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Carriker Chronicles: Tyler Hoppes talks about walking on at NU, his breakout season, the Purdue comeback and more

Carriker Chronicles: Tyler Hoppes talks about walking on at NU, his breakout season, the Purdue comeback and more

All year round, former Husker and NFL veteran Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In the "Carriker Chronicles" video series, he breaks down the latest NU news, upcoming opponents, player updates and recruiting information, and he offers his insight into the X's and O's and more.

In Wednesday's episode, Carriker talks to senior tight end Tyler Hoppes about walking on at Nebraska, his breakout season, the Purdue comeback, preparing for the rest of the season and more.

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Here's a transcript from the show: 

ADAM: Welcome everybody to the Carriker Chronicles, the people's show, and it's Wild Card Wednesday where you never know what your're going to get. Hashtag first off, beard-gate, day No. 8, but today I am joined by senior tight end Tyler Hoppes, who had a season-high 105 receiving yards, a touchdown and averaged 21 yards per catch, How you doing there Tyler?

TYLER: Doing good, how are you doing?

ADAM: I'm doing good man. I got to admit, I've been rooting for you all year and I'll explain why. It's because you had offers from other schools, some smaller schools as a scholarship, you turned those down to walk-on at Nebraska. Now in my opinion, in order to get Nebraska back to where it needs to be, we need to elevate the walk-on program again. We need more guys to make the same choice that you did. Now, talk to me about that decision that you made and how you came to the final conclusion that you did.

TYLER: Well, like you said, I had some offers from other schools, and I appreciate them looking out, but I grew up in Lincoln, I always wanted to be in front of this crowd, I grew up watching, going to the games, there's really no place like Nebraska. To play in front of 90,000 great fans, really that's what it came down to, was being in front of everybody and the pride that this university has.

ADAM: Now talk to me, well don't talk to me, talk to the future guys who may be in a similar position to you when their turn comes around, what would you say to those guys, those future players?

TYLER: I would just say that it's a lot of hard work but it's definitely worth it, and once you get your chance and you put in the work and the effort you know, it's definitely worth it playing out there and starting. I would say that's it, it's worth it.

ADAM: Now let's talk about so far this year, what's the one thing you've done the best so far this year, and what's the one thing you think you need to improve on the most the remainder of the season?

TYLER: I think that all year I've been good with catching the ball. I still need to improve on some blocking and I've been working on that everyday in practice as well as catching the ball. I've really started to gain some confidence out there these past few games, so that's really helped and I think the remainder of the season I just need to keep with that confidence and just keep doing what I know I can do.

ADAM: Now, I'm not your teacher, I'm not your coach, so I'm going to ask you to do it, if you had to give yourself a grade on your performance so far this year, what would you give yourself, and don't be afraid to be honest, that's how we roll here on this show.

TYLER: Overall performance this year?

ADAM: Yeah, whatever you'd give yourself.

TYLER: I would say I'm at a B, B+, I would say that there were some down games, but overall I think I've been doing what I need to do.

ADAM: Now, you had a career-high receiving yards on Saturday, talk to me, what was the difference this past Saturday that to those receiving yards against Purdue?

TYLER: We really focused, I mean this whole last week in practice we focused on some plays where we were getting the ball to me more, getting the ball to the tight end, and we saw that they had some open areas in their zone coverage, so we really focused on that, and I think that the difference was Tanner being able to make those throws, and having time to make those throws. We always carried them in the playbook, but I'd say this game is where everything clicked, everything came together, he kind of just threw it up there at times, but trusted me to go down and get it.

ADAM: Now, tight ends have two jobs, obviously the receiving portion of last Saturday's game went well, you talked about blocking earlier, so talk to me about you feel you did blocking on Saturday as well?

TYLER: I thought I was fine, you know all the pass protections I was in when I wasn't out on the route I did my job. Was only in there about 5-6 running plays, but those went well as well. We really had to kind of open up game. We couldn't run the ball that much so kind of stuck to the passing.

ADAM: Now, talk to me about what was the biggest difference between the first three quarters of the game, and the fourth quarter. Because you guys scored more points combined, what was the difference of that fourth quarter?

TYLER: Yeah you know we were struggling, when we get down there on goal line, and we couldn't put it in for a touchdown which we always strive to do. I'd say the difference was kind of getting used to the game as the game goes on you know more things, and the way people play things, and people were making great plays out there. Tanner, all the receivers, the line, everyone was playing how they needed to play to come back and get this win.

ADAM: Now, talk to me about that final drive, the game-winning drive at the end of the fourth quarter. Now this was tied for the largest comeback in school history when it comes to the fourth quarter. Talk to me about what was like on that final drive, and what was Tanner Lee like during that drive as well?

