Casey Thompson will start as quarterback for Nebraska’s season opener in Ireland, NU coach Scott Frost announced on his monthly radio show Thursday night.
“Casey will be the guy,” Frost said on the Huskers Radio Network while complimenting the other four grantee QBs on the list, including backup Chubba Purdy and Logan Smothers. Frost said he “won’t be surprised” if more than one plays.
But it’s the high-profile transfer from Texas who will get their first overseas representative against Northwestern.
Thompson threw 24 touchdowns for the Longhorns last season. He’s the most experienced QB on the roster, and he’s come out on top since arriving at spring camp. His accuracy and speed improved after surgery on his hand that summer; Thompson played the last half of UT’s season with a torn ligament.
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“There’s no substitute for having played a lot of college football and he’s made fewer mistakes,” Frost said. “It was really a big jump from Spring Ball to Fall and I think that thumb probably bothered him more than he cared to admit. He throws it much better now in the fall. He threw it well in the spring but now he has a lot of momentum.”
In the meantime, Frost said, Nebraska will announce to the team and the public on Saturday which defenders will be awarded blackshirts. The program will also unveil its four chosen captains on the day – the vote has already taken place but the results will not be announced to the team and everyone else until the weekend.
“Four guys got the most votes,” Frost said. “You picked four good ones.”
The blackshirt number will likely be lower initially, Frost said. Defensive coordinator Erik Chinander doesn’t want to lend players who haven’t appeared as huskers in a game yet – “If they do what they’re supposed to do at the beginning of the year, I’m sure there will be more to come,” Frost said.
Additional notes from Frost’s radio appearance:
* Offensive line coach Donovan Raiola is training his position group intensively, Frost said. To the point where he estimates there’s 15-20 vomit from these linemen every workout.
“It’s not because they’re out of shape — he’s just training them hard,” Frost said. “I think they love it. He kind of freed them to be aggressive and I love how they come off the ball.
* Texas transferee Marcus Washington has made a strong offseason impression on Frost with elite hands, strong blocks, and steady contributions to special teams.
“He’s even better than I was hoping for,” Frost said. ‘He came in and went to work. … He’s going to be a big part of what we do.”
* NU’s running back squad is “the best since I’ve been here,” Frost said. Jaquez Yant, Gabe Ervin, Anthony Grant, Ajay Allen, Rahmir Johnson and Emmett Johnson all received individual compliments. The coaches will likely decide on the transfer week by week.
* Transfer defender Brandon Moore will play a role in the team despite his late arrival last week, Frost said. Moore, a multiple transfer, was at UCF with Frost.
“I’m happy to help him and give him another chance,” Frost said. “I had hopes that he might be able to help and now that I’ve seen him I think he will.”
* The second Sunday of scrimmage was better than the first earlier in the month, Frost said. There were also some surprises. The intensity was so good that the coaches reduced the number of full tackle reps because everything looked good.
* Tight end Thomas Fidone will be unavailable for the start of the season with injury but “is progressing very well,” Frost said. “He is hungry.” While Travis Vokolek is the clear No. 1 in the end, Frost added that Nate Boerkircher and Chancellor Brewington “are going to be really good in their roles.”
* A full-time special teams coordinator is “much needed,” Frost said, and Bill Busch has filled the role well this offseason.
“He’s able to focus 100% of the time on getting people involved and investing in it,” Frost said. “We kind of broke it up before and it was a bit piecemeal. The lads did a good job and we were solid, but there’s just more to it when you have someone who is fully committed to it.”
* Nebraska will tour everyone on its 110-man fall roster, plus eight or nine other players who stepped in from injuries, Frost said. The team is still deciding which 74 players will compete for the Big Ten Conference game.
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