Terry Joseph had a strong opinion Friday about the play that led to a targeting penalty and ejection of Nebraska cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste at Purdue.
Only it had to do with what happened immediately after the senior laid out Boilermakers tailback Dalyn Dawkins after a swing pass in the Oct. 12 game.
Jean-Baptiste celebrated by flexing his muscles, first toward the Purdue bench and then back toward the field.
“We don’t need that,” Joseph said at the Big Red Breakfast. “The hit was part of football, but taunting is not what we’re about on defense. He does enough with physical play that we don’t need that. So that’s what I was disappointed in.”
Joseph, the Huskers’ secondary coach, told a crowd at the Ramada Plaza Omaha Hotel and Convention Center that he wouldn’t comment further on the call, but thought it was “a football play.” The admonishing of Jean-Baptiste for his celebration also followed Joseph highlighting on film how well he read the play.
In general, Joseph sees a player performing at a high level for the Nebraska defense.
“He’s doing a good job,” Joseph said. “He’s playing tough, he’s playing physical … but the biggest thing to me is he’s playing confident, because he put in a tremendous amount of work in the offseason and now he’s reaping those rewards.”
Jean-Baptiste has emerged as an All-Big Ten candidate with a team-high four interceptions and six pass breakups. The 6-foot-3 220-pounder also leads NU cornerbacks with 19 tackles.
When talking about the game plan for Saturday at Minnesota, Joseph said that if Nebraska over-commits to the run, its cornerbacks could get left without safety help against some Gopher receivers.
“But,” he said, “I would probably take No. 16 covering anybody in the nation right now in a one-on-one situation.”
Nebraska heads to Minneapolis coming off back-to-back solid defensive efforts and helped by having bye weeks before the Illinois game and after the trip to Purdue.
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That has benefited a unit that has been playing 10 true freshmen or redshirt freshmen fairly regularly.
“The big reason that we’ve played better, in my opinion, is that we had time,” Joseph said. “Time is on our side. Because when you have young guys, the only way that they can gain maturity is through time.
“Time also helped us become better teammates, because I think our guys became closer going through what we had to go through after UCLA.”
Some other Joseph comments:
Ľ Joseph said the Huskers (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) need to “put on our hard hats” for Minnesota (5-2, 1-2).
“We’re going to see a power, running team that’s going to try to run the ball right down our throats. We’re going to have to strap it up. We’re going to have to be ready to tackle. They do not have a running back or a quarterback that’s under 220 pounds.”
Ľ Joseph said junior safety Corey Cooper has been “quietly consistent as NU’s leading tackler with 42. “All he does is play hard, practice hard.”
Ľ Nebraska has recruiting needs at defensive back with Jean-Baptiste, Ciante Evans, Andrew Green and Mohammed Seisay all gone after this season. Joseph said NU has “to go get at least four DBs” and probably two junior-college cornerbacks among them.