All year round, former Husker and NFL veteran Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In the "Carriker Chronicles" video series, he breaks down the latest NU news, upcoming opponents, player updates and recruiting information, and he offers his insight into the X's and O's and more.
On Wednesday's episode, Adam Carriker talks to senior captain Darrion Daniels about the Blackshirts' success in 2019, playing with his brother, Damian Daniels, the different coaching styles of Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy and NU coach Scott Frost and more.
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Here's a transcript of today's show:
Adam Carriker: Welcome to the Carriker Chronicles, the people’s show, where we’re checking the pulse of Husker Nation! Brought to you by Nebraska Spine Hospital. Today, I am joined by Blackshirt and Husker senior captain, Darrion Daniels. How are you doing, my friend?
Darrion Daniels: I’m doing well, how bout yourself?
Adam Carriker: Oh man, I’m good. I want to thank you for joining me. We’re about one-third of the way through the Husker’s season so far, heading into Big Ten play. Talk to me about what you’ve seen so far from the defense, and what you’d like to see improved.
Darrion Daniels: So far, we’ve done an exceptional job of bringing a lot of intensity to the field. We’ve done a great job of defending the run as well. One thing I think we need to improve on going into the Big 10 is cleaning up the mental errors. I think we’ve done a great job of doing our assignments, but we can do a better job of not just doing the assignment, but executing the assignment and not having any mental errors at all.
Adam Carriker: Now what’s the key, because there’s two things that stood out to me with the Blackshirt defense so far. No. 1 has been stopping the run. No. 2 has been forcing turnovers. You guys are averaging about three turnovers per game. Against the run, you’re giving up less than three yards per carry. Most defenses would like to keep the opponent under four yards, or three and a half, but you guys are keeping them under three. What’s been the key to success as far as forcing turnovers, and the run defense so far this year?
Darrion Daniels: As far as the run defense, the key for the defensive linemen has been being very key on our techniques; you know, hands, feet, eyes… seeing the formation and getting to the right spot before the play starts because we know where it’s gonna go. That’s been huge for us. The linebackers, you know they play with their heads on fire. They do a great job of cleaning up our mess, if we get too trigger happy and shoot a gap, they’re always right there where we left. That’s huge. As far as turnovers, we have a lot of ball hawks. We have a lot of guys on defense who do everything they can to be around the ball. That’s a big thing on defense, just playing with your hair on fire and getting after it.
Adam Carriker: Alright, so tomorrow, let’s say you get a random day off and all the defensive linemen walk into the weight room. Who’s the strongest defensive lineman on the team?
Darrion Daniels: Oh, DJ (Damian Jackson) hands down.
Adam Carriker: Okay, that was quick and easy. I thought you might say the Davis twins, or try to pump yourself up a little, but it’s Damian Jackson is what you’re saying.
Darrion Daniels: Oh yeah, the twins are freaks of nature, but the way D Jacks lifts, it’s like perfect form. Everything is stupid weights… the twins, when they lift, they throw up heavy weights, and it’s easy, but you can tell it’s heavy. With him, everything is so tight and controlled, it’s like, is he lifting any weight at all?
Adam Carriker: It’s that Navy Seal strength is what it is! (Yeah, that’s what it is.) Alright, so as a Husker Captain, what’s been- first of all, you were a captain at Oklahoma State, and now you’re a captain here at Nebraska. What’s it like being the captain of two different teams, and why do you think that is? You don’t have to be modest, you can give me an honest answer here.
Darrion Daniels: I think the main reason for that is me doing the little things right. That’s one thing my parents always preached to us. Every coach I’ve had prior to me coming here told me to do the little things right. That’s one thing I try to focus on, is doing the little things right. Things like picking up the trash in the locker room, just stuff like that. Everyone sees it, and even when they don’t, I try to always do the right thing. You never know who’s watching, and apparently a lot of my teammates were watching and thought I was worthy enough to be voted a captain.
Adam Carriker: What has your message been? The team as a whole showed that they needed to improve after the game against South Alabama. You dominated for three quarters and then the fourth quarter goes the way it does at Colorado. You dominated against Northern Illinois, and I think people forget, they are a better team than your typical non power 5 team. What’s your message been to the team as one of the captains going into this week against Illinois?
