Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Erik Chinander: Defense In Opener ‘Wasn’t Up To Our Standard’

August 31, 2022

Film review proved what Nebraska defensive coordinator Erik Chinander knew leaving Aviva Stadium last Saturday. The Husker defense simply wasn’t good enough.

Sure, there were new faces on the field, transfers and first-time starters. But five days after the Huskers gave up 528 total yards to Northwestern, and 14 unanswered points that clinched a come-from-behind win, Chinander said it plainly.

“I don’t care who’s in the game, it wasn’t up to our standard,” he said after Wednesday’s practice. “But I also understand that we had a lot of new faces in there, some untimely mistakes happened that you wish you had an NFL preseason where you had another game to get those kinks worked out but we didn’t.

“We can’t make that as an excuse,” he said. “We knew what we had to do. We had a job to do, ultimately, we didn’t get it done.”

They had a job to do. Team captain Caleb Tannor stressed that same thing during Tuesday’s press conference. Tannor acknowledged the season-opening loss was especially hard. But there was no use sulking. They had to get back to work.

This week the former “hot mess” turned team captain said he took full responsibility, as a leader, for not beating Northwestern.

“When we win it’s going to fall back on the captains, when we lose it’s gonna fall back on the captains,” he said. “Like I said, I take full responsibility for not getting my guys prepared for what was to come. Now we’re here to work, get better and this is a new week.”

Tannor’s comments brought a mixed reaction from Chinander. After all, one player isn’t solely responsible for mistakes and it’s a team game. But he liked the team captain stepping forward. He also liked Tannor working to correct those mistakes in practice with a contagious energy.

Chinander said mental mistakes and blown coverages are being addressed. As is tackling. Head coach Scott Frost, defensive back Quinton Newsome and Tannor all said during Tuesday’s press conference that tackling could be improved. Chinander quickly discussed tackling on Wednesday.

“Few missed tackles that we need to clean up,” Chinander said. “Had a few missed ones that cost us some yardage. Couple missed assignments, mental errors, whatever, at all levels of defense throughout the game that cost us some yardage again.”

The defensive coordinator then took ownership, not unlike Tannor a day earlier.

“Those are the things that I have to clean up,” Chinander said. “That’s on me to get fixed and I will get those fixed.”

Defensive effort on Saturday satisfied Chinander. He said he likes the unit’s drive and character. That’s why he still believes this could be a great team and a great defense.

Freshman linebacker and Columbus native Ernest Hausmann earned the trust of defensive coaches. Chinander highlighted his growth and potential on Wednesday. Sophomore safety Myles Farmer also got a shoutout. Defensive personnel hasn’t been set in stone and Chinander stressed the importance of a “next man up” mentality. Offensive coordinator Mark Whipple also said the offense was a work in progress and reps for skill position personnel would likely change.

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