Slowing the Nebraska DT hype train

Nebraska defensive tackles Vincent Valentine and Maliek Collins are getting plenty of hype this spring. Is it warranted?

LINCOLN, Neb. - They hype surrounding Nebraska defensive tackles Maliek Collins and Vincent Valentine is nearly getting out of control again.

On Monday, new defensive line coach Hank Hughes tried to slow the train down.

“I don’t want to get above and beyond what they are. Every guy here has to improve fundamentally. Every guy here has to get bette,” said Hughes.. “Those two guys have some tools that give them a chance. If they work hard, every single day to improve their skills, they have a chance to be real good players.

“I’m excited, but I’m more excited to get them into the film rom tomorrow. We have a lot of work. I’m glad it isn’t here tomorrow and that we have time.”

Hughes says the pair plays off each other very well.

”Maliek is quick. Vincent is powerful,” said Hughes. “Maliek’s quick, explosive, hard to block 1-on-1. His quickness is really what he has. At the same token, Vincent is a load to block. He’s a big man. He’s done a good job out there.”

The longtime assistant coach prides himself on fundamentals and says there isn’t a defensive lineman on the roster who can’t improve in at least some area.

“The game is 98 percent fundamentals and 2 percent tricks,” said Hughes. “Those tricks will work if you are good at your fundamentals. If you aren’t good at your fundamentals, you’ll never get to the tricks.

“I’m a believe that the ball finds the good ones. If you are always chasing the ball or trying to make a play, you are going to take yourself out of plays. If you just go out and do your job, do your fundamentals, the ball will find you.”

Hughes was asked if he thought not only Collins and Valentine, but the rest of the defensive line had bought in to the system?

“100 percent. I wouldn’t expect it to be any different no matter who’s system it was,” said Hughes. “That’s a players job. The coach puts in the system.”

Last season, Collins and Valentine combined for 90 tackles and 7.5 sacks.

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