It looks as though Dee Liner will be D-lining this week for Arkansas State. The senior was listed atop the Red Wolves’ depth chart at defensive tackle on Monday, but a fall-camp groin injury left his status for Saturday in doubt.
That doubt appears to be dissipating. From a report by Brooks Kubena of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:
"It's going to be a game-time decision," said Anderson, indicating he's 90 percent to 95 percent sure Liner will play a good bit. "He's gotten better every day. Physically, he did a lot more today than he did yesterday, and he hasn't had any setbacks. Every day we pushed him a little bit further, and he'd come back the next day and he's fine."
Defensive coordinator Joe Cauthen said Monday that stopping Nebraska's run game will be a major factor, and Liner's size and experience would counter a larger Nebraska offensive line.
Liner’s story is an interesting one. He was one of the top five defensive tackles in the 2013 recruiting class and picked Alabama in a live signing-day announcement on ESPNU. He was that kind of player at Muscle Shoals High School. But over two years with the Tide, Liner appeared in just four games and made three tackles before transferring to Arkansas State.
Last season was his first playing for the Red Wolves, and that too got off to something of a slow start. Liner recorded five assisted tackles and one tackle for loss in Arkansas State’s first three games last year, but a switch seemed to flip in week four against Central Arkansas. He made a solo tackle, just the third of his four-year college career at that point, and recorded his first TFL. Liner finished the year with 34 total tackles and eight TFLs. While the buzz around Liner doesn’t approach what it was when he was a high school senior, there is at least some buzz back.
And his presence in this game could be significant. Not only is Liner (6-3, 337) a run-stopping load to handle, he gives Nebraska’s offensive line someone else to game plan around. While Ja’Von Rolland-Jones has clearly earned all of the praise coming his way as one of the best pure pass rushers in the country, his partner in sacks last year — Chris Odom, 12.5 sacks — is gone. Rolland-Jones will still be a player teams have to plan around, but it’s a lot harder to do if someone else can make that a costly decision.
Odom did that last year. Liner, given his talent, could offer that in 2017.
A Spanish Teacher in Manhattan
Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder shared his origin story, for lack of a better word, over at The Player’s Tribune. It’s a worthwhile read on a number of fronts, including a good encapsulation of just how destitute that K-State program was when Snyder arrived.
Everything starts off the field. Treat people well, go to class, do what’s assigned. If you strive for that, all the other stuff isn’t that complicated. And eventually, that standard you hold yourself to will carry over onto the football field.
There’s a solution for every scheme. But there is no easy way to defeat a humble mentality grounded in self-discipline. I’ve carried that with me since childhood, and I brought it with me when I got to Kansas State.
He’s right, of course. The first real day of the football season is today. We’ll spend much of the next few months talking about scheme and stats — and that stuff is a lot of fun — but it’s worth remembering what Snyder said right there about a humble mentality and self-discipline.
The Grab Bag
- According to this preview, Nebraska is going to lose by 11 to Arkansas State.
- David Knevel tops this draft board. It's for the CFL, which has limits on foreign players, so it makes perfect sense Knevel would be there, it had just never occurred to me.
- We got our first book review of Dream Like a Champion and came out of it OK.
- No Huddle is back! Also, LB Mo Barry contines to be an All-American at saying things, Derek Peterson breaks down week one, and Greg Smith makes a recruiting prediction.
Today's Song of Today
I've already used this song in this space once, but I'm doing it again because it's amazing and the album drops tomorrow.
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.