What a difference a year makes.

At the start of each training camp, football coaches take a few practices to “install” their schemes by introducing, then practicing, the basic tenets of their system. For defensive coordinator Erik Chinander, that process has two prongs to it in 2019.

Nebraska has a lot of seasoned veterans on defense — 21 scholarship juniors and seniors — and 15 scholarship freshmen.

“Kind of an ‘older guy’ install and ‘younger guy’ install,” Chinander said.

Chinander, in his second season as defensive coordinator, can already see, after four days of practice, the difference between this camp and last summer.

Nebraska’s defenders are bigger and stronger. They better understand the scheme and their role in it. And they’re doing the one thing Chinander loves most — creating more takeaways.

“Today, for instance, I think we grabbed three or four balls in interceptions and stripped a couple out,” Chinander said. “What happens in practice shows up on Saturday. Right now, it’s happening in practice.”

The focus of defenders is “dramatically different” than it was last year, Chinander said. No wandering eyes or “poking my buddy, giggling in the back” during walk-through portions of practice. Leadership is good, Chinander said, as is “followership.” When leaders talk — including from offense — others listen.

Freshmen, including defensive backs Quinton Newsome, Noa Pola-Gates, Javin Wright and Myles Farmer, have “done some really, really good things” but “hit the rookie wall a little bit.” Nebraska’s practices and lifting regimen is more rigorous than high school.

“I think they might be getting a little heavy-legged,” Chinander said. He anticipated the four freshman defensive backs would help on special teams, at the very least, and perhaps on defense.

Chinander is happy to have Dewitt back at practice full time after he battled cancer during the winter and spring.

“Just having him out there is a high morale for all of us,” Chinander said. “It’s getting a member of your family back.”

More quick hits from NU's practice: 

» Junior inside linebacker Collin Miller is having a strong camp thus far, Chinander said. Bigger, stronger and faster. Miller said he's learning both inside linebacker spots and rotating on snaps with Mohamed Barry and Will Honas, who said he's 100 percent after recovering from his second ACL tear in four years. 

» Outside linebacker JoJo Domann is not cleared to join camp at this point, Dewitt said. No reason was given, but Domann was not at NU's Fan Day last week. 

Chinander said it's important to keep Domann healthy and added that, because Domann is up to 225-230 pounds, he can be versatile in Nebraska's defense. 

» Sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez and freshman receiver Wan'Dale Robinson are turning heads in camp, Chinander said. 

"That guy is pretty special," Chinander said of Robinson. "I don't know what his role's gonna be or if he knows what he's doing — I don't coach that side of the ball — but when he gets the ball in space, it's a problem. Their skill guys look really good." 

Chinander said Dedrick Mills has been a "nice addition at running back." 

» At defensive back, the four freshmen have looked good, coaches said. Secondary coach Travis Fisher said Quinton Newsome in particular has been among the strongest players. 

Reporter - Nebraska athletics

Sam covers Nebraska football, recruiting, women's basketball and more for The World-Herald. Follow him on Twitter @swmckewonOWH. Email: SMcKewon@owh.com

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