Nebraska special teams coordinator Bill Busch wants his players to act similarly to how he acted at a Garth Brooks concert last year.
Busch said Monday that he sat right up front at the concert with his wife, and was singing and clapping throughout. However, he noticed a couple close by that acted in a completely different manner — just sitting down and watching the concert.
He used that analogy with his players to get across what’s expected from them on a day-to-day basis.
“Don’t confuse attendance with accomplishment,” Busch said. “Just attending this meeting, just attending practices, attending the drill doesn’t mean anything. You have to accomplish, like that.”
It’s key to have players invested, Busch said, and that’s what he aims to do in his first year as the full-time special teams coordinator. Last year, he was a defensive analyst, and wasn’t able to be on the field coaching due to that status.
That’s changed now, and Busch will look to help make more change in the special teams department after a lackluster 2021 season. The Huskers only made half of their field goal attempts and had plenty of other notable special teams mishaps.
Busch wasn’t interested in talking about that much, however.
“We have an entire different team playing. So I don’t ever go back, and we’ll do some teaching things off of last year and some certain clips like that, but there will never be one time out of my mouth, ‘Remember last year,’” he said. “Last year is over and I’m not dealing with that at all. That’s been kind of the theme from the head coach on down.”
As far as preparing for next season goes, Busch believes in the team’s investment and expects success. He’s not ruling out anyone from contributing on special teams, regardless of position or place on the depth chart. He said that even quarterback Matt Masker contributed in kickoff coverage during practice.
“The best player for that spot has to be able to play and sometimes those are LRPs, limited role players which have starting abilities,” Busch said. “And also having starters. The only way you have culture on your team is your best players have to be your hardest workers period.”
Busch talked about all aspects of special teams on Monday, but a point of interest was the return game. Nebraska attempted to return less than 10 punts last year, with the first of the year resulting in a safety. That’s another area Busch places a high value on.
“Basically it goes, my wife, my daughters and the punt returner. That’s my favorite people in the world,” Busch said. “It takes a real dude to stand back there with his chin up in the air and guys running at you to try to knock you out.”
Busch said that the team has to block well enough for the returner to get started, but the returner also has to force “at least two missed tackles” on his own to create a big play. Today though, the team just focused on tracking the ball.
Junior Trey Palmer, sophomore Tommi Hill, senior Oliver Martin and junior Brody Belt were players Busch mentioned as having the potential to return some kicks next season. Palmer specifically is expected to contribute, as he returned 23 punts for 188 yards and a touchdown and took 15 kickoffs for 394 yards and a touchdown at LSU.
Busch was at LSU prior to joining Nebraska with Palmer, and had high praise for him.
“Things go very easily for Trey. He can just run, he’s very natural,” Busch said. “First day going through our morning 6 AM workout, he’s just killing every drill, boom, boom, boom, boom. It’s just things in that aspect come very easy for him out there.”
Along with having experience with Palmer, Busch also had the chance to be part of a championship team while he was the Tigers’ safeties coach. At the end of the day, he wants to help bring that level of success back to Nebraska.
“Things haven’t been great, and I know how great it can be,” Busch said. “So I’m excited to see it take off.”