You’ve got to step up to the plate, whether you’re ready or not.
Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Ty Robinson learned that last season through late-season appearances against Wisconsin and Iowa. A first-year player going against the offensive lines for two of the biggest bruisers in the conference is no easy task. But credit those experiences for the approach Robinson’s taking into the new season, one complete with a grind-it-out kind of opening month.
“It’s either you’re ready or not,” he said Tuesday when speaking with members of the media. “I feel like I’ve progressed enough from last year to this year where I feel like I can at least do my part of the job, hopefully well, and I feel like I can produce for this team just a little bit more than last year.”
An Arizona native and a major recruiting win for the Huskers, Robinson played in only three games his first year in Lincoln—the last three. He’s not credited with any tackles, and yet he’s expected to fill a role for Nebraska’s defensive line in 2020. Perhaps a large role.
The Huskers are replacing all three starters from the defensive front.
Robinson has been cross-trained by position coach Tony Tuioti at both end and nose tackle this offseason. He says he doesn’t have a preference where he plays. In thinking about how Robinson might fit, consider how the Huskers used Carlos Davis a year ago.
“Right now, for me, it’s just about trying to find the right combination of guys who can play together,” Tuioti said.
Live reps (finally) are helping in that search.
“He’s got the talent and he’s got the size, for a big man he can move pretty well, so when he gets in live situations he’s got to continue to grow and get used to that tempo and that pace,” Tuioti said of Robinson. “It’s hard to replicate that in practice.”
But the 6-foot-6, 325-pound Robinson has “made some tremendous strides,” according to his coach.
Robinson and sophomore Casey Rogers have been in the film room with senior Ben Stille every day, Robinson says, just trying to learn as much as possible. Asked where he thought he’d made the most progress this offseason, Robinson said in his understanding of the defense, and he credited Stille for that.
Stille’s played a lot of ball for the Huskers over his years in Lincoln. He’s a leader not just on the line or in the defense, but for the whole team. Not a bad guy to hitch your wagon to.
Robinson got some help in the weight room, too, from First Team Off the Bus guys Damian Jackson and Chris Walker. “They took me as their workout partners, and they just go crazy in the gym,” he said. “I just feel like my physicality has gotten better, too. I’m a lot stronger, and I can take on these bigger guys and their blocks.”
Tuioti’s rotation on the line right now is six/seven-deep.
He lists Stille, juniors Damion Daniels, Deontre Thomas, Jordon Riley, and Keem Green, with Robinson and Rogers rounding out the bunch.
“Those two guys just within the last couple of months have made great strides for us,” Tuioti said of the two youngsters. “Feeling a lot more confident about them being able to come in and play for us.”
And don’t think that because Nebraska opens against Ohio State before playing Wisconsin and Penn State in two of the following three weeks that NU will hold either of the two back simply because they’re young.
“The thing I love about these young guys is they don’t know any better,” Tuioti said. “All they know is to be scrappy and play hard. We know the challenge is out there, that’s why these young men come here to the University of Nebraska because they know they’re going to be playing against some of the best offensive linemen in the country.”
Robinson got that late last year with snaps against the Badgers and Hawkeyes.
And it helped immeasurably.
“It finally made me realize I wasn’t in high school anymore, playing against these grown men. I realized I can’t really rely on my talent anymore, it’s a lot more technique and knowing what’s going on and what’s going to happen,” Robinson said. “It definitely helped me open my eyes up to see the bigger picture, what I needed to get better at.”
In practice, Tuioti gives him props when appropriate, but has an oft-used saying: “Good, better, best.”
“You might have a good play, but it could be better. I feel like that’s how it is with every play,” Robinson said. “You can always have a better play. That’s his coaching mentality towards us.”
You can either accept that challenge or not.
You’re either ready or you’re not.
Robinson’s still young. Nebraska will soon find out what he’s got.
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.