Bob Diaco’s defense is prepared to practice hard for the length
of time that is expected from the head football coach.
Diaco’s words. The Huskers new defensive coordinator isn’t
about moral victories after a summer program that was as tough as many on the
team can remember. The defense has undergone a culture shift under Diaco nearly
as drastic as the schematic shift from a 4-3 to the 3-4. For Diaco and the
Huskers moving forward, it’s about taking things one drill, one call and one
day at a time.
“We don’t fly at 40,000 feet, we’re not a big-picture group,”
Diaco said. “There’s a great buy in from everyone in the organization, on the
team and in the unit.”
From the safeties up to the line, they’re starting to “understand
the language” and starting to develop the habits of what Diaco wants them to
“We understand what the expectations are,” he said. “They
stayed focused, they come to the meetings prepared and they’re able for the
most part – the veteran players – to translate that information from the
meeting to the field.”
And while Diaco seems pleased with what he’s seen so far,
there are still areas that need to be figured out. Take corner for example.
“Everyone is at a different developmental phase. Chris
(Jones) defended almost 500 passes last year,” Diaco said of his secondary
minus the star corner. “We just finished practice three and there’s a lot to
still do and evaluate.”
That doesn’t mean he’s not confident.
“I’m not sure how many (passes) Lamar (Jackson) defended or
Eric (Lee) or Dicaprio Bootle or any of those guys, but they’re confident, they’re
excited, they’re trying hard and we’re going to have ultimate faith in them,”
he said. “Next man in.”
Jones’ injury and the Huskers’ youth at the cornerback spot
hasn’t put a major dampener on how Diaco views his defense, though, because he’s
got what he considers to be a star in the making at his quarterback spot.
“The safeties are really premiere positions in our defense,”
he said. “Joshua Kalu could play a myriad of different positions really, really
well…We all collectively believe that safety is his natural position. We
believe that from an evaluation standpoint, and a future standpoint, he would
be a very good corner, maybe even a great corner, but in my mind, there is no
doubt that he is and/or will be one of the best safeties in the country, if not
the very best safety in the country.”
Diaco said that when Kalu or Aaron Williams, Nebraska’s
other veteran safety, speaks, the team listens, that their presence and
leadership has been important in the coming together of the defense as a whole.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.