Nebraska Cornhuskers defensive lineman Ben Stille works with coach Tony Tuiotiduring football practice
Photo Credit: John Peterson

Veteran Defensive Linemen Enjoy Teaching Young ‘Sponges’ on Husker Line

August 14, 2021

Nebraska’s fall camp so far is full of interesting storyline and questions. The defense has less questions to answer than the offense at this point. Defensive coordinator Erik Chinander has more good questions on his hands during camp–like how to keep the chemistry strong in position groups battling for spots.

Chinander described the defensive line as being at least two-deep at every position. Defensive end Casey Rogers is one of those players who could be a starter for Nebraska this season.

Rogers says the team has a nice mix of older guys and young guys to push them. The young guys are focused on closing the gap with the veterans. Those younger players need the help of the vets to be able to close that gap. That’s something that Rogers has no problem helping out with. He was a freshman once. Rogers wanted tips from Carlos Davis, Khalil Davis and Darrion Daniels.

“I was in their shoes one time, too. So anything that we can give to them, they’re like sponges,” Rogers said. “They want to learn everything they can because they know that someday it will be their turn. Ru’Quan [Buckley], Jailen [Weaver], Marquis [Black] and all those guys they’re soaking everything in. They know what they got to work on. We watch film every day with them and we’re able to help them and give them tips. Even when we’re on the field. That’s how it is. Vets help vets and the rookies. They’re doing really well. They’re sponges, they’re soaking up a lot of information and they’re bringing it out to the field. I give them a lot credit because they’re doing a really good job.”

Fellow defensive lineman Deontre Thomas is now among that veteran group. Defensive line coach Tony Tuioti has a lot of good options in his room. Thomas echoed the sentiments by Rogers. It means something to teach the young players and they’ve responded well.

“As a defensive line we will meet outside of with Coach Tuioti,” Thomas said. “We don’t just meet with Tuioti. We will get everybody together after practice. We’ll go upstairs and watch film together and talk about what we can do better to keep growing the next practice. When we talk to the young guys, they’re listening to us because they see how we play.

“We have a standard. We need to meet that standard because if they’re not meeting that standard after practice, we’re running. We’re doing wave drills. Nobody likes to do that. We got them meeting the standard.”

Living up to the standard has been mention by several position groups this spring. For the defensive line that brand is simple.

“The brand is just hard work and get off the ball,” Rogers said. “We’re going to come after every play we can. It’s a battle in the trenches and we got to be battle-ready every day. We strap on our hard hats every day and go to war. So they got to be able to do that too.”

It sounds like the veterans in the group are willing to teach for the Huskers heading into the 2021 season. The young players are accepting the message which is a key component of how this all works. We could see good things happening pretty quickly for the defensive line at Nebraska.

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