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 Husker defensive back Lamar Jackson about improvements being made on the Nebraska defense, his goals for the NFL draft, 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 Husker defensive back, Lamar Jackson. How are you doing today, Lamar?
Lamar Jackson: I’m doing pretty good, thanks for having me.
Adam Carriker: Yeah man, I want to thank you for joining me. So, much has been said about the defense struggling this season. How would you assess the defense’s performance over the year as a whole, and especially these past couple of games?
Lamar Jackson: I feel like it’s one of those things where we’ve been presented with a bunch of different problems. For the most part, I think that coaches have done a good job of giving us the best looks they can to be prepared for games. Of course, it doesn’t always go how you want it to go, but for the most part, I can honestly say that my guys and anyone that’s included in the defense has done their best to go out there and put up the best fight. When you get to the game, it’s scheme vs. scheme and player vs. player. I feel like we’ve been just coming up short, but the fight has always been there. The grit has always been there. We’ve just been coming up short. Gotta go out there and play four quarters. Have to apply pressure all four quarters if we want to get a win.
I feel like we are going to continue to improve through the adversity, through the losses, the tight games… the bad performances. It’s good and bad every time we break down the film. Everybody has to continue to get better. Obviously we’re not where we want to be as a group. We just have to keep on keeping on, you know? Everybody’s fighting, it’s just one of those things where we keep coming up short here and there.
Adam Carriker: In order to get to where you want to go, and improve on those things you talked about, what are some of the things the coaches have talked about to improve on specifically, on the defensive side of the ball?
Lamar Jackson: It’s little things, like rerouting the receiver when he comes off the line. Edge rushers being selfish and opening up lanes for the runner to cut back through. When you get a chance to hit the quarterback, go for the ball. This is the little stuff that’s going to change the game. The savvy plays that our coaches and everybody expects us to make, but we’re not actually making. That’s the little stuff coach has been talking about. We’re not that far off, but the biggest thing is, no change is going to happen until we make it happen. They’ve been putting a lot of weight on players, including myself, to keep improving and make it happen. Regardless of the scheme or call, it’s man versus man. Just make it happen. Go win. That’s the job. It’s one of those things where we have to get everybody on the collective same page with one goal. We need to filter out distractions and have eleven winners on the field at all times. Eleven guys playing Blackshirt football at all times, so at the end of the day, we can continue to weave through everything and get through the struggles until we find that groove and that balance.
Adam Carriker: Have they done anything to specifically try to work on and address tackling specifically?
Lamar Jackson: When it comes to tackling at the end of the day, 11 men to the ball is going to be the best tackle. When you have guys meeting at the ball carrier, it’s going to be a tackle regardless of the technique. It’s Week 11. We’ve been doing tackling circuits. Tackling is something of course, that we’ve been trying to improve on and want to improve on. Once again, when you’re hitting bags and picking up people and tackling, that’s good as far as your training, but at the same time, it ain’t like we haven’t been doing that. We’ve been doing that all year. We just have to get it to translate. We have to get everybody opening up to do it. Again, there’s not anybody on the team who’s not trying to make tackles, or doesn’t know how to tackle because we do tackling circuits. We go live at least once a week in practice. Even in 7-on-7 they have guys tackling on the perimeter, so it’s just one of those things we have to keep improving on. It’s not like we’re not trying or we’re not aware of it. For the most part, tackling is a mindset. You have to do it and get it down.
Adam Carriker: You became one of the guys that I root for on this team a year ago. Last year, Coach (Scott) Frost came in and sat you down for a little bit. But you came back and it was clear that you had responded in a good way. You clearly embraced that challenge and what he asked you to do. You’ve been a different player ever since. Talk to me about that moment and that decision in that adversity, and why you responded the way you did. That was a moment last year, that I looked at as a great sign for the future, and from this point forward as well. Talk to me about how you handled that time last year.
Lamar Jackson: I appreciate you acknowledging that. It was one of those things where, at the end of the day, you don’t know me as a person, but I’m just a genuine person. I feel like, if there’s a problem, and you tell me about it, I can work on it. Whether it’s technique, behavior, whatever, as long as you show me what I did. Once we were able to figure out that issue and get it fixed and acknowledge it man to man, instantly I put a plan in place, because at the end of the day, where I wanted to go, I had no time for setbacks. I already wasn’t where I wanted to be. I already had to face reality because I got benched. It conflicted with my ego, and it forced me to sit back and self-analyze and accept the situation. It’s a gut-check moment. It was one of those things where, rather than take the easy way out, or complain, or blame, I wanted to just know the problem. I just wanted to express my side.
