Four Nebraska football coaches made appearances on Sports Nightly this week, discussing their various position groups and how the team has come along in development this offseason. With fall camp practices slated to kick off Wednesday, July 27—the Huskers officially report the day before—there’s no better time than now to check in.
While each had a number of topics to cover, here’s an overview of some of the bigger points that were made this week.
Offensive Coordinator Mark Whipple
When it comes to Nebraska’s quarterbacks, we know offensive coordinator Mark Whipple had an opportunity to work with the group this summer. Quarterback Chubba Purdy mentioned it earlier in the week, noting how helpful it is to have time with the coaches on the practice field during summer workouts.
This was made possible thanks to a new NCAA rule. The coaches only get two hours per week and there are limitations to those practices when coaches are present—there can be no contact of any kind when coaches are present, for example—but having the coaches present even just to toss the ball around has made a difference for the players.
As for Whipple, the time allowed him the opportunity to work individually with his players. They’ve broken down film and worked on mastering the offense during that time.
“They’ve gone through all the plays and seen a lot of things, individually, just with me,” Whipple said. “I think that’s certainly helped them and I can see guys making some big jumps. We can’t watch 7-on-7 but from what I’ve heard it’s been good. To me, I’m not as big on that part as individual route running and timing with quarterbacks.”
From all of that though, the most important update Whipple provided was that all of his quarterbacks have been full-go all summer. From a foot injury with Purdy to a thumb injury with Casey Thompson, there was reason to be concerned but it sounds like everyone is at a good spot with their health heading into fall camp.
That includes freshman Richard Torres, who tore his ACL last fall.
“He’s full-go now and a lot of the offseason work is going to help him,” Whipple said.
Wide Receivers Coach Mickey Joseph
There’s no denying that wide receivers coach Mickey Joseph is an elite recruiter. He’s proven that during his time at LSU and has continued the trend since arriving at Nebraska.
During his time on Sports Nightly, he gave a little insight into his approach to his room. He wants competition, and he’d like to keep between 10 and 11 “really good” players in the room at a time.
“Because that motivates itself,” Joseph said. “Nobody can take a day off. Take a day off and somebody else is going to get it done.”
Where is Nebraska at with its wide receivers room right now? Joseph thinks the Huskers have somewhere between nine and 11 receivers that could play right now—and Nebraska would be comfortable playing—but there are still moving pieces. Decisions are still being made at other spots on the offense that will ultimately effect how things shake out for the receivers.
One player that sounds certain to be a factor in 2022 though? Trey Palmer, who transferred to Nebraska from LSU.
“He’s a totally different kid than I had at LSU,” Joseph said. “I think he’s playing with more confidence. I think he understands the grind that I expect out of the group. I think he understands that every day he’s got to come and fight.”
Defensive Fronts Coach Mike Dawson
Goodbye, polar bear. Hello, cobra.
Defensive fronts coach Mike Dawson had high praise for Nash Hutmacher, the 6-foot-4, 330-pound sophomore nose tackle who is affectionally nicknamed The Polar Bear. Dawson shared a story about Hutmacher from this summer, where he got in a grappler’s stance and took a shot at edge rusher Garrett Nelson.
“Nash went right at Garrett and it looked like a cobra coming out of its stance and going to strike a tiger,” Dawson said. “That’s what we need to take and turn that over and get that as part of your ‘get off’ on the football field. I think that kind of clicked with him.”
That’s what Nebraska needs on the defensive line, Dawson said, because that kind of attitude and aggressiveness will be difficult for an opponent to block. Hutmacher has worked hard in the weight room this offseason, but Dawson now wants to see that translate to the field on game day. He especially wants Hutmacher to take what he has worked on in the bench press, squat and clean and improve on one fluid movement when the ball is snapped.
“When you’re doing those specific lifts in the weight room, it’s great to have a great bench, a great squat and a great power clean but when you’re playing football you’re doing all three of them at once,” Dawson said. “Now, can you take all three of those and put them together at the same time?”
He added that Nebraska started to see flashes of Hutmacher doing just that toward the end of spring ball.
One additional note: Dawson has been mindful of the number of reps each player in his room has had this offseason. Nebraska wants to keep its players as healthy as possible heading into the season, so there’s been intention placed in the number of reps each player has received.
Defensive Backs Coach Travis Fisher
The word of the offseason for Nebraska’s defensive backs room is maturity. It’s what defensive backs coach Travis Fisher mentions most when looking at his players.
Take cornerback Tommi Hill, for example. Fisher likes what he’s seen from Hill athletically, but there’s still room to grow.
“He’s going to be an NFL player if he don’t mess it up,” Fisher said. “It’s one thing to say those types of things about kids before they actually put the work in but just the potential I see in him with his movement skills . . . he’s just got to put the total package together to be that guy.”
Fisher has those players in his room, including two returning starters in Myles Farmer and Quinton Newsome. They’re important to this secondary, especially as other players mature.
“Because they can help out so much with that,” Fisher said. “Getting guys like Tommi, with that kind of skill, to have the mindset of guys who have been here.”
Another talented player—or should we say “freak,” as Fisher put it—that needs to mature? Cornerback Javier Morton who has “got muscles everywhere, works out extremely hard” but still needs to work on the mental side of his game. Fisher spoke with him about that just this week.
Expect to hear a lot of that during fall camp from Fisher. Mature, mature, mature. That’s what he wants from his room as it prepares to kick off a new season in 2022.
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.