Nebraska football team conducts its fourth practice of fall camp
tonight. The Huskers, who are in the midst of eight consecutive
practices, will practice at night every day this week, a change from
past fall camps.
caught up with Alonzo Whaley prior to Tuesday's practice to get his
thoughts on the night practices and other aspects of Nebraska's fall
As was the consensus following Monday night's practice, Whaley said the later practices have been a hit with the team.
enjoys it, it's a lot cooler and you get a lot
more down time during the day," Whaley said. "You
have more meeting time during the day, but you get off your feet a lot
more. When practice
comes, guys are a lot more energized."
views the energized practices as beneficial because the fifth-year senior
has noticed that his coaches and teammates are holding themselves to a
higher standard this fall.
"The coaches (set the
standard) but it also trickled down to us and taking control of our team," he said. "It's
not about the coaches taking control, it's more about the players taking
control and letting the coaches do their job. It trickles down from Coach Bo on
down, but at the end of the day us players hold each other accountable to that
and player involvement is key over the first few days of fall camp,
when the defensive unit is expected to gel and learn schemes in a short period of time.
"We focus on
the base things, learning the defense, knowing exactly what you
need to do for your specific spot," Whaley said of early practices.
"Once you get that down, you can learn the defense as a whole. Then you
think like the defensive coordinator and then you think like the
offensive coordinator. You have stages you need to reach to better
yourself as a football player."
When it comes
to reaching more stages, Whaley benefits from being one of three fifth-year seniors in the linebacking corps, along with Will Compton and Sean Fisher. Whaley said the trio's experience not only benefits each
player individually, but also the linebacking group as a whole.
"Us three know the
defense well enough...it allows us to become teachers and coaches to the younger
guys," Whaley said. "We're coaching as well and teaching those younger guys so it helps us
stay up to game on our parts on what we need to do."
That leadership and experience can also be a boost for
first-year defensive coordinator John Papuchis. The nation's youngest
solo defensive coordinator, Papuchis brings a different style to the
Husker defense than in year's past, according to Whaley.
"What he brings to us
is that calmness, he calms us down. But he also wants the best of you," Whaley said of Papuchis. "The
thing he always comes back to is getting our swagger back that we had in 2009,
2010. He holds us to that standard rather than yelling and screaming. He keeps
us calm, yet he wants the best out of us."
fooled by Whaley's word choice. For an individual who describes the
"competition" as the best part of fall camp, Whaley hopes the preseason practices will
simply be the "calm" before the Huskers take the Big Ten by storm this season.
(of this team) are higher than they've been over the course of the five
years that I've been here," he said. "We have our minds set on a championship."