Darrion Daniels: Just get better than you were the day before. That’s always something I try to preach. Every day I get out there, I want to be better than we were yesterday. We had a successful game against Northern Illinois. But watching the film, I can tell that there’s a lot we need to get better in all three phases of the game. One thing I try to reiterate is be better than the day before. If you make a mental mistake today, don’t make it again tomorrow. That’s the kind of thing that’s gonna help us is finding our mistakes from the day before and correcting them.
Adam Carriker: This is not any sort of trap question, this is something I’m interested. The coach at Oklahoma State, Mike Gundy, is an interesting dude. You see sound bites online from some of his press conferences, he’s got the fun hair. So, this is not a trap question, I’m interested. Talk about some of the differences between Mike Gundy, the coach at Oklahoma State, and Scott Frost, the coach here at Nebraska.
Darrion Daniels: One major difference- they’re both very calm. I rarely see Coach Frost with veins puffing out his neck, same with coach Gundy, they’re very calm on the sidelines. One different thing that I have noticed is their approach to practice. Gundy was a quarterback, that was his thing in college. Coach Frost, he was a quarterback, he was a DB, a DC, and an OC, so he was experienced on both sides of the ball. So there’s been times in practice where he’ll pull the defense aside and tell them what they did wrong because he has that experience. Same with the (offense) you know, he can go to the offensive side and take a look and tell them what needs to be fixed because he has that experience.
Adam Carriker: What is the most fun thing about playing in Erik Chinander’s defense? He’s an aggressive, attacking style, wants to blitz out of this 3-4. What’s the most fun thing about playing in his defense?
Darrion Daniels: It’s confusing. That’s the good part about it, you don’t know who’s coming, at all. It keeps offenses on their toes. Another thing, he takes the leash off of us. He lets the D Line do pretty much whatever we want- go right, left, backwards, forwards. He gives us the luxury of playing fast, and that’s what the best part is. There’s so many different looks, and so many similar looks that do different things. It makes things a lot easier for the D Line, because the offense can’t cheat, they have to play it honest. As Defensive Linemen, we’re more athletic than the Offensive Linemen, so him putting us in those positions to move, get out, and use our speed, it’s huge, and that’s the best part about playing in this system.
Adam Carriker: You hear that, people? Defensive linemen are more athletic than offensive linemen. You heard it here! I once had an offensive lineman with the Rams tell me, “You know, you defensive linemen are stupid. See ball, get ball.” I’m like, “Yeah, offensive linemen can’t move, you’re like a bunch of unathletic statues.” So we would go back and forth with that and have some fun. One last question. What’s it like playing with your brother, Damion Daniels? What’s it like to come in here, and playing alongside each other on the line, what’s that like playing with your brother?
Darrion Daniels: It’s phenomenal. Anything he can do, I can do better. If my brother makes a play, I gotta go make a big play. It’s extra motivation. There’s a way that we can talk to each other that nobody, not even coaches, can do. There’s nerves that we can pinch that pulls out the best in both of us. I hold my brother to a higher standard than anybody else, and if I hold him to that standard, I have to hold myself to that same standard. He’s quick to call me out on anything. If I take a break at practice, or he sees me cruising or jogging, he’s like “Nah, bruh, that’s not gonna fly, you’re better than that.” That’s something I missed from High School, playing with each other. We bring out the best in each other in a way that nobody else could.
Adam Carriker: I like that, “Anything you can do, I can do better, I can do anything better than you.”* I like that! Alright, I want to thank you for joining me, good luck not only Saturday, but the rest of the season as well! Until Next time, Husker Nation, Go Big Red, and always remember….
Darrion Daniels: THROW THEM BONES!!!
Thanks again to the Nebraska Spine Hospital. Ladies and gentlemen, when it’s your spine, you do not want to mess around. Experience matters. That’s why you can trust the experts at Nebraska Spine Hospital, the region's only spine specific hospital. They are the best at what they do.
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