Discipline, respect and 400-meter repeats: Why a former pupil says Lubick and Frost are 'a perfect fit'

Discipline, respect and 400-meter repeats: Why a former pupil says Lubick and Frost are 'a perfect fit'

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The stuff of legend sometimes turns fuzzy as time passes. Details get lost or the exact recounting changes.

But the feeling typically remains in vivid fashion, as if the experience was as fresh as a north wind on the plains in January. 

That’s the way Dakota Prukop recalls one particular stretch of 2016, shortly after he left Montana State as one of the most prolific Football Championship Subdivision quarterbacks in the country to enroll at Oregon.

It's a germane conversation almost exactly four years later because he was recruited to Eugene by Matt Lubick, who at the time was a brand new offensive coordinator and receivers coach for the Ducks and, as of Friday evening, has the same role at Nebraska. 

Prukop figured himself a pretty darn good athlete — he threw for 5,584 yards and 46 touchdowns (16 interceptions), and added 1,763 rushing yards and 24 more scores, in two seasons at Montana State — and at least an equal competitor.

So when he heard that Lubick, elevated to offensive coordinator that offseason after Scott Frost left to become the head coach at Central Florida, had a standing invitation for anybody to work out with him, he wanted in.

According to an ESPN story, the challenge, which also stood as a penalty if a receiver was late to a meeting or had any other kind of disciplinary issue, was to run 400-meter repeats with Lubick. Prukop said he thinks it was for 21 minutes straight.

“So over that summer I was like, ‘Yeah, I want to do it,’” Prukop told the Journal Star on Saturday morning. “The only guy that had done it and almost hung with him was Devon Allen, and Devon Allen was in the finals for the Olympics for the hurdles.”

Allen told ESPN in 2015 that Lubick is "one of those guys who makes everything a competition.”

Fellow receiver Bralon Addison called him “the most competitive coach I’ve ever been around.”

So then it was Prukop’s turn to try. The result?

“Man, he whooped me,” said Prukop, now a quarterback for the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League. “I loved conditioning and offseason work and I rarely let myself get beat in conditioning, so I’m thinking I’m in the best shape possible, but I definitely was not in endurance shape to hang with him.”

So what does it mean? Nebraska’s new offensive coordinator and receivers coach has a Herculean track workout. Fantastic, but what’s that good for? Prukop contends there’s more to it than a person might think.

“He was all-in and he was doing everything he could to have an edge as a coach, so as a player, that’s really reassuring that, ‘Hey, I’ve got a coach who’s doing all this stuff just because he feels like it will make him a better coach,’ so you’ve got no excuse as a player to do everything you can to be the best player you can be.

“I still think of that. When I’m a coach someday, I want to be the coach that can actually run with the kids. I want to be able to do that, and I got that from Lubick. It makes you respect the guy a lot more.”

Prukop initially was recruited by Frost from MSU to Oregon, but then Frost took the UCF job. Lubick took over as his primary recruiter and point person at the school along with Mark Helfrich, who was his position coach as well as the head coach.

Prukop had extensive day-to-day contact with Lubick, though, considering Lubick was the offensive coordinator and passing game coordinator. He ran the offensive meetings, talked game plan and, according to Prukop, called a good chunk of the plays even though Helfrich had the primary duty.

“He’s a hands-on guy. He’s very personable, the receivers will like him,” Prukop said. “He’s a receivers coach that will get to know his receivers on a personal level and have their backs. One thing I always remember about him is he’s a really, really disciplined guy and a really, really hard worker.

“He’s a great model and example. He practices what he preaches.”

And he’s got a rapport with Frost that Prukop heard a lot about even if he didn’t see it firsthand.

“I just remember from talking to the players and even during the initial recruitment and talking with (former Oregon quarterback) Vernon Adams before that, Frost and Lubick were really a powerhouse offensive team,” he said. “I think Frost has a really good understanding of the entire offense and (making) the pass game and run game working together. But I know that Lubick was a huge help to him as the receivers coach and kind of the pass-game coordinator.

“Lubick is a really, really smart dude, really good at figuring out how to attack defenses through the air.”

His work will be cut out for him in Lincoln, where eight of Nebraska’s 11 scholarship wide receivers will be freshmen or sophomores for the 2020 season. Senior JD Spielman and sophomore Wan’Dale Robinson are the only returning consistent threats.

There is size inbound and talent, too, but it’s clear that the passing game needs work, as does the offense as a whole.

Prukop says he still feels bad that the 2016 season in Eugene didn’t go better — a 4-8 campaign included a 35-32 loss to the Huskers at Memorial Stadium — mostly because he felt like he let Lubick and his teammates down.

“When you sign up for the quarterback position, you’re signing up to win games for your team,” he said. “People say it’s a team sport and all that, but you’re the quarterback, if you don’t win, it’s on you. If you win, it’s on you. That’s just how the quarterback position is.

“I was bummed that we didn’t have a good season and all that because (Lubick) was a great dude, he worked really hard for it. Football is everything.”

A bright spot for Prukop, then, when a reporter texted him with the news that Lubick was back in the game and, just as importantly, set to be reunited with Frost.

“Man, that’s a perfect fit. I can’t think of a better fit,” Prukop said. “I’m glad to see he’s back in football because the guy knows it, he loves it and that’s his life work.”

Contact the writer at pgabriel@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. On Twitter @HuskerExtraPG.

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