Monday is the first day of classes at Nebraska. For students that haven’t been on campus for summer sessions, they are getting their bearings and coming to grips with their new adventure.
The football team will have some of those same adjustments to make, but with a bit of a twist. They had a full practice this morning, consistent with the team's schedule for the rest of fall camp. Defensive coordinator Erik Chinander didn’t think the team would have to adjust much this week calling it a “seamless transition” to add in the class schedule with pracitce. The biggest difference is that the team has to adjust for having less meeting time in the afternoon.
The team had a tough scrimmage on Friday before a good bounce back day of practice on Saturday. They had Sunday off. That is typically a recipe for a lackluster practice. Yet according to the Nebraska coaches today, things went much better than expected. Outside linebacker and special teams coach Jovan Dewitt was blown away by the team’s excitement to work on Monday.
“It was awesome,” Dewitt said. “Truthfully, I anticipated two practices not being very good. This morning’s practice because it’s the first day of school. Usually that is awful. Most places I’ve been, we don’t even practice on the first day because it’s usually really bad. The day after a hard scrimmage like we had, I think they came back the very next day in practice as well as we’ve had all year. That in and of itself lends me to think we have mindsets changed to a certain degree. It’s not fully there yet, but it’s on the track.”
Defensive backs coach Travis Fisher was asked after practice about Dewitt’s comments. Fisher was also pleased with the team’s mindset. Specifically, he was happy with how his group bounced back after a tough scrimmage.
“That’s the way it’s supposed to be,” Fisher said. "[The secondary] did a great job. They had a rough scrimmage. They came back the very next day and forgot that they had even scrimmaged the day before. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. That’s the way football is supposed to be. That’s the way the culture should be. It’s what we want at Nebraska.”
Defensive line coach Mike Dawson noted how the players have done a great job of hitting the practice field ready to work. Dawson even said that he remarked to one of the other coaches that the team was flying around today.
“It can be hard after a day off and first day of classes,” Dawson said. “It can be a disaster practice and we had to work them into it today, but by the end of practice they were flying around. I think they're having fun and I think they're enjoying each other, and I think with that they'll have a lot more success."
There has been a lot of talk this fall camp about the mentality shift underway in Lincoln. It seems like the players are buying in. It all starts with a desire to be great and understanding what level of effort it takes to win. Dewitt sees that mentality taking shape in the locker room.
“I think our kids are starting to understand this is the effort it takes to win," he said. "We start every meeting saying, ‘Do you want me to treat you like you will be a Big Ten champ or not?’ If I’m going to treat you like you’ll be a Big Ten champ then I expect this standard every day. Regardless of the situation you are in, this is the standard.
"More and more guys are buying in everyday that this is the standard we’ve got to achieve every day.”
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.