LINCOLN — Mickey Joseph wants hunters. He’s seen plenty the last two days.
The Nebraska interim coach hasn’t always noticed that mentality on the field this season. After 48 hours in which he’s witnessed players and coaches accept and go all in on their current situation, he expects it show up Saturday night against Indiana.
“You don’t want to sit back and let them hunt you,” Joseph said Thursday. “You want to hunt as a football team. We want to be aggressive coming out.”
Indiana’s pass-heavy, quick-paced offense in particular will provide a challenge to that goal. Defensive backs — potentially tasked with defending 50-plus passes — need to play the calls and use their technique, Joseph said. The unit as a whole has shown improvement tackling during the week as coaches have emphasized that skill. The next step is seeing it in the game.
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It’s a united group under new defensive coordinator Bill Busch, Joseph said. Player leaders — including defensive co-captains in edge rushers Garrett Nelson and Caleb Tannor along with inside linebacker Nick Henrich — have helped smooth the transition through the bye week.
“We cut some calls out, we simplified it,” Joseph said. “We’re doing what they can do. They’ve bought in. I think they’re going to fly around. They’re in a good spot right now, the defense.”
Other notes from Joseph:
» The coach declined to get into other specifics about Saturday. Asked how the game-day responsibilities would be divvied up among coaches — including who would be in the press box and who would be on the sidelines — Joseph said, “I’ll let you see that on Saturday.”
As for any injury updates?
“I’ll let you talk to Mark (Mayer) about that,” said Joseph, referring to Nebraska head football athletic trainer Mark Mayer. Mayer typically does not do media interviews.
» The bye week helped everyone on the team get reset, Joseph said, and that includes an offensive line that continues to look for its best combination. Left guard Turner Corcoran is sliding out to left tackle in the wake of the season-ending injury to Teddy Prochazka while Ethan Piper will fill in at left guard.
“At the end of the day, (offensive line coach) Donnie (Raiola) is going to get his best five on the field,” Joseph said. “That’s what we’re trying to do — get our best five on the field.”
» Joseph’s second game as head coach will be personally different than the first, he said, in the sense that he now has experience in the role. But his approach won’t change.
“We’re going to detail everything, we’re going to coach them up until kickoff and when they come out of the locker room it’s our job to have them ready to play,” Joseph said.
Nebraska football 2023 commits
Dwight Bootle, CB, Miami, Florida
Benjamin Brahmer, WR, Pierce, Nebraska
I am excited to announce I am officially committing to the University of Nebraska. I want to thank God for blessing me. I want to thank Coach Ruud, Coach Beckton, and Coach Frost for believing in me. I would like to thank my parents, grandparents and sisters for their support. pic.twitter.com/oozxpywt8j— Benjamin Brahmer (@BenjaminBrahmer) April 2, 2021