LINCOLN, Neb. - The Nebraska football team practiced for just over two hours Tuesday morning inside the Hawks Championship Center and outside on the Ed and Joyanne Gass practice fields.
Defensive Coordinator Erik Chinander addressed the media following the conclusion of practice to talk about what caught his eye when he watched film on Northern Illinois.
"It's a really good football team," Chinander said. "Experienced line up front. They have a receiver No. 14 (Spencer Tears) that makes some really good catches, and a junior college transfer No. 3 (Tyrice Richie) that can really run and a grad transfer quarterback (Ross Bowers). So they have a good football team and I think their offensive coordinator (Eric Eidsness) does a good job. We watched film from when he was at South Dakota State and they did a lot of nice things on film."
He also discussed the defense's performance last Saturday against Colorado.
"Especially in the first half, the first three quarters, you take the ball away, you get a lot of TFLs (tackles for loss) and you sack the quarterback," he said. "Zero points on the board is probably the best stat. A lot of good takeaways and you just have to find a way to keep doing it. Maybe we need to get some more guys ready. I take the blame. I have to get those guys ready to play four quarters. I've got to get more guys ready if those guys get gassed so we can get them in the game, but we've got to finish."
He also addressed the depth of the defense.
"I think the depth is good," Chinander said. "Defensive line is good, linebackers we're rolling three. With Deontai [Williams] going down, it's a little thin in the back end, especially with a couple of those guys. Lamar [Jackson] had some cramping issues. Marquel [Dismuke] went down for a series. So the issue there is, you're cross training guys to play so many positions and I don't know if that has a little bit to do with them not knowing exactly what to do at crucial moments in the game, but we've got to get that fixed. I've got to find a way."
He finished by touching on what it will take to win the close games.
"You want to win them all, but it takes being in some situations," he said. "Coach Frost puts us in situations in practice, that's great, but it takes being in live bullets and you'd like to come out on top of them. Sometimes you don't and you learn. Sometimes we have to do things differently as coaches. Sometimes I have to manage the game better on defense. Sometimes I have to put the guys in a safer position because they're not as experienced. You can't gamble with some of those kids as much as you can with guys that are really experienced and have been in the system a little longer. I think those live situations help you grow, win or lose. I'd love to win them absolutely, but it's going to help us."
The Huskers continue preparations for Northern Illinois with practice on Wednesday. Kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14 at Memorial Stadium with television coverage provided by FS1.