LINCOLN — Nebraska defensive line coach Tony Tuioti has a list of six things his players must do to earn a Blackshirt.
He listed them in one breath in an interview Tuesday night on the “Sports Nightly” radio show.
“That’s No. 1 being passionate, No. 2 being accountable, No. 3 being relentless, No. 4 tough, No. 5 productive and No. 6 coming to compete every day,” Tuioti said. “That’s a challenge every single day I present to those guys.”
Most of his players, if not all, earned all six check marks in the spring, he said.
With fall camp just around the corner, Tuioti broke down his defensive line. The newest assistant coach, hired in the spring, said he likes the depth of his group and the way players approached spring practice.
Nebraska’s front seven weren’t great last year, allowing 5.0 yards per rush and 195.8 rushing yards per game. Those numbers ranked 12th and 11th in the Big Ten last season, respectively.
Nebraska was also sixth in the conference in sacks, with 25 in 12 games.
Tuioti foresees improvements across the board from his group for 2019.
“Quite a few guys I feel really, really good about being able to affect the quarterback,” Tuioti said.
The first are the Davis twins, Carlos and Khalil. The seniors are going to have a big year, Tuioti predicted. He called them “true combo guys” who can be stout in the run game and can get to the quarterback.
“True three-down players,” Tuioti said.
Tuioti also has high expectations for the Daniels brothers, Darrion and Damion. Darrion, a graduate transfer from Oklahoma State, has become the vocal leader inside the room. He gained respect almost immediately, Tuioti said.
“Darrion is a vocal guy that shows by example, and he cares about his teammates,” Tuioti said. “And those guys can see that, and that’s why they play so hard. They don’t want to let him down.”
Tuioti called Damion the “big, war daddy” nose guard Nebraska needs. But he still needs to work on his endurance.
Besides all the siblings, Tuioti said he likes the leadership of junior Ben Stille, who brings young guys up to the offices to watch film all the time. He, too, should be able to get to the quarterback this year. And Tuioti said he could see senior Vaha Vainuku finding the field, especially against bigger teams like Wisconsin and Iowa.
Teams that line up with two tight ends, or a tight end and two backs, shouldn’t bully Nebraska like they have in the past, Tuioti said.
“We’re confident and stout up front to be able to go big if we need to,” he said.