Lincoln, NE - Nebraska senior defensive end Joe Carter knows why he wasn't on the field at all times in 2011. Now he's just trying to learn from it.
"Not knowing my plays, that was it. It was the only thing that kept me off the field. I mean the only thing," said Carter, who is in his second year with the program after transferring from Chaffey Junior College. "I have learned a lot and am putting in the work. I'm just taking my time, day-by-day, just trying to get better and better."
Carter knew the plays, but said at times he caught himself thinking about the situation too much. The game wasn't coming naturally to him. But after a whole year in Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini's defensive scheme, Carter feels 2012 can be his time to shine.
"I feel good, there should be a lot of rotation out there," said Carter, who is currently working behind starter Jason Ankrah. "I know my stuff just like the guys on the first team do. It's all in the coaches' hand now, but I have put what I can do on film."
The man in charge of watching that practice film is new defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski, who had a major discussion with Carter coming into the season.
"We told him, it's non-negotiable. He has to help us this year," said Kaczenski, who said Carter probably played hesitant at times in 2011. "You come into fall camp, you've got a bunch of guys ahead of you and things are moving fast. You can't slow the train down for one guy. Guys work at different levels."
With a better understanding of the defense, Kaczenski has seen a change in Carter's play compared to last season.
"This guy has a better grasp for the defense, where he's not over-thinking things, he's not worried about getting lined up. He has confidence in his ability to play fast," said Kaczenski. "We are expecting big things from Joe."
Carter says the talk with Kaczenski won't be forgotten.
"I have kept it in the back of my mind and used it to know that I need to get better. Whether that's putting in extra time after practice or extra time in the film room, what ever it takes. I'm just trying to the help the team," said Carter, who wants to lose the title pass rusher. "My mind set is first thru fourth down. I want to be in there all the time. Whether it's run stopping or going after a quarterback. I'm watching all sorts of film and trying to learn from great defensive ends."
The senior recorded nine tackles ten appearances in 2011.