The Nebraska football team practiced for the third time on Saturday as they continue preparation for the 2016 season. The team put the shoulder pads on for the first time this fall.
Nebraska finished 2015 No. 64 in total defense, giving up around 400 yards a game. On Saturday, speaking with reporters, defensive coordinator Mark Banker seems vast improvement in his group. http://www.scout.com/college/nebraska/story/1686317-access-nebraska-on-s...
“I made a comment to them today,” said Banker. “It was really fun to make a signal and not even complete it, and everybody make the call. It is a matter of they know more what to expect and it is second nature. The thinking is out and the reactions are better. We are starting to play faster. That is the key.
“You can see the confidence that is built amongst the players to really be able to go out and attack in a position that they appear to be more comfortable in and it has also helped in our pursuit angles as well.”
Late last year safety Nate Gerry admitted he struggled at times with the transition to a new defense in 2015, but was confident heading into the Huskers’ bowl game. During the spring he looked like a different defensive back and Banker was asked about his first three days in practice.
"He gets frustrated because he’s a perfectionist but he’s got to learn that it’s OK sometime to be wrong,” said Banker. “But the most important thing is to get back on that saddle and work on the things that you have deficiencies in. Today he played some man coverage against the slot and did a great job in my eyes in how he improved.
“Nate Gerry is respected by his teammates, they see how hard he works, they see what type if athlete he is, what type of player he is and what type of player that he can be. I love coaching Nate Gerry. As good a player as he is, he presents challenges. He’s a little stubborn but I kind of like that.”
After practice, players were given a special treat.
* Banker wouldn’t give an exact figure, but said corner Chris Jones has put on some good weight. “He is a different dude right now,” said Banker.
* Speaking of corners, Banker mentioned a story regarding Joshua Kalu last season. The DC asked the sophomore right before the Wisconsin game if he wanted to be a class clown or the cream of the crop at the corner position at a major university. Kalu went out and had one of the best games of his career and has been solid since. There was an attitude change.
* Not surprising, but Banker said true freshman Tony Butler is a “good-looking dude”. Banker said JoJo Domann is the NFL type of guy who everyone thinks they can beat out, but his awareness is too high and he stays in the lineup.
* Banker said it is very good to see defensive tackle Mick Stoltenberg back on the field. The DC said while it sounds crazy, the injury might have been the best thing for him. His flexibility has really increased after rehab. “He’s a big guy and really can bend. Let’s hope that translates into him being a hell of a football player.” Banker said Stoltenberg is intense and before he got hurt he was really coming along. The practice he got hurt, it was the best practice he’s ever had. Banker is hoping to really build him up this fall.
* At the safety spot Kieron Williams and Aaron Williams are battling to play alongside with Gerry. Kieron had a “great” spring according to Banker. “Antonio Reed is behind Nate.”
* At the nickel spot, Nebraska is working Aaron Williams and Joshua Kalu. The problem with Kalu is that they would need to find another corner they could trust.