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Mickey Joseph had his first “Sports Nightly” interview as Nebraska’s interim head football coach Thursday. The interview was originally scheduled for prime time, 7 pm
Besides, Joseph moved the interview up an hour to 6 p.m. He had a high school game to catch.
It’s been a very busy week for Joseph, who was named the Huskers’ interim head coach last Sunday, the same day Scott Frost was fired after amassing a 16-31 overall record in 47 games. Sitting and putting his feet up is the last thing the Louisiana native wants to do.
During his hour-long interview with host Greg Sharpe, Joseph touched on a host of topics as he prepares his team to face No. 6 Oklahoma (2-0) this weekend. Here are the highlights.
Changes on defense?
One of the biggest problems of the 2022 Huskers was the defense. Defensive coordinator Eric Chinander‘s unit has not stopped the run through three games as opponents average an astounding 5.65 yards per carry.
On Tuesday, Joseph mentioned that he has made adjustments to coaching responsibilities. Along with a former analyst Mike Cassano coaching the receivers in a full-time assistant role, Chinander is still the coordinator, but will coach the safeties now. Travis Fisher only coaches the corners instead of corners and safeties.
“We talked about doing some different things on defense,” Joseph said. “It comes down to gap integrity. We did a really good job this week of being in our gaps.”
Joseph didn’t want to go into specific schematic changes on live radio, saying “that would be a bad idea.”
The coach did mention “you’ll see some changes” but didn’t mention what.
No more Black shirts
Joseph confirmed that he had in fact taken the Black shirts off some of the defensive players. It’s nothing negative, the coach said.
Joseph just wants a fresh start.
“We talked about a new era beginning. Everyone has a clean slate. So we are 0-0,” said Joseph. “Now, it’s like we’re starting from the beginning. So we’re going to practice and win those Black shirts. I’m sure they’ll get them back, but it wasn’t taken away from them because of the game. If we say everybody has a clean slate, well, we have to give other kids a chance to get the Black shirts as well.”
One team, one heartbeat, said Joseph. He will give them back when he thinks he should.
Joseph met with the four captains – plus Casey Thompson
Joseph said he met with the four captains – Nick Henrich, Garrett Nelson, Travis Vokolek and Caleb Tannor — to talk about his vision for the team. But there was another player invited to that meeting – quarterback Casey Thompson.
“I brought all four of them, and I brought Casey, too, because he’s the quarterback,” Joseph said. “I have a good relationship with these guys. And they understood what I wanted to do, and they know it’s going to be a little different. I’m going to be a little more aggressive and a little more in your face. And I demand that you do things right .”
Every player was receptive to the changes, the coach said.
No more music at practice
Joseph made the change from not blasting music at practice, which is common in college football. Why? He wants his team to bring their own energy – that’s what the players have to do in games anyway.
“Energy? That’s what we’re preaching now,” he said. “The kids have a lot of energy. The coaches have a lot of energy. The coaches have a lot of energy. The strength trainers have a lot of energy. Energy must be everywhere in the building. Because I think that’s what pushes you to be great, is that you have the energy to do it.”
Practices were shorter, but faster
When he was a receivers coach, Joseph and Cassano graded their receivers from their game film. The coaches looked for “breaks” where the receivers didn’t go full speed on a play or if they avoided contact. Sometimes, there would be six or seven breads from 70-75 plays, which is too many, said Joseph.
So bunts will be one thing that Joseph will be tracking throughout the team in his new role, not just the receivers.
“This week, I saw effort in practice. I saw it,” said Joseph. “Now, coaches push them. – Hey, let’s run, we run, we move. And everyone shouts the same: ‘Transition, let’s go, let’s go there.’ So practice was shorter, but practice was faster.”
The locker room will never be shared under Joseph’s watch
With Nebraska’s offense largely productive through three games while the defense has struggled to get stops, is Joseph worried about a fracture within the team in the locker room?
Simply put, no.
“This is a high-character team. These are good kids, good boys,” Joseph said. “There’s not going to be finger-pointing. Even when Frost was here, he didn’t allow that. When there was a loss, we put it on the coaches and say, ‘We have to train you better.’”