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Tony Tuioti Feels Good About Defensive Line Ahead of New Season

October 06, 2020

With all three of Nebraska’s starters on the defensive line in 2019 off to the NFL, the Huskers have some questions to answer. The good news? Defensive line coach Tony Tuioti feels good about where he’s at with the depth in his room right now.

In fact, Tuioti said during a Zoom call on Tuesday that he specifically feels good about six or seven guys rotating in this season. The names mentioned were Ben Stille, Damion Daniels, Deontre Thomas, Keem Green, Jordon Riley, Ty Robinson and Casey Rogers.

Robinson is one of the players that has specifically stood out for Tuioti, who said he has “made some tremendous strides” since last season. He’s still playing both defensive end and nose tackle. Tuioti called the redshirt freshman a “combination player” like Carlos Davis was for the Huskers in 2019.

“We’re expecting a lot out of him and he’s expecting a lot out of himself,” Tuioti said.

Robinson isn’t only impressing Tuioti either. Daniels also mentioned Robinson as someone that has stood out to him so far, calling him a “dog” and saying “that’s a new dude.”

“I just can’t wait to see him play,” Daniels said.

Senior inside linebacker Collin Miller also feels Nebraska’s defensive line is in a “good position” after losing Carlos and Khalil Davis, as well as Darrion Daniels, following the 2019 season. When asked who has looked different since last winter, Miller mentioned Robinson, junior college addition Jordon Riley and walk-on Colton Feist from Yutan, Nebraska.

So, there seems to be a theme. That doesn’t mean the defensive line doesn’t have plenty of work ahead. Junior defensive lineman Deontre Thomas said that the 2019 line “were dogs” (another theme) and “tough,” which means the defense has some work to do.

“We have to get tougher, we’ve got to get stronger, we’ve got to get faster,” Thomas said.

It sounds like everyone is on the same page, from coach to players. It doesn’t hurt that “chemistry” came up quite a bit on Tuesday as well.

When you’re replacing an entire line? That has to be another thing Tuioti feels good about.

More news and notes:

>> Ruud didn’t want to give much away, saying it might be better to leave it to the “head ball coach,” but shared that he believes Luke Reimer has already been placed on scholarship.

“Luke’s been very good since the day he got here,” he said.

Miller has also beein impressed by Reimer.

“Luke Reimer is doing a phenomenal job,” Miller said. “. . . He’s just making plays left and right.”

>> Could Nick Henrich play outside? Sure, if it’s needed but Ruud said he’s been mostly inside so far.

Ruud also said he would like to play 3-to-5 guys regularly at the inside spots this fall.

>> How’s the offense? Ruud said he thinks “they’ve been good” and that both Adrian Martinez and Luke McCaffrey have been sharp.

“Not only with throwing the ball,” Ruud said. “But decision making and the run game too.”

He also said it’s gotten more precise for the offense.

>> Tuioti said newcomer Pheldarius Payne is working with Mike Dawson and the outside linebackers right now.

>> Robinson said the defense line’s leaders right now are Ben Stille, Damion Daniels and Deontre Thomas.

>> “It helps when you work out with Coach [Zach] Duval,” Robinson said when asked about offeason growth.

He also thanked Chris Walker and Damian Jackson for being his workout partners in the weight room over the summer.

>> Nebraska is back in pads, as we know, and that means players like Miller are just happy to hit some people now.

“We’re going live quite often now that we’re in full pads,” he said.

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