Travis Fisher likely wishes the opportunity came under different circumstances, but the Nebraska secondary coach was happy to get a couple of his young players meaningful snaps on Oct. 24 against Ohio State.
In fact, Fisher has spoken highly about the likes of redshirt freshman safety Myles Farmer, sophomore cornerback Quinton Newsome and several others in the Huskers’ young corps of secondary players for a year now. He just hasn’t gotten them much in the way of game action because of the veteran nature of the top line.
“Anytime I can get younger guys in the game, it’s a bonus for me,” Fisher said Wednesday. “Guys are talented and they need to get the game experience. They’re getting practice experience now, but there’s nothing like having that game experience.”
That happened against Ohio State because both junior cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt and senior safety Deontai Williams were ejected for targeting. Since both carry suspensions through the first half of Saturday’s game against Northwestern, that young group figures to see the field even more against the Wildcats.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in the guys that are going to play week-to-week,” Fisher said. “Obviously, it starts on Monday and Tuesday and preparation going into the game. How well can we practice as a group? Guys have the individual goals that they want to accomplish in practice as far as, ‘I want to get better at this today, I want to get better on this tomorrow,’ and stuff like that.
“But all of our guys, when it’s their turn to play, whether it’s somewhere during the game, whether it’s the next game or whatever it may be, they’re starters. We just keep rolling. Whoever is in the game, they’re starters in my eyes.”
Farmer, in particular, has drawn praise from Fisher for months. In the spring, the secondary coach called his redshirt freshman from Atlanta among the best players in the room and said he could have played more as a true freshman in 2019.
Not surprisingly, he was happy with what he saw from Farmer against OSU.
“I thought he did a great job when he got in the game,” Fisher said.
Added Chinander, “He’s a very active safety. He can cover a lot of ground quickly because of his length and because of his speed and he’s also a very physical kid. He can be physical at the line of scrimmage, he can be a physical tackler. He’s physical on reroutes on the perimeter, but like I said, in the post, he can cover a lot of ground, so I feel pretty good about him in man coverage.”
It’s not just Farmer, though. Nebraska could also turn to redshirt freshman Noa Pola-Gates or true freshman Isaac Gifford if needed. Both traveled to Ohio State and played primarily on special teams.
Gifford, a Lincoln native, has impressed since arriving on campus in January even though he dealt with an injury in the spring.
“Not surprised. I mean, a pleasant surprise, but a guy like Isaac Gifford — you don’t exactly always know what you’re getting, but you think you know what you’re getting: A guy who comes from a great family with a good pedigree,” Chinander said. “Isaac is more athletic than he gets credit for and he really understands football. He wants to work the game. He’s accountable, he’s dependable and he’s going to work hard every single snap.”
Gifford may have a leg up in the conversation this week because of Northwestern’s run-heavy approach so far this season. Chinander said the 6-1, 205-pounder can handle some linebacker-type duties depending on the situation.
At corner, Newsome will likely get the nod for Taylor-Britt. The 6-foot-2, 180-pounder was one of just four freshmen in 2019 to forgo a redshirt and he appeared in 10 games, playing mostly special teams and some corner in sub-packages.
If the Huskers have to go beyond Newsome and senior Dicaprio Bootle at cornerback before Taylor-Britt returns, they would likely turn to a true freshman in either Tamon Lynum or Ronald Delancy.
Bootle said earlier this week he’s confident no matter which direction Fisher turns.
“They know that they're going to be depended on, so we just have to continue to stay with those guys and get them right and get them ready,” Bootle said Monday. “As for me, they’re helping me get ready. They see things that I don't see sometimes. That's kind of the characteristic of a strong room when everybody can contribute and everyone has something to put forth, even the guys that don’t play. …
“They understand that we have one common goal and it’s is a beautiful thing.”
10 Huskers to watch this season
Contact the writer at email@example.com or 402-473-7439. On Twitter @HuskerExtraPG.