Nebraska's Tommie Frazier, one of 1,400 former college football greats who are featured in EA Sports' new NCAA Football 14 video game, said this week that he likes what he sees of the dual-threat quarterbacks in today's game.
Frazier told Bleacher Report that he sees a lot of similarities between the zone-read spread offense being run today and the option offense he ran in leading Nebraska to national championships in 1994 and 1995.
"The only difference is that they're doing it from the shotgun, and we did it from under center,'' he said. "But if you look at the blocking schemes and the things they do, it's basically the same offense.''
Frazier, a 2013 inductee in the College Football Hall of Fame, has been involved with EA Sports for years and and was even featured on the cover of College Football USA 97. In the new video game, which was released on July 9, he is part of the Ultimate Team competition, which his Nebraska team won.
In a wide-ranging interview, Frazier also discussed current Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez's chances to win the Heisman, said he's not sold on Ohio State as the automatic choice to win the Big Ten and said current Heisman Johnny Manziel has drawn too much attention to himself this offseason.
Bleacher Report: Congratulations. Your alma matter Nebraska was named EA Sports' College Football’s Ultimate Team. That’s quite an accomplishment when you consider that other powerhouse programs such as Alabama, Ohio State and Miami were included.
Tommie Frazier: That's a big honor, and there's been a lot of great programs over the last 25 years. To have the University of Nebraska win that competition speaks volumes of the program and the tradition that we have there.
B/R: There's a Heisman version of yourself that fans can play with in the game. That has to be pretty scary, considering how effective you were on the field.
TF: It's a great opportunity for fans who feel I should have won the award (1995) to build me up and actually win the Heisman. There's a Heisman card that you can download on the game, and it's one of those deals that make me unstoppable.
B/R: There's a special Heisman card that will be given to fans who log into EA's Ultimate Team from August 16 to the 22nd. What does the card do and why should fans be excited?
TF: It gives the fans the opportunity to download and play with me. Whether it's for Nebraska or putting me with other players such as Barry Sanders, Ndamukong Suh, Ahman Green, Reggie Wayne or even Percy Harvin. And anyone who purchases the game from the 16th through the 22nd will get that card for free.
B/R: Likely the only individual accomplishment that can compare to the Heisman is being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. You are a part of this year's class. Is that the greatest achievement of your career?
TF: That's the biggest achievement for anyone's career when they get inducted into a Hall of Fame, because it shows that you are the best of the best. There's less than two percent of college football players in the game's history to enter the Hall of Fame. That trumps any individual award that you can get.
B/R: What are your thoughts on current Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez, and does he have the potential to go down as one of the greats?
TF: Taylor is a fine quarterback, and he has improved over the years. It's not for me to say if he can go down as a great or not because I look at the position totally different. Everything is based off if you win championships and if you win games. If you do those two things, people will compare you to the greatest.
My goals and dreams for Taylor are to go out there and do the best he can, help the team win and play for the Big Ten Championship. If they do that, hopefully, Nebraska will play for a national championship.
B/R: Some have Martinez as a Heisman candidate. Can he become the first Nebraska player since Eric Crouch in 2001 to win the award?
TF: He has the ability, but it's not going to be all on him. He has to have a defense that plays well and also an offense that plays well. He's not going to win it by himself.
B/R: That defense must improve. Those last two games weren't pretty.
TF: That defense didn't play well last season. They know that, and they'll be out there to show people that they are a better defense than what people saw last year.
B/R: What do you think about today's running quarterbacks such as Johnny Manziel and Braxton Miller, and are there any major differences for quarterbacks today than when you were playing?
TF: I like those guys, and I like any dual-threat quarterback, even Marcus Mariota in Oregon. Those guys make it a lot tougher for defenses to defend, especially when you put them in a zone-read spread offense running out of the shotgun.
B/R: Are you a believer in the hurry-up and up-tempo offenses? Some coaches in the SEC don't agree with it and think it's bad for the game.
TF: I don't agree with that, but everyone has their opinion. What I do know is that the more plays an offense can run, the weaker a defense gets. And if you can condition your players and get a tempo set, then that's an advantage, because it stops a defense from attacking you the way they want.
B/R: The media back then wasn't nearly as relentless as it is today. You look at Manziel and see nearly every move he makes being scrutinized. Would you have had trouble handling that intense a spotlight?
TF: You have to put yourself in the right situation and the right position. You have to put yourself in a position where you don't draw attention to yourself, and in my opinion, he hasn't done a good job of that this offseason. Hopefully, after everything is said and done, he can realize that he could have done things a lot different.
B/R: What are your expectations for this year's Nebraska's team? Is there a chance for a Big Ten title or is Ohio State too strong?
TF: Any team has a chance to make a run if everything plays in the right direction. I don't think Ohio State is as strong as everybody thinks, because they lost some guys and each year's different. If Nebraska goes out and wins the games that's on their schedule, and gives themselves an opportunity, as you saw last year, anything can happen.
Nobody expected Wisconsin to beat Nebraska the way they did [in the Big Ten Championship Game]. I didn't expect that, and I know Wisconsin didn't expect that. The ultimate goal is to get to that game, and whatever happens after that, happens.
B/R: So it's not Ohio State and everybody else?
TF: Based on Ohio State last year and Urban Meyer's first year, everyone is saying they're the team to beat, which they should. But guess what? Penn State is going to be a better football team than they were last year, Michigan is going to be competitive and don't count out Wisconsin, they're going to be competitive.
There's still four or five teams that can legitimately say that they have a chance to win the Big Ten Championship.
B/R: What's your prediction for the national championship?
TF: I don't make predictions. Things happen throughout the season. If you wait about six weeks into the season to ask that question, then you'll have a clear-cut picture of what things are going to be like. There's a lot of teams right now. Texas A&M could win a championship. They have a fine team, but you don't know what's going to happen with the quarterback situation.
I don't make predictions this early. I have to wait until half the season, then I'll make my prediction.
Note: Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.
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