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What You Can Expect From Nebraska’s Defense on Saturday

April 16, 2018

Scott Frost and his staff will be surrounded by 90,000 of their closest friends Saturday when they hope to usher in a new era of Husker football. Yeah, 90,000. For a scrimmage. Talk about a warm welcome (back, in some cases) to Cornhusker land. For defensive coordinator Erik Chinander, Saturday will be his first experience with Nebraska gamedays, and you can bet he’s excited.

“Oh I’m looking forward to it,” Chinander said when he met the media last Saturday. “I’ll be like one of those kids that’s never run out of the tunnel before taking a meaningful rep. I’m fired up to run out of that thing and hear the crowd and see this stadium. I’m the most excited one to do it.”

As they’ve gotten closer, Chinander says the anticipation has perked up for some of the new faces on the team that are in the same boat he is. “It’s important for the guys that haven’t played,” he said, guys like freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez and junior college transfer linebacker Will Honas who figure to have a heavy spotlight in Saturday’s exhibition. 

Earlier in the week, Frost talked about the game being more about the fans than anything else. Chinander said for the new guys, it’ll be a learning experience and for the coaching staff, an eyeball test of sorts.

“I want to get lined up, I want to see who knows their technique, I want to see who knows their call, I want to see who can get off their block, I want to see who can tackle, I want to see who can cover. Period,” Chinander said. “In the Spring Game what I’m trying to do is not trick the offense.”

So what can fans expect this weekend? Frost said last week a decision would be made on the format in the days leading up to the game (perhaps we’ll learn during his scheduled availability on Tuesday) but he ultimately wants the fans to get their money’s worth.

“I want to put on the best show we can and show people the progress,” he said. “I want the fans to get something for what they paid for, we’re going to play some football and make it look as good as we can.”

And, in Chinander’s eyes, the people are paying for points, so he’s not going to deny them that (at least until he has to).

“We could go out there and throw outs, all kinds of crazy stuff and blitz packages, I don’t want to trick the offense … we’re not going to limit things from the play sheet but we’re not just going to go bananas because the offensive coaches want to see if that guy’s lined up in the ‘A’ gap, can the offensive lineman block him, not guys moving all over and twisting and banging,” he said. “We’ll save that for when we get a real opponent.

“Now, if we need to stop them at the end and we need to win the game, well maybe a little different.”

Basically don’t overreact if the defense gives up something like, well I don’t know, 132 points in the game (… I mean come on Rutgers). Chinander is going to let his guys go out and play and fly around but he’s not going to do what most used to do on NCAA 14 and dial up all out blitzes every single play. 

“The point for me is to get a fair evaluation in a game-like atmosphere and see who can play with who and who can actually do it,” he said. 

Ninety-thousand are looking forward to seeing that, too.

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