Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Blackshirts Removed As Part Of Nebraska’s ‘Clean Slate’

September 15, 2022

In his first move as Nebraska football coach, Mickey Joseph promoted Mike Cassano to a full-time assistant role. Then came the secondary change. Defensive coordinator Erik Chinander will focus on safeties while assistant Travis Fischer will focus on cornerbacks and nickels.

Then, in perhaps his most ceremonial move, Joseph took the Blackshirts away.

Joseph confirmed the news on Husker Radio Network’s Sports Nightly on Thursday night.

He said it was nothing negative and not about last Saturday’s game against Georgia Southern. It referred more to how every day forward in the Nebraska football program is another day in a new era. It’s a clean slate. The team considers itself 0-0.

“We’re going to practice and we’re going to earn those Blackshirts,” Joseph said. “And I’m confident that they will get them back.”

This will give others an opportunity to earn a Blackshirt.

Host Greg Sharpe and listener questions got to know what to expect out of the Huskers and their head coach during a hectic week.

Joseph said the team has rallied and practiced fast after the strange start to the week. He reiterated the importance of each phase of the game and how the team needs to come together. This is a high-character team, he assured listeners. There’s no room for finger pointing among this team.

“The locker room will not be divided,” Joseph said.

Joseph said he met with the team captains and quarterback Casey Thompson to explain his vision. They understood him and agreed. He said he’ll sometimes get in their face and ask a lot of them in order to get them to play at a high level. In his introductory press conference, Joseph said he wants to be detail-focused and high energy.

Following a defensive performance where the Huskers gave up over 600 yards to Georgia Southern, Joseph said significant changes were made. He wouldn’t go into scheme differences but told listeners, “you’ll see some changes.”

Joseph came into the week saying they’d tackle more in practice. On Thursday he told Sharpe the defense has maintained gap integrity in practice.

Other takeaways:

>> Special teams has been a focus. Joseph said he’s on the same page as special teams coordinator Bill Busch and they want to make that phase more impactful. “The kids are buying in on special teams, they’re excited about special teams,” Joseph said.

>> Joseph called for his team to be more physical going forward. He said he met with the team and told players to bring their own energy. Fans would make Memorial Stadium loud, but that energy needs to be pushed throughout the team.

>> Joseph said he was “sure they’d be shakeups somewhere down the line,” in terms of starting lineup against Oklahoma. He reiterated the team would play hard.

>> Another small change, Joseph said, was team practices are shorter but higher intensity than before.

>> Joseph said team captain Travis Vokolek is still day to day. In his introductory press conference, Joseph said Vokolek and lineback Nick Henrich were still day to day from their injuries suffered against Northwestern in the season opener.

>> Hall of Fame head coach Tom Osborne spoke with Joseph on Monday about his assessment of the team so far. Joseph said his old head coach was “honest” during that meeting.

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