Nebraska linebackers coach Mike Ekeler makes it very clear what he wants his linebackers to achieve during preseason camp.
"We have to know our system inside and out," Ekeler said. "We have to communicate like crazy, and we HAVE to become a physical group.
"Last year we weren't a physical group."
Several Nebraska players have said their hesitancy last season was mostly a result of being in the first year of a defensive system. There was a lot of thinking and not enough reacting.
"I'll be honest with you," Ekeler said Saturday, "I was pretty happy when we got lined up right."
That has to change in year two, he said, while taking ownership for some of the issues in 2008.
"I coached like crap last year," he said. "I'm serious. I have to pick up my game. I'm just fired up -- I'm excited."
Ekeler obviously is being a little hard on himself, as the Nebraska actually made major strides on defense last season and won six of its last seven games.
The Huskers will have their third of 29 preseason practices on Monday.
"We have to get to the point where there are no free passes," Ekeler continued. "If a receiver's going to drag across the middle, we're going to take his damn head off.
"We're going to be physical in the run game. We're not going to take a side on a fullback. We're going to hit him right under the chin -- split his chin -- and get off and make the play."