“The willingness to do things right.”
That’s something defensive coordinator Erik Chinander has already noticed four practices in for the Huskers, and it’s something that extends beyond just the defense. Looking at the team as a whole—offense, defense and special teams—Chinander noted that the veterans have quickly set an example for the newcomers on the team.
“It starts at the top and I think those freshmen right now are getting a little baptism by fire and they don’t know any other way,” Chinander said. “They know those old guys do things right. They know those old guys demand that they do things right and it’s rubbing off on them and I think that’s the biggest thing I see through four practices so far.”
Speaking of the young players, Chinander is open to the potential of the defense’s newcomers competing for playing time. He has the luxury of veterans that don’t require players to have to step in early until they are ready, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t expect them to compete.
In fact, Chinander is open to some of the younger players doing what they can to get some playing time this fall.
“I’ve been impressed with some of the freshmen we have so far and if one of them is good enough to play, whether that’s rotationally or in the starting lineup, I’m for it,” Chinander said. “With those four games they can play, I definitely think we should play [them] especially on special teams. I’m not opposed to some of those guys competing for reps and starting spots right now.”
But the experience on the defense does allow for more creativity and flexibility. The older players have been through it a time or two now, so they get what Chinander and his assistants are asking of them.
“They all understand what we’re trying to get done,” Chinander said.
More news and notes:
>> Biggest area of growth on defense? Chinander noted both the defensive line and outside linebackers have done a nice job continuing to grow in their spot, but put the most attention on the inside linebackers.
“You lost Collin Miller to a terrible terrible deal and then you lost Will (Honas) at the end,” Chinander said. “Those guys not only had to step up their football acumen but also their leadership because they become the guys in that room now. I think, probably, as good as the DBs are and as good as that front is, that inside backers room as probably grown the most.”
>> Inside linebackers coach Barrett Ruud doesn’t yet know what the rotation will look like at inside linebackers but beyond Nick Henrich, Chris Kolarevic and Luke Reimer, he mentioned Garrett Snodgrass and Eteva Mauga-Clements.
Reimer separately mentioned Henrich, Kolarevic and Snodgrass—or as he said “Snods”—rotating with him.
>> Nebraska was in shells on Monday, despite it being the fourth practice of fall camp. That’s due to the NCAA’s new rules for camp. The Huskers will have Tuesday off before practicing in shells again on Wednesday. The team’s first practice in pads comes Thursday.
>> Outside linebackers coach Mike Dawson is known on the team as being very honest. When asked about it, he referenced Pulp Fiction.
“If I’m curt with you, it’s because time is of the essence,” he said.
And if his players don’t understand the reference, he said they can Google it.
>> On the kick return units, Dawson said he’s got a big group of guys he’s working with split into three groups: guys coming back with return experience, returning players who haven’t done it in games yet but are working hard, and then newcomers.
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.