After that, and the coaches expressed their side, it was clear that it wasn’t emotional. It wasn’t because they don’t like me. They just tole me, be a pro. Leaving the conversation, I felt like they just expected more. They had a predetermined attitude because of the type of person that I was, without really knowing. So the talk was what allowed us to get closer as player and coach. That talk gave me confidence, just knowing that there wasn’t bad blood- it’s just, he wants to win. And I can help him win, so let me use my influence in the right way rather than the wrong way, which I was doing before. Going through the program this year, I see some of the stuff I was doing that got me benched. I see it now in some of our young guys, and I’m the best advocate for them, to teach them not to go through what I had to go through. My leadership is one of those natural things, just me going through what I went through, it allows me to give back to my team. In the most indirect and natural ways, I’m one of the most influential guys on the team. It’s kind of a blessing and a curse, you know, now I have to watch those guys. But it allowed me to propel my way through my junior year and into my senior year. So it’s a blessing. Looking back, I see that I needed it, and I’m happy I was able to stick around.
Adam Carriker: I loved everything you just said. And it’s funny, you talk about just wanting honesty from the coaches. I’ve had people ask me what kind of coach I liked playing for. I’ve had coaches who yelled, screamed, and got one millimeter from your face. I’ve had coaches who were teachers and barely spoke above a whisper. I never cared. What I didn’t like, is if I couldn’t trust my coach. There were some coaches I flat out, didn’t trust. So for him, being honest and real with you, I think that’s something that all players appreciate and can relate to, more than anything else.
My next question: some people might hesitate to ask it, but I’ve been in a similar position and I know how I handled it, so I’m going to ask it anyway. Earlier this year, a mock draft came out. You were in that mock draft, projected to be a first-round draft pick. Obviously, you have a lot of football left to play, that’s the priority this year. But what are your thoughts on that? And if you’ll indulge me, what are your goals and aspirations going into the NFL, as well?
Lamar Jackson: As far as the aspirations, that’s going above and beyond. I got to love football through the struggles and the losing. I’ve been through losing, I know how to lose. But at the same time, I know what it takes to win. I’ve been through change and inconsistency throughout my career, forcing me to adapt. And just be adaptable to life. I feel like, once show people that I’m continually improving in my techniques and form, everything that is supposed to happen will happen. The real stuff is going to come out. I’m going to show people that I’m a different type of athlete. Show people that I’m capable of going above and beyond. Show people that my best football is in front of me. I’m excited about the future because I know what kind of effort I’m putting into being the player I want to be. At the end of the day, a mock draft is a mock draft. It’s not real.
I just watched Mr. 1,000, Stanley Morgan Jr. go undrafted. That’s one of my closest friends and I watched it happen. I look up to him like a brother. He was one of the best, if not the best, to come through here and was undrafted. Stuff like that hit home for me, before the season started. Of course, seeing my name in a mock draft is a blessing, but it’s not real. What happens in April depends on what happens the rest of the season moving forward. Each time I do something, whether it’s a bowl game, practice, or combine, I’m going to show up with my best foot forward. On a mission, with a chip on my shoulder to show that I’m really different. It’s just clicking though. It didn’t click a couple years ago, but it’s clicking now. This shows that I set myself up in a position going forward to set my family up for the future. I plan on capitalizing on every opportunity possible.
Adam Carriker: One last question for ya. Obviously, no one can predict the future, but what can Husker fans expect to see from the team, effort and mentality-wise, as you fight these last two games to potentially go to a bowl game?
Lamar Jackson: I feel like our coaching staff and leaders aren’t going to let anybody let up. It’s a less than two-week season. We’re going to keep learning and moving to try to get a win. Our coaches are doing a great job preparing us, day by day. We just have to do our part. Fans can expect the Huskers to continue to improve through the two games, continue to play hard, and hopefully the outcome is a success.
Adam Carriker: Alright, man I want to thank you for joining me. Good luck these last few games, and good luck with your future endeavors with the NFL as well. Until next time, Husker Nation- Go Big Red, and always remember…
Lamar Jackson: Throw the 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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