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nebraska huskers assistant coach greg austin
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Austin Impressed by Huskers’ Young O-Linemen, but Northwestern Presents New Challenge

November 04, 2020
Redshirt freshman Ethan Piper got a little playing time for Nebraska against Ohio State in Week 1. He came in at left guard for Boe Wilson for a couple of series early in the second quarter.

He wasn’t the only young offensive lineman on the field that day—Bryce Benhart manned right tackle—and offensive line coach Greg Austin walked away pleased with how his group held up against the Buckeyes.

“The young guys’ response to it was good,” Austin said on Wednesday.

Austin described Piper as “an athlete” and credited his size. He’s listed at 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds on Nebraska’s roster. Benhart is listed at 6-foot-9 and 330 pounds. That size is crucial too, and exactly what Austin wants from his line.

That means the Huskers will continue to recruit the bigger and longer players. Austin joked he wouldn’t even recruit himself at this point—he was listed at 6-foot-1 as a player for Nebraska—and that he’s looking for those bigger guys. It’s an objective measure, according to Austin.

As for Saturday’s matchup with Northwestern, Austin expects another challenge with the Wildcat defensive line. He described the Northwestern defensive front as “gap disciplined.” He also said the Wildcats don’t get out of position in defending the run. That will take a lot of discipline from the Huskers on the other side.

“They’re a pretty strong and stout front against whomever they play,” he said.

If Nebraska’s performance against Ohio State is any indication, Austin feels pretty good about where is group is headed.

More news and notes: 

>> It wasn’t ideal to have a game canceled, but Austin said it might turn out to be a good thing for Nebraska. There hasn’t been this “big wave of infections” inside the team in recent weeks and the Huskers have had a lot of self-discipline and professionalism through this time.

>> Austin said true freshman Turner Corcoran is “certainly an arrow-up guy” who loves to be coached. He also noted that Corcoran “can take constructive criticism really well.”

>> Is defensive coordinator Erik Chinander surprised by freshman defensive back Isaac Gifford? He doesn’t think so.

“Isaac is more athletic than he gets credit for and he really understands football,” he said.

>> Chinander noted that Deontai Williams’ shoulder—which he injured in 2019—”is at 100%” now and the senior safety is “playing free.”

As for the targeting call against Williams, Chinander said he plans to talk to some Big Ten officials to understand how he could have tackled differently. Chinander wants to keep the game safe, but wants to understand what officials would recommend.

>> Defensive backs coach Travis Fisher isn’t too worried to be without Willians and Cam Taylor-Britt in the first half against Northwestern. There’s a reason for that.

“Whoever’s in the game are starters in my eyes,” he said.

>> Fisher said junior college defensive back  Nadab Joseph is coming along in practice. Joseph wasn’t on the travel roster for Ohio State, but he might be for Northwestern. Fisher said he’s working to get up to speed.

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