On Monday, Nebraska kicked off spring practice.
On Tuesday we had the opportunity to hear from players, Scott Frost and offensive and defensive assistants. New defensive line coach Tony Tuioti had his first chance to meet with Nebraska media. He was a popular guy being the new coach in town, drawing a full table to for the 30-minute session.
Let’s run through some of the big things he said to get to know him and his philosophy better.
>>Tuioti was asked about his first impressions of his group. The pair of brothers in that room––Carlos and Khalil Davis, Darrion and Damion Daniels––have made an early impression.
“The guys work really hard. I think the Davis twins, those guys are really good football players. They were very productive last year. We are going to need their experience to help bring the younger guys along. Damion Daniels is a really good nose guard. He’s a guy that when I watched the tape, he can really can give us some knock back. He’s a guy I would say that commands four hands if you try to single block him. He can win one-on-one matchups. Having his older brother, he was probably the most impressive at practice. Darrion Daniels, seeing him run to the football and bringing good leadership, we are going to need that.”
>>Aside from having to leave the players he cared about at California, making the move to Nebraska was not too tough for Tuioti.
“It wasn’t tough after I talked to Coach Frost. Having the chance to talk to Coach Frost and [defensive coordinator Erik] Chinander to understand their philosophy and culture they are trying to build. They are winners. Coach Frost is a winner who has won here and at UCF. He’s coming back here and he will bring that mentality. Knowing the type of character and man that he is, he’s a family man. A lot of my values align with his. The way he wants to treat the players, he respects them. It all falls in line with me. The stars lined up, I talked to my wife and we prayed about it. Besides the football part though. Nebraska football is what it is. In this profession, you want to surround yourself with great people. You can’t go wrong being around Coach Frost, Coach Chinander and the rest of the staff.”
>>Tuioti already has a previous relationship with incoming 4-star defensive end Ty Robinson and they have some film to go over.
“I know Ty Robinson was a big signee here. I’m excited to get a chance to work with him. We recruited him coming out of high school. He came and did an unofficial visit with his mom. There is a relationship built there. I actually texted him when I got the job and started flying here. I told him that he’s the one that made the right decision because I’m following you to Nebraska now. I’m excited to work with him. I made a cut up for Ty when he came on his unofficial visit. It was 250 plays and we went for about 50 minutes or so and only got through 100. He texted me though and said, ‘Hey, coach are we going to finish the other 100 clips?’ It’s cool to have that relationship already.”
>>Tuioti hasn’t been in Lincoln long but he is very impressed with head strength and conditioning coach Zach Duval.
“I’m very impressed. Coach Duval is an awesome guy. He’s the only strength coach that I’ve seen with position coaches. He stays in our room. He’s in our position meeting rooms. He’s in all of our drills. I’ve never had that before where a strength coach is that much involved. That just tells me how much he’s involved with the players. I can see already the growth from 2018 to 2019. I know just talking with him and Coach Frost that we aren’t where we want to be with the size and strength but I know in time we will get there.”
>> Stopping the run is a core belief for the coach. He talks about it with a lot of passion.
“As you guys know, it takes 11 guys to stop the run. It also takes 11 guys to stop the pass. We got to have a good understanding that to stop the run, we need the secondary to come help fill some gaps. If they use the QB to run the ball, we have to use 11 guys, too. It’s no different than in the pass game. That was the biggest thing at my last stop. Knowing that in pass situations we have to affect the QB. I know everybody talks about sacking the quarterback but my philosophy is about affecting the quarterback. I’m fine if we don’t get a sack if we get 10 hurries, three batted balls and force three interceptions plus win the game, then it’s beautiful. Sacking the quarterback is just one form of that. Can we affect the quarterback? These guys know that any time it’s a pass, they have many ways to make an impact playing the game.
“For me I will always stress stopping the run. That’s where it starts for me. When we talked as a staff, a lot of my time was spent talking about how I can help these young men develop in the run game. To develop the skills and tools they need to stop the run.”
>> Before the Huskers can be an effective run-stopping team, there are some building blocks that need to be in place. What does Tuioti want to accomplish with his group in the immediate future?
“It’s really just to help them with their fundamental technique. We have spent a lot of time the last three days to help them understand their fundamental techniques and use those tools within the situation of the games. Once our players can understand how to use those tools within the scheme of the game, it doesn’t matter what defensive call we have. If they know how to respond and use their technique to their advantage then we will be good every time. Its understanding what I want them to do, respond and execute it.”
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.