The historic Blackshirts won’t return this year.
Interim head coach Mickey Joseph confirmed this on Thursday night’s episode of Sports Nightly on the Husker Radio Network with Greg Sharpe. He said in Tuesday’s press conference that he didn’t consider bringing them back after the Husker defense pitched a second consecutive second-half shutout against Rutgers.
Joseph explained that the decision comes as a way to lessen pressure while the defense continues to play well. Also that Blackshirts attract negative comments when the defense doesn’t meet the team’s standard.
“So we talked about just being a team so we’re going to be a team and we’re going to let the Blackshirts sit down,” Joseph set the record straight. “And we won’t give them back this year so everybody can stop wondering what we’re going to do. We’re not giving them out this year.”
Defensive coordinator Bill Busch agreed with Joseph’s decision to hold the Blackshirts earlier in the week. Busch is a Pender native who played football at Nebraska Wesleyan and coached previously at Nebraska. He’s aware of the legacy that comes with donning those practice jerseys and wearing the label. But he also supported Joseph’s decision.
“No, we’ve got a great pack of kids playing right now together and they’re going to stay just like that,” Busch said. “If Coach Joseph decides he wants to be able to give them back, absolutely I’ll support him 100%. But right now we have a very good mindset of how we’re going to play as a unit, and that’s all we’re worried about right now is being one big unit.”
Defensive tackle Ty Robinson was one of nine Huskers who received a Blackshirt ahead of the team’s season opener in Ireland. He understood the coaching staff’s decision to withhold Blackshirts after the Rutgers game. Not handing them out kept the distinction as a highest honor that didn’t afford lapses in practice or games. But he admitted having one, and then having it taken away, lit a fire under him.
“It sucks but I understood from the coach’s standpoint and from the player’s standpoint of we didn’t really deserves them after the first few games,” Robinson said on Tuesday. “Hopefully we can get it turned around and maybe we get them at the end of the year, who knows? But at this moment all I really care about is winning games.”
Team captains Nick Henrich, Caleb Tannor and Garrett Nelson, as well as Robinson, Colton Feist, Marques Buford, Myles Farmer, Quinton Newsome and Luke Reimer were the nine that received Blackshirts this season. Joseph removed the Blackshirts when he took over as interim head coach in order to give the team a fresh start.
Some of the other notables from the radio show:
>> Mickey Joseph considered the remainder of the season his job interview for the full-time head coaching job. He said he’s the only one getting an interview like this. Joseph’s focus, however, remains on each practice and each game in order to build the most successful team at the end of the year.
>> When asked about player substitutions, Joseph explained that college games feature 80 plays on both sides and asking college athletes to play that much is tough. So they like to maintain fresh legs and get more players game reps this way.
>> Joseph reiterated discipline against Purdue. The Boilermakers are a veteran team so the Huskers have to maintain their awareness and can’t allow mental lapses that lead to big plays.
>> The Nebraska equipment crew is taking two different pairs of shoes for each Husker. Coaches want to make sure players have their footing on the natural grass field at Ross-Ade Stadium.
>> Nebraska has a handful of trick plays ready to use for any given game, possibly as soon as Purdue.