Michigan State vs. Nebraska, 11.17

Nebraska defensive coordinator Erik Chinander looks on during warmups prior to the Michigan State game Nov. 17 at Memorial Stadium.

Nebraska is a 4-8 football team until the Huskers prove they aren't.

That's the message NU defensive coordinator Erik Chinander is trying to drive into his players as fall camp rolls on. And that was a big part of the value in Sunday's scrimmage that matched 1s against 1s, 2s against 2s, etc.

"I’m trying to instill in them, we’re 4-8 until we prove differently. So you guys better play with a chip on your shoulder and we better not come out flat," Chinander said Tuesday. "Because until we win on October 31 or September 7 or whenever the games are, we’re still a 4-8 football team and that’s what everyone perceives you as right now, and it’s up to us to prove them wrong."

The Blackshirts took a shot early Sunday, as Adrian Martinez and the top offensive unit delivered the opening blow. But, things got better. That's a good step for a unit that finished 88th nationally last season in points allowed.

"The overall theme for the defense was, when we had busts, assignment errors, communication errors, the offense was very productive. When we were all on the same page we were pretty salty," Chinander said. "I thought the first group tackled well, second and third groups need to get a little better. I thought we were physical when we needed to be."

Nebraska may never be a lock-down defensive unit. The way the Huskers want to play simply won't allow it most days. But what NU can do is adjust when things start to go sideways, and that trait appears to be coming out this August.

"The offense came out and punched us in the mouth and had some big plays, and after that, especially the first group, they really tightened it down and really played some good football," Chinander said. "Would I like to just go shut the whole thing down every series? Absolutely, but then I got a whole new bag of problems. Then it’s feeling good and trying to reel them back in.

"I liked how it went because we got knocked down right away then came back and did our job. So there’s a little bit of butt-chewing I can do, so I liked where it was at."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7436 or cbasnett@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.

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