Eric Chinander Talks Defense Ahead of Huskers Opener

Following practice Tuesday, defensive coordinator Erik Chinander met with members of the media over video conference to discuss the defense ahead of the season opener against Ohio State.

Chinander spoke on the outside linebackers’ progress during this atypical offseason.

“There’s a lot of different faces that are going to play depending on packages. I think there has been a ton of progress. I think their understanding of what they are trying to do is getting better and better each day,” Chinander said.

He also noted his confidence in the defensive line headed into Saturday.

“Coach (Tony) Tuioti has done a great job with those guys, getting them ready to play even when they were young and developing,” Chinander said. “You have guys like Ben Stille, Damion Daniels and Deontre Thomas who have played in a lot of game reps for us and have given us really good game reps. They have continued to grow. So, you have confidence in those guys and then you have confidence in the young guys that have accelerated their learning curve, so I feel really good about what they can do.”

When it comes to building the travel roster this season, Chinander sees current protocols and eligibility rulings as an opportunity to have more flexibility in personnel that travel for games.

“Now, with no redshirts, it’s the guys that are going to play in the game. You have more of those guys to use, so you can use some of those redshirt guys on special teams and not worry about running them down just on kickoff. Now you can use everybody,” Chinander said.

Chinander spoke on the team’s preparation for the unfamiliar stadium atmosphere they will face with no fans permitted in Big Ten stadiums.

“We always have noise at practice, whether that be crowd noise or music. The Big Ten has set a decibel limit for what you can play in the stadium at what times and our guys are practicing that a little bit for our games, so they can get a taste for what it’s going to be like,” Chinander said.

Despite the challenges that come with opening the season against a conference opponent, Chinander recognizes the importance of this weekend’s game to both teams.

“This game means the world to us. I’m sure it means the world to Ohio State. They are going to open their playbook and give us the wrinkles they worked on in the offseason and we need to be ready to match those when they come out,” Chinander said. “I think that is the biggest difference in a game like this. You are going to see some things you aren’t ready for and you have to be ready to adapt and adjust.”

Nebraska kicks off in Columbus on Saturday at 11 a.m. CT with television coverage by FOX.