Steven M. Sipple: Assessing where Betts and Huskers’ WR group are without him | Column


Mickey Joseph’s goal is to help his wide receivers maximize their potential.

He coaches the players hard. Very difficult. For that reason, the Nebraska freshman wizard is looking for players who really love the game.

“You can win with kids when they love the game,” Joseph, 54, said in December.

“That means you’re going to do the most, that means it’s never enough,” he said. “When the coach tells you, ‘Good job’, you work even harder. When the coach tells you, ‘Hey, that’s not a good job’, you even double what you need to do to improve. .

“They have to like the game. You’re going to have to like the game to play for me. You’re going to have to like the game to play for Scott (Frost). You’re not going to be able to like that.”

Those comments came to mind Thursday morning as Nebraska’s fifth-year head coach Frost told reporters that talented receiver Zavier Betts “is not on the team at the moment.”

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Sources told the Journal Star that Betts, a Bellevue West sophomore, hasn’t been to practice this week.

Nebraska returned to spring drills Monday after a week off for spring break from college.

Frost declined to say why Betts was not on the team. Sources told the Journal Star that he was not injured and it was in no way a matter of team discipline.

Bellevue West head coach Michael Huffman told the Journal Star: “I don’t know anything more than you.”

As for the possibility of the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Betts joining the team in the future, Frost said, “He’s not on the team. That’s all I’m going to say.”

From what I know, if Betts had wanted to be at Nebraska practice on Thursday, he could have been there.

Mickey Joseph keeps expectations for Husker receivers realistic in early spring

These questions are tricky. It is often difficult to tell exactly what is going on in a young man’s life. No one here is making harsh judgments about Betts.

Considering his situation, remember what he told reporters last August. He said his desire to excel last spring “wasn’t as big and as deep as it should have been. And then over the summer I kind of found ways to ‘improve that.’

If his desire comes and goes, well, you heard what Joseph said.

Bottom line, Betts is a joy to watch the game play. It’s sleek and smooth, with mind-blowing speed. Last season, he caught 20 passes for 286 yards and also had an 83-yard touchdown.

The best days offshore are ahead of him, if he is to continue practicing one of the most demanding sports of all.

Maybe he’ll join the Nebraska team at some point. But you have to wonder, especially given Joseph’s uncompromising approach to training.

Frost also tends towards this type of approach to the game.

Maybe Betts will step into the transfer portal and try to play for a program where the spotlight on him isn’t as bright.

Joseph alluded to the pressure in Nebraska in recent comments.

“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.

If he chooses, Betts could still become an NFL player.

But he still needs to develop his game. In practice.

“I’m just watching the movie from last year,” Joseph said earlier this spring. “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.'”

Again, maybe Betts will eventually return to Big Red’s fold. If that’s what he wants, you hope for the best.

Meanwhile, Nebraska is advancing with what appears to be a group of capable wides led by LSU transfer Trey Palmer and seniors Omar Manning and Oliver Martin. Junior slot man Brody Belt and sophomore Alante Brown both garnered high praise. Wyatt Liewer has significant experience.

Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda, a transfer from New Mexico State, has been limited this spring but will likely be important in the mix.

Don’t rule out a talented redshirt freshman or an actual freshman becoming factors.

“They’re fine,” Frost said of the group as a whole. “There are new things for them to learn. We have new faces and new bodies. You know, I’m really happy with the guys training right now. Again, we have a few guys down there. But it’s a deep band, and Mickey does a really good job with them.

“I’m not concerned about that position at all and I’m looking forward to seeing them continue to improve.”

Joseph will work them hard. This we know for sure.

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