With practice No. 5 in the books this spring, voices from the Husker defense met with the media. We heard from defensive line coach Tony Tuioti, inside linebacker coach Barrett Ruud, defensive linemen Casey Rogers and Ty Robinson, and safeties Marquel Dismuke and Deontai Williams.
Here are the quick hits:
>> Before any of the Blackshirt representatives came out, head coach Scott Frost had an impromptu availability to address a few of the injury situations media observed during Wednesday morning’s practice. Senior defensive end Ben Stille, transfer running back Markese Stepp, and early-enrollee defensive back Marques Buford Jr. all have undergone surgeries and will miss spring ball. Frost said all three are expected to be back in time for fall camp.
For Stepp, Frost said it was something the running back from USC arrived with that neither he nor the Huskers knew about until getting going. It was in his best interest, Frost said, to have surgery now and prepare for fall camp. Stepp is expected to return to activity sometime this summer.
For Stille, it seems as though Nebraska isn’t overly concerned. Stille had surgery prior to the start of spring ball and with him being a sixth-year senior who has put in a lot of time, Nebraska felt it better to just give him recovery time and focus on a fall return.
As for some of the other absences observed during practice—wideout Omar Manning, running back Rahmir Johnson, and linebacker JoJo Domann most notably—Frost said they were all being held out for minor things and aren’t expected to miss significant time.
>> Senior inside linebacker Will Honas is dealing with a hip issue. His position coach, Barrett Ruud, said Honas will be a limited participant this spring. The door is wide open for third-year linebacker Nick Henrich.
>> Tony Tuioti has a real sense of urgency about him. The d-line was better last season, he said, but no one in his room has “established” themselves and no one has a guaranteed spot. He wants to see better play from everyone.
>> The Purdue game last season, Casey Rogers felt, was Nebraska’s best performance from a pass-rushing standpoint. Growing in that area is a big emphasis for Rogers this offseason. He said receiving a Blackshirt is a big motivator, but not the driving force. He wants to be great. “Once I get it, it won’t stop me from working as hard as I can,” he said.
>> Fun note: Ty Robinson wants to go into pediatric medicine at UNMC after football.
>> We heard from both partners in Nebraska’s veteran safety duo. They seem super close. Both have children about the same age, and Deontai Williams says they’ll hang out together with their kids. Their relationship has grown, and that should only help the Huskers on the field this fall.
Williams and Marquel Dismuke both said they can sort of instinctually read what the other is thinking. Dismuke will go to tell Williams something, and Williams will already be setting up to do that thing or move to that place or make that adjustment. If Dismuke is moving too slow, Williams will get on his tail about it, and vice versa.
>> While defensive backs coach Travis Fisher says his eventual goal is to make Nebraska’s secondary the best in the country, the safety duo said they want to be a top-10 secondary this upcoming season. Williams didn’t break it down in terms of numerical benchmarks, but they want to be all-around great; that means improved tackling (he and Dismuke both emphasized tackling), limiting busts, limiting big plays, and forcing turnovers.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.