Nebraska defensive coordinator Erik Chinander has been happy to have players back on campus after spending so long working over Zoom. “Leadership is a contact sport,” he said. “Not being able to touch those uys, hug ’em, and just be with those guys every day was the hard part.”

LINCOLN — Fundamentally, Erik Chinander is a teacher. His subject is football, his classroom is a field 120 yards long and he’s being graded by millions of Nebraska fans just as closely as he grades his players. The man is a teacher, and he’s experienced the roller coaster of the past six months like most educators.

The joys and frustrations of Zoom meetings, for starters. Chinander, talking to the media Tuesday for the first time since March, had a lot of those online sessions in the first part of the pandemic.

“With kids, it’s trying to keep them involved, trying to keep them focused on scheme and structure,” he said.

As the summer progressed and America’s collective understanding of COVID-19 improved, the Zoom sessions became players gathering on their own to work out and lift, which progressed to players and coaches meeting for film study, leading to where Chinander is now — working fundamentals on the field.

Weeks and weeks of that, as Nebraska first sat in limbo about whether it would play a fall season at all before the Big Ten on Sept. 16 approved a nine-game slate. Since then, NU has been waiting for padded practices to begin today, when the Big Ten is set to deliver all of the daily antigen test kits to league schools.

“Getting the coverage pieces right, getting the rush lanes fixed,” Chinander said. “Just detail stuff that sometimes shouldn’t get glossed over. …Whenwego out and get to run those calls against our offense in pads and scrimmages and game situations, hopefully all that information that we’ve given them will be retained. Once they go out and make an error, at least they’ll be able to say, ‘Oh, yeah, you did tell me that one time.’ “

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