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Steven M. Sipple, Parker Gabriel and Chris Basnett go deep on a Red-White Spring Game preview, what can be learned from the scrimmage and what's already been gleaned from spring ball. Plus, a preview of the recruiting weekend, a big home series for baseball and whether Sipple gets to drive the bulldozer at Friday's groundbreaking ceremony on NU's football facility project. 

Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos thinks he has a good feel for Scott Frost’s team, and for where the football program is headed.

But let’s be clear: Moos is far from being a regular at practice. He generally attends only if he feels there are significant issues to monitor.

Guess it’s a good sign he hasn’t come around much lately.

“I may stick my head in once in a while,” he says. “But if I have time to be going to practices, I’m not getting my job done.”

Let’s also be clear on this, though: Moos’ job Saturday will include locking in hard on the action in the Red-White Spring Game.

Yes, it’s only a practice. But there’s a certain seriousness to this day — it’s Nebraska football, after all — and we all know there’s some seriousness to the fall season ahead.

“People who know me and have been around me — not just here but throughout my career — know I’m a football guy and I want to watch the game,” Moos told the Journal Star. “It’s not like in a normal situation I’m going to be rude to guests. But once the action starts, that’s my evaluation period.”

The 70-year-old is definitely "a football guy." He played the sport at a high level at Washington State. He pays attention to the national scene. He's a history buff of sorts. He took over at Nebraska in late 2017 hoping it would become a major player on the national scene during his tenure. We all know where that conversation stands. Frost is 12-20. Enough said.

Actually, it seems there’s never enough said around here.

By the way, Nebraska fans this week got a good idea about Moos' expectations for the program. He touched on the subject Tuesday on "Husker Sports Nightly." Yes, he said, NU faces a very tough schedule. Even so, he said “it would be great” to get into the eight- to nine-win range and get back into the conference championship picture.

It’s a realistic expectation, he said.

He also emphasized the importance of Nebraska winning at home. 

In a sense, he turned up the urgency a notch or two.

So, we know the context in which he’ll be watching Saturday.

“I can tell real fast, honestly, if we’ve got the mojo, if we’ve got the talent, if we’re coached properly, all those things,” Moos told the Journal Star. “I can determine that in one quarter and much more as the game goes on.”

Saturday represents the culmination of Nebraska’s spring practice, something it didn’t even have last year, for obvious reasons.

One notable development? Only the second half of the Red-White Spring Game will feature live tackling.

“I’m predicting it’ll be a real good show for the fans,” says Moos, who’ll watch the action from a suite in West Stadium along with his security man, Patrick Kelly.

If there are any other people in the suite, there won’t be many, he says.

Moos then chuckled, recalling stadium projects he headed up at Oregon and Washington State.

“I always had the AD suite placed on one of the ends (of the stadium), in part because it’s prime real estate in the middle and you get top dollar for those ones,” he says.

There’s another reason he placed the AD suite on one end of the stadium.

He always wanted an escape plan.

“I had them designed with an escape door,” he says. “If the guests were getting heated and pissed off, I had a way to nice and quietly get the hell out of there.”

“In Oregon,” he adds, “it bled out to a cigar port, and I could hide myself back there. Then, when I did the one at Washington State, I was really cagey because I knew building that program was going to be a challenge. I could go up to the camera deck right above my suite and watch from up there. For the first five years, I was up there most of the time.”

He doesn’t have an escape door in Memorial Stadium.

“I’m locked in there,” he says with a smile.

Don’t get it wrong. He doesn’t feel the need for an escape plan. He seems to genuinely like the direction in which Frost’s program is headed.

As for his comments earlier this week, remember that Moos is a salesman. A damned good salesman. You don’t think he was trying to sell tickets? Of course he was. The sellout streak continuing is no longer a given.

You don’t think he had fundraising in mind? You don’t think he had Frost’s players in mind? What would those players think if the AD said something along the lines of, “We just really hope to get to six wins this year.”

He said that a couple of years ago. Now, he wants to see more progress. Most Nebraska fans obviously want the same.

As for what he wants to see Saturday, he says, “I would think we’re going to see a lot of happy people. When I say that, I mean players, coaches, staff and fans, just because we’ve missed it so much.”

You can say that again.

“I think we’ll have a crowd that’s obedient and comply with the rules we’ve set,” he says. “But I really think we’re going to hear the crowd and feel the crowd, even if we’re at 50% (capacity) or lower. I think it’ll be something that will really resonate with our players, especially.”

Moos came to Nebraska for big games. For colossal Saturdays filled with meaning. It feels like 2021 will have ample meaning for Frost and company, one way or another.

Saturday will feel pretty significant in its own right, even though it’s only a practice. It’s certainly a day to celebrate. A day for which to be thankful.

No escape door necessary.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.

This article originally ran on journalstar.com.

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