When Nebraska’s defensive backs and wide receivers line up against each other on Saturday, one thing is to be expected — intense competition.
Players and position coaches have expressed that the interactions between the receivers and defensive backs have been fierce. That’s something they’d like to see continue in the Spring Game.
“It’s been great, It’s been intense, the one-on-ones are always the best part of practice,” cornerback Quinton Newsome said. “We got Coach Fish and Coach Mickey Joseph, they just be going at it, too. So I feel like that kind of really helps us increase the level of play we have.”
Both position groups are seeing players looking to step up in their own rooms. Three starting defensive backs from last year have moved on from the team, while the Huskers’ most productive returning receiver is Omar Manning, who averaged 34 yards a game in 2021.
However, defensive backs coach Travis Fisher and wide receivers coach Mickey Joseph are still confident in their personnel. For Fisher, he appreciates how the competition has improved his unit as a whole.
“I want more, I just want those guys to keep making us better. They step it up, we step it up,” defensive backs coach Travis Fisher said. “There’s been some times in this spring that they’ve showed some different stuff for us in the backend. And then we fix it in the film room. And then we come out and fix some things and go vice versa.”
Adjusting to new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple’s offense has been a focus. Newsome said that the schemes are “really different,” and receivers move around a lot more. Fisher reaffirmed that point, mentioning that he’s had to spend a lot of time breaking down the offense.
“Coach Whipple, his approach and how they run that offense now. It’s new, it’s different. It definitely had me in the office the whole time trying to figure things out,” Fisher said. “It hasn’t been a day where I think I could have just relaxed and say, ‘Hey, we did this last year. This is easy.’ Alright, so he’s very smart.”
Joseph also said his players will compete, but that he’s focused on the big picture. He made note, just like Fisher did, that one of the biggest priorities was keeping everybody healthy.
Along with that, Joseph emphasized that this is still just the start of a long process. He gave wide receiver Trey Palmer a “B” grade for the spring, and is refraining from giving anyone an “A”.
“Because we talk about a finish line, I think when you get an A, kids kind of say ‘Oh, that’s the finish line, everything’s done,’” Joseph said. “I want to continue to make them chase, so we talk about a finish line in our room and it’s not a finish line, the finish line will be in January.”
For Palmer, he’s maintaining his confidence. Earlier this week, he said he wouldn’t be putting on a show Saturday, but a “clinic.”
That boldness, from both himself and his teammates, is something Palmer said has helped the team progress.
“We talk trash, tell each other, we get better each and every day, like ‘Aye bro, I did this because you did that,’ so we helping each other out as we still competing,” he said on Monday.
The defensive backs agree.
“We love that confidence,” Newsome said. “It’s just gonna make us better at the end of the day, he talking, we be talking too so I mean, it just increases the amount of competition.”