New Huskers offensive line coach Greg Austin has a saying about building a bond with his players. He calls it “connection before correction” meaning that you can’t correct a player on the field or in the meeting room without first building a connection and trust. One thing that seems to be a common trait among this staff is the thirst to continue learning, analyzing and getting better.
When asked on Wednesday about what he learned during his time at UCF and if that could be applied to his new job at Nebraska, his answer was eye opening.
“You learn about yourself," Austin said. "You learn about how you should have taught it this way rather than this way. You have the opportunity to go back to your notes and debrief in terms of how you taught it last time, what worked and didn’t work last time, what guys struggled to learn, what took them a longer time to learn. Then as a coach you have to look at what you are doing with your teaching methodologies so that you can go back and say, 'OK, hey, let’s do this better.'
"One of the things that we did do at UCF, and it was a project that we underwent last year, was changing our playbook around. Making it a movement playbook. Most playbooks there are lines going everywhere especially with the offensive line. Now, our playbook is on PowerPoint, now so it’s all animations. Guys can see whatever position they are playing move. In today’s age, it’s all about video games, gaming, etc. It was a big deal for us. That allowed us as a unit to learn the playbook even better and more efficiently. So just stuff like that where you can coach yourself and see where you can get better.”
In my mind, Austin’s desire to find out what makes his guys tick and how they learn speaks to a larger point. This staff is curious and comfortable enough to try new things and savvy enough to implement them once they are identified. Austin says the animated playbook is something brand new to the Husker players that they had never seen before. He elaborated further on the reasoning behind it.
“It’s another teaching tool for you as a coach. You still have your playbook and that’s never going to go anywhere," Austin said. "Now, you have a supplemental device. Maybe this kid learns better by seeing it and seeing the little creatures move, maybe one kid is more of a film learner, maybe one kid needs to see it and step through it. There are so many ways of learning and educating, you have to explore all the ways and find out which way is best for each kid."
Austin’s offensive lineman need to learn the ins and outs of the playbook and we all understand they have to get in better physical condition to play in this offense. After we get past getting your body in shape, what is the next biggest challenge in Austin’s mind?
“The routine. It’s a whole different routine," he said. "These guys were a huddle operation last year. They ran a play, went to huddle, debriefed the play, looked up at the board to see how well or how bad they did, then you got the next call when the receiver came in. Here, it’s run a play then you don’t have time to do anything but get your ass lined back up, get your ass to the sideline and get the signal, look at the defense and go for the next play. So, it’s a totally different routine to them and they’ve adapted to it extremely well. Repetition is what they need and it’s the only way we will be able to drive their wind right? They have to be in shape to get to the peak efficiency of running this offense. They have to do it by reps.”
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.