Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Team Coming Above Self For Spring Standout Nebraska Defenders Farmer, Bullock

April 08, 2023

Playing on special teams means something to Josh Bolluck. The Creighton Prep graduate has played in 22 games the last two seasons, all on special teams. Not because his allegiance is with that third unit, but because it’s with the team.

“I want to be able to get on the field in any possible way I can,” he said. “However I can get on the field and contribute to the team.”

When defensive coordinator Tony White approached Bullock about moving from the secondary to the linebacker, the Omaha native wasn’t surprised. He kind of anticipated it, actually. At 6 foot, 210 pounds, he’s not built like other defensive backs. He’s not as fast as the other safeties. Coaches moved him down and feel they’ve found a potential impact player at linebacker.

Bullock sees shuffling to different positions between special teams and defense as a part of the job. He told local reporters after Thursday’s practice that he’s no bigger than any other member of the team. He’s one of a few handful of Huskers taking reps at linebacker at this point. For as much as White threw at them before spring, conceptually, players have responded so far.

“I’m able to fly around a lot more, make a play,” Bullock said. “It’s not a gap defense, I’m able to see ball, hit ball. I feel like flying to the ball, getting to the ball is my biggest thing. I like that a lot.”

Returning safety Myles Farmer said the new defense required some adjustment but agreed with the freedom White’s defense is built upon. That allows the Division I athletes that populate that side of the ball to make plays. Like Bullock, Farmer also moved around in White’s defense. He’s taken reps at rover in addition to his typical safety position and doesn’t mind the shift or juggling the two.

Farmer was one of the defense’s most reliable players at the end of last season. He’s bringing some of the positive momentum and experience from last season into this one with a clean schematic slate.

“I’d say I want to apply what I learned last year to what they’re teaching me now,” Farmer said. “It’s been working, they go hand in hand. I’m just trying to be the best player I can be.”

Nebraska head coach Matt Rhule chuckled on Thursday when describing Farmer. He said Farmer has a chip on his shoulder, something he’s learned to enjoy about him. The Huskers’ returning safety is a proven capable defender but showed maturity in adapting to coaches. He worked directly with former secondary coach Travis Fisher directly. Now he works with secondary coach Evan Cooper, who Farmer said is blunt with players. Cooper is direct with a high standard. That is a byproduct of the Rhule coaching philosophy. White, despite not working on a staff with Rhule before, has a similar coaching style.

“He explains it how he knows how to explain it,” Farmer said of the coordinator. “It’s our job to go in there and learn it and be able to take the coaching. That’s what I try to do. I try to take as much coaching as I can and try to apply what I know to what he’s telling me.”

That high standard carries throughout the program. Rhule’s tasked with turning the Nebraska football program into a winner again. He and his staff are focused on details and accountability to get there. That involves players repeating drills and getting their reps analyzed with a fine-eye. If it’s not up to snuff, coaches point it out. Farmer is receptive to that, despite the chip on his shoulder.

“Coach Rhule can get on me and I can spaz at him or I can take the coaching,” he said. “That goes with us building a relationship off the field. I can get on my brother and he can get mad at me because I’m getting on him or he can take the coaching. It goes hand in hand.”

Farmer tries to lend his coaching to younger teammates. Sure, there’s competition, “but it’s still a brotherhood,” he said.

Both Farmer and Bullock are showing their importance to the coaches and program this spring by focusing on what’s best for the team.

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