Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Husker Defensive Line Improved in 2020 But Still Has Plenty to Prove

April 07, 2021

The group coming back for defensive line coach Tony Tuioti has played a lot of football at Nebraska. His room is anchored by Ben Stille, Damion Daniels, Deontre Thomas, Ty Robinson, Casey Rogers and Jordon Riley. All six have all been around the program for more than a year. Even the younger players have experience. Mosai Newsom, Marquis Black and Nash Hutmacher have at least one year of college experience under their belts.

During the 2020 season, the defensive line improved. The team allowed 4.17 yards per carry in 2020 compared to 4.82 in the 2019 campaign. Even with that improvement Tuioti and his players are coming to practice every day with chips on their shoulders. Stille may be out for spring—Coach Scott Frost confirmed the news on Wednesday—but Tuioti doesn’t want any of his guys wasting any of the opportunities in front of them each day.

“We got to improve and we got to get better in a lot of different things. In the run game, getting after the quarterback, winning games,” Tuioti said on Wednesday. ““The people here in Nebraska are very prideful people. I love that about this state. I love that about the culture. It burns me every single day that we got to play up to that expectation. Their high expectations, that’s why we came here. I love my boys. They understand that every single day it’s not good enough. So, we want to get better.

While Tuioti said that Wednesday’s practice was good, there are still things to clean up. He believes that in order to take the next step as a unit, the defensive line has to finish more consistently. That has been a theme of spring on both the offensive and defensive side of the football.

“In our room, we always talk about good, better, best,” Tuioti said. “The young guys, Casey Rogers, Ty Robinson, all of them improved. Damion Daniels as well. Our big emphasis this week, really throughout training camp it’s the finish part. We left a lot of plays on the field last year that we feel like could’ve made. Whether that’s making a tackle in our gap, getting to the quarterback to affect him. So all those different types of things we want to get better at.”

There is an urgency that Tuioti spoke with when discussing his group on Wednesday. We’ve heard that type of talk from other assistants this spring too. Tuioti says that comes from not being happy with the last two years because he knows the team can be better.

He’s approaching this spring as if everyone has something to prove in his room including himself.

“You know, what’s going to be good enough is, at the end of the day, the scoreboard shows that we got one more point than the other team,” Tuioti said. “That’s when it’s good enough.”

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