Last season, Nebraska football was not very fun. It wasn’t fun for the coaching staff, which was eventually let go, or the players who were part of one of the worst teams in school history. I don’t mention that to rub salt in the wound, but Scott Frost and his staff inherited a 4-8 mindset more than they did a 4-8 caliber football team.
When you ultimately want to change a mindset of a team and instill confidence that must be rebuilt, it is a long process. It won’t take one spring of practices, and there won’t be a news alert saying the team has regained its confidence or swag. One group that is actively trying to working on developing a different mindset is the linebacker unit. On Tuesday, Mo Barry was asked about how the unit is progressing this spring.
“It’s going good. Right now, we are just focused on our mentality as a group," he said. "We are trying to find ourselves as a dominant linebacking corps. That’s the main goal right now, to get the technique coach [Barrett] Ruud is trying to teach us and be a dominant linebacker group. So, any linebacker going in can follow that.
"Coach Ruud has been great. He’s just real calm and wants our linebackers to have that mentality. You can’t play this position without that dominant mentality. He understands that and that’s first and foremost. We have to strike. We have to go and know our assignments.”
Now having gone through a couple of spring games, Barry is looking forward to knocking off the rust and getting a step closer to the real action in the fall. He says that the dominant mentality is starting to take over and that would be the biggest area of improvement for the defense this spring. Still, he knows that the fans want to see consistent effort. One thing that is being ingrained into this defense is creating turnovers.
“You feel like more of a savage. That’s what [defensive coordinator Erik Chinander] makes us feel like when he has us going after the ball. He says 'OK, the play is not done just because you made the tackle, you have to do more.' He’s setting the standard for us. We have to get turnovers, we have to go after the ball. Sometimes it’s going to be luck and sometimes it’s going to be technique and skill. You have to get it. You feel like the play is never done, even in practice. If someone tags someone off, you still run like a savage after the ball carrier. Sometimes I just want to throw the offensive player and go get the ball."
Barry says the new mentality and attacking defense has definitely helped him as a player. Husker Nation will get its first look at how this mentality is affecting the team on Saturday, but we will know a lot more September 1 against Akron. One thing is for sure; the seeds are being planted to overcome the 4-8 mindset that plagued the team last season.
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.