TYLER: It was amazing, in practice every week, we simulate this drill and it really came to life there on Saturday. As I said, everybody's making plays, once the ball is thrown to him, catch the ball, get out of bounds, it looked and worked to perfection. Tanner, if he didn't have his first couple reads, he would check it down, let the running back go get some yards and get out of bounds. So I would say that everything that we practice all year, really came to life in this comeback.

ADAM: So far this year, I would say it's not been a boring year in Husker football. 4-4 record, but I would say this year has not been that boring. You fire an A.D. You get a new A.D. I'm sure you're aware there's all sorts of rumors swirling about Mike Riley. So my question is what have the guys been saying in the locker room, and how as the team been handling all of this outside adversity that's been going on this season?

TYLER: Yeah, you know, you can't help but hear all of it, but you know, in the locker room, it's between the guys. You know how it goes, where we try not to listen to the outside world. But, with all the social media nowadays, people are on there, and me personally, I guess don't have twitter. I don't like to listen to what everybody has to say about it. So really, we're just kind of sticking together in the locker room and just competing every day to get better.

ADAM: Dude, when I played, I never listened to guys like me ever. Good job, but when you're done, then you can grab the mic. All right, good job on that. What are you guys trying to achieve as a goal for the rest of the season? Cause Mike Riley last year, or last week, talked about adjusting the goal, so what are new goals for the rest of the year for this team?

TYLER: Well, you know, I mean obviously we aren't where we needed to be, where we wanted to be, but there's still a lot of season left. As far as proving who we can be, I think what you saw on Saturday was kind of what we've been able to do. We just haven't really showed it, you know. But, I would say the goal for the rest of the year is to just go out there and just play, and just know that anything can happen. You know, we've got some tough games coming up, but whoever is better on that Saturday is going to win the game. It doesn't matter what the record is previous. So, we're just getting better every day at practice, and that's kind of the mindset around here.

ADAM: So you guys are starting your preparation for Northwestern. What have you seen about Northwestern so far that sticks out the most to you?

TYLER: Well, they've got a good run defense. Statistically, they're one of the best, so we're gonna really have to come up with how to handle that, and I know they led us in passing yards. But, if we can run the ball, you know, it's gonna make for a lot better of a game to open up the pass game.

ADAM: Now, I gotta ask a question. Cause we always hear about running the ball, running the ball. Then, the game comes around, we pass 2-1. Now, I honestly don't have a problem at this point with passing the ball more. It's clearly what the coaches want to do. Do you think we're honestly going to run the ball 50 percent of the time, and I know you're not calling the plays. This is kind of an off the cuff question. But, do you think we're really going to be balanced, or do you think we're gonna end up passing the ball more?

TYLER: Yeah, that's a good point. That's how it's been, but to me every week in practice it's been the same. We're really working on running it, and so to me right now, it does feel like we're gonna be about 50-50. But, I know when it comes to game time, we have had to pass it more, and that's just because, you know, other games we've gotten down and things like that. But, I would say the game plan is still to run it about just as much as we pass it.

ADAM: Okay, so if you had to pick out a couple of keys that are extremely important, outside of running-passing being balanced, what are some of the keys that stick out that are really important to you as far as winning this game against a very tough Northwestern team?

TYLER: Like I said, they've got a good defense. Personally, I think our defense can offset their offense. They're putting in the work, but really, it's on us. If we can exploit their defense and be able to run the ball and be able to get some movement up front, then I think our backs are good enough to make people miss at the second level. So, if we can capitalize on that and open it up and throwing it, we'll be fine.

ADAM: Now, the Northwestern game is almost always close. Each and every year, Hail Mary's, down to the wire. All right, are you guys prepare, and I'm sure the answers going to be yes, but I'm going to ask the question anyway. Are you guys prepared for another game winning drive to win a game at the end of the fourth quarter this Saturday?

TYLER: Absolutely. We've had a few games like that already this year, where it came down to the wire, and so, we're always prepared to play as long as we need to.

ADAM: All right, now, I know you don't listen to the media, and I'm gonna give you a hand clap on that as a player, as a current player, but I've got to ask cause you can't help but hear things. So what is the most outrageous thing you've heard said by the media this year, if you could pick one thing?

TYLER: It's tough for me to say cause I said I don't really pay attention to that, but I really couldn't tell you. I really don't get on there like that.

ADAM: You know I once got asked what my favorite tree was by a member of the media. Like what is that? I said banana tree, but I really had no freaking idea. All right man, I want to thank you for joining me. You've got my number. If you ever need anything, hit me up, and this shirt right here is for my boy, Jacob. Apparently, my kids pick out my clothes every day for this show. Thanks for joining me, Tyler. Until tomorrow, Go Big Red and always remember...

TYLER: Throw the bones.

Omaha World-Herald: Carriker Chronicles

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Adam Carriker is a Husker Hall of Famer and NFL veteran. The former Blackshirt and Hastings native was NU's 2004 lifter of the year and in 2005 was NU's defensive MVP and a first-team All-Big 12 pick. He was a first-round pick in the 2007 NFL draft.