LINCOLN, Neb. — There are no secrets between defensive coordinator Bob Diaco and his players. So much so, each player knew what to expect for Arkansas State on Thursday of last week.
“We set those participation patterns weekly,” Diaco said after practice on Monday. “In fact, every player on defense knew exactly how much they were going to play on Thursday. We do a diligent job there with the players what their participation patterns are all things being equal for game day.”
Diaco got onto the subject of participation patterns because of senior Kieron Williams. Williams led the Huskers in interceptions in 2016, and was also considered one of the defense’s top tacklers. But when the first depth chart of the 2017 season was unveiled, Williams was listed third at safety behind Joshua Kalu and Marquel Dismuke.
So, why the drop? It comes down to evaluation for Diaco.
“We’re really pleased with Kieron,” Diaco said. “He plays a vital role for our team and he’s really doing a nice job with his role. No one is disappointed in him. He’s a wonderful teammate. I’m glad to be on the team with him in the role that he’s serving. We grade every player on every play, every day. That’s where his evaluation [came] out.”
With that in mind, future participation patterns will continue to be out in the open. Could Williams move up? Absolutely, and if he is, it’ll be communicated as such.
“We stay on top of it and it’s not a secret,” Diaco said. “We don’t communicate and cloak and dagger. It’s out in the open. It’s all reinforced with video cutups and situated that way.”
More from Bob Diaco
• The Blackshirts’ primary goal on Saturday was limiting Arkansas State’s explosive plays that could result in points. With that in mind, Diaco thought the defense handled the plan well.
“The longest run was 14. The longest pass was 29,” Diaco said Monday. “Both of those players were hit at or near the line of scrimmage. The run had 10 yards of YAC yardage, yards after contact. The pass had 22 yards of yardage after contact. That pass was the only pass over 20 yards. We had a plan to have them put plays together, as many as they needed to that eventually a drive would stall, an error would happen, an interception, a third-down we got off the field, a red zone stop, and that was going to be the tale of the tape.”
• Diaco confirmed what coach Mike Riley had said about post-game availability of coordinators on Saturday, saying it was a miscommunication on expectations. He said everything is now situated and will be executed as such going forward.
“I’ve never run away from anything in my life,” said Diaco about not meeting with reporters after the game. “I’ve never not stood up and been accountable and responsible for my work and what I’m been entrusted to do. That’s never happened and will not ever happen.”
• Diaco is familiar with Oregon coach Willie Taggart after having faced him while Diaco was at UConn and Taggart at South Florida. The two likely know what to expect from the other.
“I would think that Coach [Taggart] has a pretty good idea of the things I like to do and I’ve got a pretty good idea of the things he likes to do,” Diaco said. “They’re just getting started. We’re just getting started, so there’s part of that and a growth-development process. This isn’t instant by any means.”
Diaco also noted that Taggart’s teams often run the ball and run it well. That’s something he’s preparing the Blackshirts for over this week.
• When it came to halftime adjustments against Arkansas State, Diaco was happy with what his assistants and players accomplished. While he wishes it didn’t have to be that close at the end, he feels the experience is not a bad thing.
“It’s probably like a Garth Brooks song, you know the Unanswered Prayers,” Diaco said. “We probably got the best thing for the team that we needed, although you get the feeling that it didn’t need to be like that. It was probably what we needed.”
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