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Husker notes: For Nebraska's defensive backs, there's 'no time to give praise'

Husker notes: For Nebraska's defensive backs, there's 'no time to give praise'

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Travis Fisher marks improvements in Myles Farmer, Quinton Newsome and Marques Buford

Myles Farmer is in his third year as a Nebraska defensive back, so he knows the story with secondary coach Travis Fisher.

“It’s intense,” Farmer said. “You’re going to compete every day. That’s the culture of the DB room.”

In training camp — and during the season — Fisher is long on honest critiques and short on effusive praise.

“This is all about work, not taking credit,” Fisher said. “This is all about work and it’s no time to give praise. It’s time to work.”

He tends to make exceptions for newcomers and freshmen. He praised Tyreke Johnson, the Ohio State transfer whose 10th Husker practice was Tuesday, by saying he “fit right in,” and also freshman Marques Buford, who missed spring with a knee injury but has become a “sponge” for learning and looks “like he never had an injury.”

There’s a reason behind all this. Fisher doesn’t want his older players — especially the three likely starters — to ever feel comfortable with their spot on the team.

“It’s cool because I know that’s the type of coach he is,” said sophomore cornerback Quinton Newsome, who’s vying for the starting job opposite Cam Taylor-Britt. “He doesn’t want anybody to get big-headed like you have a spot. You can’t get complacent. He tries to keep us going and make sure nobody really feels too comfortable. He just lets me go hard.”

Newsome feels far more capable to take the field this season for the Huskers, having learned under Fisher for two seasons. He knows about where and how to align against receivers and how to get more physical with bigger pass-catchers.

Farmer has also grown as a player, despite losing part of last season to a freak ankle injury.

“I’d have you here all day trying to tell you what I’ve learned,” Farmer said. “A lot since I’ve been here. It’s college football, it’s not high school anymore. My football IQ has raised up.”

'Ooh that boy is big'

Deontre Thomas’ eyes got a little bigger when describing Nebraska’s newest — and biggest — defensive lineman.

“When I first saw Jailen Weaver, I was like, ‘Ooh, that boy is big,’” Thomas said. “The first thing I thought was he can help this defense a lot.”

Weaver (6-foot-8 and about 380 pounds) might be the largest player in Husker football history. Thomas and nose tackle Damion Daniels have made a pet project out of Weaver’s development and improved eating habits.

“Damion went through kind of the same process, (and) also me, (so) we can kind of relate to his situation,” Thomas said. “So we know how to talk to him and bring him with us. We know how to talk to him and bring him up under our wing.

“Before he got here, the COVID year, I think he was maybe on the couch eating a lot. He got big. When he came here he was out of shape. So we’ve got to get him back into shape, because it’s not high school, it’s the Big Ten. Once we get him in shape, get him conditioned right, he’s going to be unstoppable.”

Thomas (6-2, 285) once wondered if he had a role in Erik Chinander’s defense after coach Scott Frost took over. Defensive line coach Tony Tuioti believed he did, and taught him how to use his frame.

“He taught me how I could use my size and leverage to play,” Thomas said. “When he taught me that, that made my (confidence) go way higher.”

Give JoJo a rest

JoJo Domann almost never came off the field last year at outside linebacker, but Chinander said his snap count can’t be that hefty over a 12-game regular season. Chinander said NU has developed depth behind the senior known for his versatility in coverage and stopping the run. That includes freshman Isaac Gifford, redshirt freshman Javin Wright and a pair of walk-ons in sophomore Simon Otte and redshirt freshman John Bullock.

“I think we have the opportunity to get JoJo a little rest this year and hopefully get all those guys playing on special teams as well,” Chinander said. “It’s going to be hard for him to take the same workload for a full season.”

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