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 NU senior Eric Lee about his breakout game against South Alabama, his pick-six, defensive improvements and more.
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Here's a transcript from today's show:
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. Real quick, if you’re wondering why I’m wearing the same shirt I wore on the show yesterday, well, it’s because I went into college mode. I put this shirt on before I went to bed; when I woke up it was the first thing I saw and I put it on! It’s alright, sometimes you just gotta live life and not worry. But today I’m joined by Mr. Eric Lee Jr., Husker defensive back. He had a couple interceptions in the season opener vs South Alabama and took one of those picks back for a touchdown, how you doing today Eric?
Eric Lee: Good, how are you doing?
Adam Carriker: I’m doing good. First I want to talk a little bit about the game Saturday then we’ll move to the upcoming game vs Colorado. Talk (to us) about earning your spot. Earning your stripes. Perseverance. Waiting. Being a 5th year senior, getting your opportunity, through that whole process and earning your opportunity and taking advantage of it on Saturday.
Eric Lee: It definitely hasn’t been an easy road. It will test your patience a lot. But I told myself to just keep working, keep working. Good things will happen when you do so, and I was blessed enough to make some plays Saturday that were able to help us get a win.
Adam Carriker: Now when you got that first interception, I believe you took it to the house, what was that like? What was that feeling for you? Explain the emotions, the excitement and a little bit of that to the fans.
Eric Lee: It didn’t hit me until I got in the end zone, then I just realized that I had just checked one of the big things off my list. I had always wanted to do that when I committed here! It’s an unreal experience when you just hear the crowd going nuts and you’re one of the reasons for that. It’s an awesome experience to go through.
Adam Carriker: Now talk to me about the second interception, what that feeling was like—getting two picks in one game, a season opener like this. Talk about that.
Eric Lee: It just felt good to get another pick. Just grow and grow. I told Cam Taylor after he got his pick, when we were both tied for interceptions (with one each), that I was going to get one more to outdo him, so we just have that healthy competition that keeps us striving for more and more.
Adam Carriker: I like that, I like it a lot. Now you may not know this, but I had an interception in my career. I had one! And I’ll give you one guess as to how many return yards I had.
Eric Lee: I’m gonna go with…23
Adam Carriker: You’re very, very very kind! I had negative one. I ran backwards for a yard and got tackled. So you did a lot better than I did! Talk about the improvements by the defense and some of the reasons for that. I mean the obvious ones are another year in the scheme, you guys are a little bit more familiar, but talk about some of the other things that have contributed to the improvement, at least through game 1.
Eric Lee: I think one of the biggest things is just accountability, we’re all holding each other accountable, just to make sure we know the playbook. When things like that happen, the coaches start to trust us more and they open up their playbook, then we don’t run all the vanilla stuff anymore, we can run the twists and all the different turns and stuff they have planned for us. As long as we keep picking up the material, they (coaches) keep challenging us. We hold ourselves accountable to learn it, we execute it on Saturday and I think that’s just one big thing that’s helped us increase our play this year.
Adam Carriker: I saw Mo Barry Friday before the game and he said one of the biggest things that stuck out to him was practice. How you guys are practicing is very different and the approach. So talk to us about practice from your perspective and how that’s different from a year ago.
Eric Lee: A lot of people, when they hear “practice”, they dread it. But we embrace it. We (the defense) want to give the offense as good of a look as we can, so we want to go hard for them, they want to go hard for us. At the end of the day, we want to be the best look our offense will play. We just try to make each other better and promote a lot of healthy competition.
Adam Carriker: How much better do you think this defense can be than last year? A lot of guys back—how much improved can you guys be over the course of the season? I don’t know if you can expect 5 turnover and 2 defensive touchdowns every game realistically going forward but how improved can you guys be this season?
Eric Lee: I think we can be a lot better than we were last season. I think we’re a lot more disciplined team when it comes to penalties and stuff. There were a lot of times we should have been off the field but we’d get a late hit call there, a roughing the passer, so I think discipline increases a tremendous amount. I think that’s one of the biggest factors.
Adam Carriker: Coach Chinander, the defensive coordinator, talked to me about some of the things he said throughout camp. Talked to me about what he said before and after the game. The message he’s trying to preach and relay to you guys — what are the main things he’s trying to drive home with you guys?
Eric Lee: Just play hard, go 100% all the time and if you can’t play hard, go have someone else come in and they’ll play just as hard if not harder. So mainly just letting it loose. Don’t think too much. Know your assignments, know your calls and once your know that, once you get to Saturday it’s just flying around, firing on all cylinders and just letting loose.
Adam Carriker: I love that. I spoke to the D line before the game Saturday, and ya know, the D line coach asks me if I have any words of wisdom. “Football is a complicated game—for the coaches. For the players it ain't that hard. It’s three things. Play fast, hit hard, have fun. Line up. Repeat. Play fast, hit hard, have fun. Rinse and repeat. It's very complicated for the coaches, and that’s why they’re coaches. You said it best man, just line up, play fast, hit hard and have fun. That’s the best thing to do. So talk to me about the Colorado game, alright? Obviously you guys are fresh off this game, but talk to me about the Colorado game, what that means to you guys, the way the game ended last year. Is there a little bit of Hey we owe you one? What’s your attitude heading into Boulder?
Eric Lee: We definitely have a sour taste in our mouth from last year and seeing them run across our field and celebrating didn’t sit too well with us so we’re approaching practice like “if you’re not going full speed in practice, if you don’t know what you’re doing in practice, that should piss you off. You need to get yourself together and like our coach said, your “piss should be on fire.” You want to go out on their field and, we owe them one.
Adam Carriker: “Your piss should be on fire!” I like that! I used to say, when I was growing up, that Grant Wistrom’s hair was on fire. Now I’m gonna say “Your piss should be on fire!” I like that even better. I won’t use it with my 9-year-old's football team. I may refrain from that with them. What’s the biggest thing going into this Colorado game? What the biggest key defensively. What’s the biggest thing you’d like to accomplish to getting the win this Saturday in Boulder?
Eric Lee: I think the biggest thing for us is just executing the game plan, and besides that, just making sure we have all 11 hats on the ball. I believe if we do that, the coaches, like you said, they got the hard job! The coaches are going to put us in the best defense possible to play. If we can execute and get all 11 hats to the ball, we should come out with a victory.
Adam Carriker: Who are some of the guys on defense that maybe people don’t know about yet or don’t know as much about that have really stuck out during fall camp, going into week 1, now going into week 2?
Eric Lee: Eli Sullivan, a walk on kid from Colorado. The kid is extremely bright when it comes to football, he goes head to head with the coaches on calls and personnel and stuff and he’s a tough guy too. Another person is Will Honas. I know he’s a starter but just being able to see Will come back from that injury and see how fast he’s running and flying around to the ball, it’s always good!
Adam Carriker: Yeah, he’s definitely a guy that stuck out to me when I watched you guys as well. If you had to name—and I think Mo Barry is going to be an obvious name — who are the big leaders on defense? Lots has been made of the leadership and the culture change going into this year.
Eric Lee: Yeah Mohamed Barry’s name definitely gets brought up in that conversation, but I’d like to say Dicaprio Bootle. He stepped up a tremendous amount. A lot of people on the team respect him, when he has something to say, everyone stops and listens, so he’s one of those people who might not seem like he’s a leader of the group, but he is inside the team.
Adam Carriker: Alright man, I want to thank you for joining me, and good luck this Saturday. Go beat the Puffs — I mean the Buffs! Until next time Husker Nation, Go Big Red, and always remember…
Eric Lee: THROW THE BONES!
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