 when Frost insisted on changing Jurgens’ position. The coach was on target during this call.

* Sometimes you have to be patient with Nebraska baseball early in the season.

The Huskers (4-7) definitely relieved themselves by winning three of the weekend’s four games.

Nebraska opens its home schedule this weekend against Long Beach State, which went 3-6 in Sunday’s game against North Dakota State.

A high of 24 degrees is forecast for Friday in Lincoln.

Enjoy it, Dirtbags.

* Yes, Long Beach State’s nickname is “Dirtbags” for baseball.

That’s a story for another day.


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