This was Day 4 of Fall camp for the Huskers. Defensive Coordinator Erik Chinander spoke with the media about the Nebraska defense and how it has looked since the end of spring practice.
"I think they picked up where they left off," Chinander said. "A lot of retention from the older guys, installs come a lot faster than last year. Interesting for me, kind of a different install. Kind of an older guy install and a younger guy install because there's so much retention because the kids worked so hard in the summer, but the effort has been awesome, communication has been awesome. Just their understanding of what we're trying to do has been really, really good."
Lamar Jackson and All Big Ten defensive back Dicaprio Bootle are back in the secondary, but there are several new faces. Coach Chinander also talked about some the newcomers in the secondary.
"Four days in, those guys have done some really, really good things," he said. "Now I think they've hit the rookie wall a little bit. You know, practicing like we practice and lifting and all that kind of thing, they might be getting a little heavy legged but I like where they're at. I think those guys are really good players and definitely going to help on special teams, and I hope some of them can help us on base defense or nickle defense or dime defense."
There are five starters back on defense, in Ben Stille, Carlos Davis, Mohamed Barry, Lamar Jackson, and Dicaprio Bottle. Coach Chinander is looking for one of those players to step up as leaders.
"The leadership and the ‘followership’ has come a long way," Chinander said. "I think sometimes you have great leaders and you have bad followers behind them. Right now we have really good followers and really good leaders. If it's a leader that's talking, people are listening, and if it's another guy that may not be a leader that's talking people are listening, and if it's another guy that maybe not be a leader talking, even the leaders are even listening. So I think that leadership quality, that unity in the team, offense, defense (is there. If Adrian Martinez tells us something on defense, we're going to do it. It's just a team mentality now and leadership is trickling from the top to the bottom."
The Husker defense has worked with the Strength Coach Zach Duval
over the summer. Coach Chinander has seen the results on the practice field.
"Oh absolutely," Chinander said of Nebraska’s offseason gains in strength and conditioning. "Just looking at them and watching them run around and watching them play and do drills, it's night and day to me. Ask Coach Dewitt about that, he's a better judge of that because me and him talked and he asked 'what do you think?', and I said 'I think we're better' and he said 'I think we're a lot better.' When you're not around it for four months and then you jump back in he said it just looks different. So I will take his word for it."
Nebraska's next practice will be Wednesday., The season opener is set for August 31st, when the Huskers host South Alabama.