Nebraska Cornhusker defensive coordinator Erik Chinander gives instructions during football practice
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Healthy Competition for Huskers’ Defense Following First Scrimmage of Fall Camp

August 10, 2021

The Huskers’ first scrimmage of fall camp is done and dusted. Nebraska got to work inside Memorial Stadium on Sunday, ending the day with a highlight video on Twitter.

As for how the defense performed on Sunday, defensive coordinator Erik Chinander was pleased (and especially so with his veterans). Chinander thought the Huskers tackled well in the scrimmage and even forced a few turnovers, but the unit was also placed in key situations that allowed the coaches to teach “and get that dialed in.”

“With this older group it’s going to be a little bit more about getting lined up and executing the defense, more about mastering the situation as we move forward,” Chinander said.

Nebraska has nine returning starts on defense, which means fans should expect to see plenty of rotation in the front seven. “I think up front you’ll definitely see some mass substitutions,” Chinander said, referring to the defensive linemen and linebackers. He expects at least 14 different players could see the field in a given game, and the defensive line could push that total even higher.

The Huskers had Monday off from practice following the scrimmage, with Tuesday’s practice then centering around the players behind those returning nine. From defensive lineman Casey Rogers’ perspective, the competition (primarily at d-line) “is as healthy as can be and as fierce as can be.”

Chinander appreciates that the veteran players on his side of the ball are embracing the younger players. It was a common theme on Tuesday, too. From Deontre Thomas to Rogers, the message was clear that the Huskers’ have depth at defense. What that looks like come fall has yet to be determined, but it’s a positive sign for Chinander and the defensive coaches.

More news and notes:

>> Defensive backs coach Travis Fisher felt the secondary did pretty well in the scrimmage.

“I thought we did a lot of great things and then some things we need to work on. as well. I don’t like to give out too much credit right now,” Fisher said. “I think there’s always room to get better but to go out in the stadium the way they did and compete and fly around and have fun it was rewarding to see it.”

>> How many of Fisher’s players does he want on special teams?

“I think everybody in my room should be on special teams,” Fisher said. “If I’m traveling 11 guys, I think 11 guys should be on special teams. I feel pretty good about the guys that we’re gonna have travel. I feel pretty good about those guys playing special teams. That’s all of them.”

Quinton Newsome echoed something similar after practice. He said that he plans to play extensively across special teams this fall, noting that he starts in three different areas of special teams.

>> Thomas said he feels “really good” heading into the new season. He battled a number of injuries in 2020.

>> Defensive line coach Tony Tuioti said that Damion Daniels is having one of his best falls so far at Nebraska. That has included getting in better shape, something Jordon Riley also noted for both Daniels and himself.

>>A lot has stood out about Tyreke Johnson nine days into Nebraska’s fall camp. The transfer from Ohio State has certainly impressed his position coach.

“He’s tough. I mean, he can take the tough coaching,” Fisher said. “He fit right into the room so that was perfect bringing a new guy from a different school into the room. It’s always a little risky especially with older guys and guys that want to play. He jumped right in and the older guys put their arms around him. The culture was set in the room already. It was no slack when it came to that. So now he’s just working and trying to learn the playbook and trying to compete at the same time, which is tough.”

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