June is typically the slowest month of the football calendar, but Nebraska's off to a pretty fast start on the news front.
The coaches spent the past two days touring the state, which will feed the news cycle for a while. Then there's the Friday Night Lights camp this Friday. Then there's another one. Throw in a few commits and the Huskers might actually have a newsy June.
One of the notes that jumped out to me on Tuesday was from Jacob Padilla's report on Erik Chinander and Travis Fisher's Fremont stop.
Chinander said this about the work the Huskers have to do in these summer months:
"Developing some depth, developing some leadership, and then like we talk about, throughout the strength and conditioning program, the biggest value for me and I understand completely how adding body weight, body mass, body strength, speed, how all that translates, but the biggest thing for me is the translation of the confidence they gain within the weight room, because then all of a sudden the DBs start breaking on balls, the linebackers start taking shots in the A-gap, the D-line starts throwing guys because they’re confident that, ‘Oh hey, all of a sudden I can squat 550 pounds, I can bench 315 pounds.’ That gives a lot of confidence, so I think what we see in August is going to be directly related to what’s going on in June and July."
Simple statement, but one I'm not sure has come up in an offseason where we've spent a lot of time talking about muscle gained and fat lost, an offseason where seeing things like this has become fairly common:
Best of the day #DeathFromAbove #MrTwitch himself……@IWILLSTILLRISE #Cornhusker #GBR #WardaddyUp pic.twitter.com/5A6J8S4nNa
— Zachary Duval (@zduval1) June 10, 2018
That's defensive back Deontai Williams, a player with one spring of training with Zach Duval under his belt. Here's another one from another player in the same spot, wide receiver Mike Williams.
A Big Bang for your Buck ! @mw_xix #WardaddyUp #LowEnoughYet #Cornhuskers #Twitchy pic.twitter.com/9LwmWxKc9K
— Zachary Duval (@zduval1) June 9, 2018
Both of those guys obviously showed up with plenty of explosiveness on their own, that's part of the reason they're in Lincoln. But anyone can watch those clips and immediately be impressed by the feat, whatever the combination of inherent ability and new instruction it took to get there.
In light of Chinander's comments, however, watch those clips again and consider this: What's the mental impact of being able to do that? What's it feel like to jump so high that your strength coach gives it the hashtag #DeathFromAbove? We talk about Nebraska's eroded edge as the first mover on the strength-and-conditioning front all the time. There was a clear benefit to building superior athletes before anyone else was doing it. But maybe the other half of that equation, the hidden half, was building athletes who knew and felt like they were physically superior.
Maybe that's still the other half even in an age where everyone's posting their conditioning gains on Twitter. Maybe it's still hidden, too.
Anyone can precisely measure muscle gained and fat lost, but the third point on this offseason plane, as Chinander noted, might be just as important: confidence earned.
Injuries Badger Badgers' D-Line
While Nebraska has had a relatively worry-free start to what is typically Bad News Seasons (injuries, departures, etc.), things are a little more typical in Madison.
Wisconsin Head Coach Paul Chryst told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this week that the status of two key players on the defensive line, defensive ends Garrett Rand (Achilles) and Isaiahh Loudermilk (knee), is uncertain for the season ahead.
The loss of Rand and the potential loss of Loudermilk mean defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield will be tested even more than originally anticipated.
UW must replace three senior ends from last season – Alec James, Conor Sheehy and Chikwe Obasih. That trio combined for 88 tackles, including 13 ½ for a loss, last season.
Loudermilk recorded 11 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss in 11 games as a freshman last year. Rand, doing the dirty work inside at nose tackle, had 13 tackles in 13 games.
The Grab Bag
- This is a good read: Nick Saban explains how he indentifies, interviews and selects new coaches (something he's had to do often).
- AD Bill Moos' comments about how the Huskers will celebrate The Game of the Century anniversary made the Norman news cycle.
- Former Illinois quarterback Jeff George Jr. might be heading to Michigan.
- ICYMI: Greg Smith caught up with Nebraska GA Demeitre Brim at last night's Blair stop, and Derek Peterson checked in from Gretna with updates from Greg Austin on the offensive line.
Today's Song of Today
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.