LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraska defensive end Freedom Akinmoladun has only been a collegiate defensive end for less than a year, but the redshirt freshman received one of the highest honors a Nebraska defensive football player can receive.
Akinmoladun is the newest Blackshirt.
“It means a lot. It means my effort and time I dedicated to this team has really paid off,” said Akinmoladun who received a round of applause from teammates when it was rewarded. “This is only a sign that I have to get better because I represent something bigger.”
Defensive coordinator Mark Banker talked about the decision after practice.
"We talked about earning it and I think he's an epitome of really what a Blackshirt is," Banker said. "He earned it. This is a guy that came in as a tight end, didn't have any idea of what he could or couldn't do [and] he worked hard throughout spring and summer. I mentioned it many times that [he] comes in with Coach Hughes and asks all the important questions, and he just wants to be as good as he possibly can be.
"He played nearly the whole game, had great effort the whole game and he's done that and shown that and that's why we gave him a Blackshirt today."
SCOUTING ILLINOIS’ OFFENSE:
Nebraska fans have gotten a good idea how many formations and looks the Illinois offense can give teams over their last two contests. Banker has seen it as well on tape.
"What impressed me about [Illinois] is the speed at which they do things [and] execute their offense, they have a lot of it," Banker said. "The running back particularly, it seems like a lot of things go through him, whether it's in the run game or getting him involved also in the pass game. I think their wide receivers are good.
“They've got a couple of guys that are exceptional. They've got a good command of what they're trying to do on offense. The quarterback is very efficient as well. I think the offensive line across the board is solid. They look like a very polished offense right now, executing at a very high rate, and we'll have our hands full."
* Wide receiver De’Mornay Pierson-El did look like he practiced on Monday, but was likely limited. Defensive tackle Kevin Williams did not dress out. Players wore no helmets or pads, just jerseys.
* Defensive tackle Maliek Collins/Kevin Maurice and Akinmoladun stayed after practice for nearly 30 minutes working on their pass rush.
* Banker said there is no message to the guys that it’s the Big Ten, but more about them. Discipline in everything they do. Banker wants his team sitting on the sidelines after every series so they can talk about what they did and didn’t do
* Banker was disappointed in the discipline from his defense against Southern Miss, pointing to several mistakes, including Josh Kalu’s spike of the football after an interception.
* The DC says everything is being evaluated when it comes to schematics and they are looking hard and long at where their breakdowns are – if it’s scheme, personnel, technique, or call in the situation. It happens every game Banker said. “We continue to do that,” said the DC.
* Banker was complimentary of Greg McMullen, saying it was the best game of his 2015 season against Southern Miss. “He did a lot of good things,” said Banker.
* In addition, Banker said “Chris Weber played a hell of a game.”
* True freshman Carlos Davis has not been on the scout team, pracitng with the first and second team defense. The staff is going to be smart about it and don’t want to burn his redshirt year – even if it’s only for a game or two. But if he’s the best one, he’s going to play.
* Banker when asked about fans being worried about the pass defense being helpless, he said trust is needed. “In all due respect, I think my responsibility is first and foremost to the players, making sure they are prepared,” said Banker. “For a fan in general, if they are truly a fan, trust in the fact that we will as a coaching staff and as a group on defense, we will correct the situation.”
* Davie did not play last week, but the staff hopes that he gets back into the rotation this week. When he has the twinkle in his eye, he will be back out there.
TWEETS FROM THE TWITTERVERSE:
Big Red Report will have more from practice later on Monday evening.