Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nebraska Safety Corey Collier Finds Tony White’s Chaotic Defense Easy to Comprehend

April 19, 2023

Everyone’s tried figuring out Tony White’s defense. Linebacker coach Rob Dvoracek previously called it chaos. Defensive line coach Terrance Knighton wished opposing offenses luck trying to scheme against it. On Tuesday, offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield explained what it’s like to coach against.

“I can’t imagine playing another team that’s gonna give us the looks that we’ve gotten thus far,” Satterfield said. “It’s a very disruptive defense. I’m glad he’s on our team.”

The dynamic defense, with its multitude of pressure points and fronts, challenges the offense. And it can be a challenge to play in. Especially as players learn multiple positions within that defense this spring. But, for some reason he couldn’t quite put into words, it’s come really easy to safety Corey Collier. Compared to the defense he played at Florida before transferring to Nebraska in December, this one isn’t complicated at all.

“I picked it up real quick, so I think it’s real easy,” Collier said. “I really can’t put it in words of what makes it easy. It’s just easy for me.”

Collier is a redshirt sophomore for Nebraska after two seasons in Gainesville. He played in two games and redshirted in 2021 and then played in three games last year. During those two years, he adjusted to the speed of the college game. He said college football also posed more of a mental than physical adjustment. He also mentioned an emphasis on details.

Collier wanted the benefit of change and hit the portal. He chose Nebraska in December upon finding it more like home than he anticipated. When speaking with local media on Tuesday, the safety said secondary coach Evan Cooper was possibly the biggest reason for choosing Nebraska. Cooper is from Palmetto High School in Miami, same high school Collier graduated from as one of the country’s best safeties. That shared upbringing gives a baseline of relatability. On the field, Cooper likes to talk a little smack to his defensive backs. At the same time he’s as detailed on the field as he is in the film room.

“You can come out of practice thinking you’ve had a perfect practice, then you watch it on film and he’ll say you messed up on this,” Collier said. “Just the little things you know. That’s kind of what everybody needs, you know, focus on the little details. That’s kind of what he does.”

Early enrollee Dwight Bootle is also a Palmetto High graduate and will stop by Collier’s house to game. Collier also gets along with Marco Ortiz and Chief Borders, both of which transferred from Florida during the offseason. Collier said if he’s ever feeling down or low on energy, Borders comes along and picks him right up. Together, they all make him feel comfortable despite the adjustment to harsh weather.

“Yeah, because coming to college you want to be comfortable,” Collier said. “So when you have guys around you, especially from your hometown, they make it feel like home.”

On the field, Collier is mainly playing at either the boundary or free safety spot. He’s learned multiple positions within White’s defense, as most have, but didn’t mind that at all. He moved around in high school to play different spots because it’s easier to get to the NFL that way. Despite his recent arrival, Collier likes how close the defensive backs are. They all get along and help each other, he said. If any have questions within White’s defense, they can ask for his expertise.

Defensive coordinator Tony White was a cornerbacks coach for years. He played linebacker at UCLA. The way his defense is aligning now puts a lot of emphasis on Nebraska’s safeties. Collier was asked on Tuesday what the most challenging part of White’s defense is.

“Probably just knowing everything, knowing what everybody in the secondary gotta do,” he answered. “That’s probably the most challenging. Everything’s basically on the safety. If the corner line up wrong, it’ll be on you so you gotta communicate.”

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