UCF fans are just beginning to get to know new head coach Scott Frost, who comes to the Knights from Oregon where he was extremely successful as the offensive coordinator.
We got together with Joel Gunderson (follow him -- @jgundy85) at the elegantly-named Ducks blog Addicted to Quack to discuss Frost and what Knights fans should expect from him.
1. UCF fans are eager to see someone who can win in-state recruiting battles. How do you view Frost as a recruiter generally? Did he bring in any Florida recruits?
JG: Despite being as far away, geographically, as you can be, Frost actually landed one of the best players out of Florida two years ago - Charles Nelson. Our quarterback, Vernon Adams, has clearly been the MVP - but the best player on the roster, without a doubt, is Nelson. And Frost was the main guy who recruited him.
Part of the reason Frost was so highly regarded as a potential head coach is that players love him. He's young enough to still have cache from his playing days; he's wise enough, having been taught by some of the brightest minds the game has; and he flat-out know how to talk to kids. He was coaching in one of the least fertile recruiting grounds in the country, and still found talent every year. He'll do just fine in Florida. All he needs to run the offense successfully is speed...you guys have that.
2. Obviously Oregon has been very successful offensively with Frost as the OC. How much of that success do you attribute to his influence?
JG: This is the hard question, one which Oregon fans are hotly debating right now. There's still a Chip Kelly-sized cloud hanging over the program here. What that has created is confusion over what the offense is, and whose it is. Clearly, Frost has influenced it. But what has been done - and this is a credit to him - is that the offense has evolved to fit the personnel. When Frost was the receivers coach, and we didn't have a strong quarterback, the offense was run, run, run. When we had a guy by the name of Marcus Mariota at the helm, the playbook was shifted to fit his skills. To say it's all Frost would be misleading, because Oregon a school that takes a little bit from every coach.
Now, one thing to watch for - and I don't want to cause panic - is the trick plays. This season - especially the past two months - there was a huge increase in the amount of trick plays that Oregon ran - and not one of them worked. In fact, in our triple-overtime win at Arizona State, it should have cost us the game. But because Oregon is so tight-lipped, we never got true explanations for why these plays were being called. Boredom? Necessity? We don't know. It didn't feel like Mark Helfrich thing to do, which leaves Frost as the guy in question.
3. It seems at times frost's play calling puzzled Oregon fans. Any specific examples of that come to your mind? Is that a fair concern, do you think?
JG: See above. I mean, it's hard to be critical....Oregon set numerous records with Frost in charge, and even when times were "bad" (by insanely-spoiled Duck fans) the offense was still better than 90% of the country.
Frost thrives when he gets two things: receivers who are willing to block downfield (if that doesn't happen, the offense shuts down); and a quarterback who has the threat to run. He doesn't need a quarterback with 4.4 speed; but if the threat of the run is there, everything opens up.
Frost's play-calling was, really, only in question the second half of this past season. If it was in question before that, it was from a small group who expects Oregon to score on every possession. It's football - other teams are going to stop you from time-to-time. Overall, Frost absolutely knows what he is doing. Did he make some questionable calls this year? Yes. Overall, is it anything to worry about? Not at all.
4. There's always a little uncertainty surrounding a first time head coach. Do you think Frost is ready?
JG: Yes - and I'm going to preface that by saying he's ready for a school like UCF (don't take that the wrong way, and let me explain).
It's no secret that someday, Frost will end up back at Nebraska. He won a title there; he's revered as a hero; and their current coach, Mike Riley (who we all know well around these parts) won't make it long. Frost will be in Lincoln someday. But he's not ready now.
Why is UCF perfect for him? Simple: expectations. UCF has the potential to be a loaded squad, but coming off a 0-12 season, expectations are non-existent. If Frost can come, and in, say, two seasons, turn it around - not unrealistic at all - he'll not only have the experience, but he'll have the respect as a head coach.
Earlier this season, he had a (mini) lash out towards fans. He (correctly) pointed out that most fans who were being critical couldn't even name all 11 positions on the field, and therefore had no reason to be critical. While many agreed with him, that's not something you can do if you're a head coach. Now, he can learn from it.
5. Overall: how'd we do with this hire?
JG: I think it's a home run, honestly. Frost is a star in the making; personality, innovation, energy...he has everything you need to turn around a program. He won't be there long - and that's a good thing for everyone involved. He's going to inject life into the program that wasn't there, even when Blake Bortles was carving up everyone in his path. He has that kind of energy.
His offensive philosophies will fit perfectly with the speed he'll have: open spaces equal lots of points.
In a couple seasons, he'll be the hottest name in the country. When that happens, UCF will be on the map as a destination spot. It's a win-win.