The Domann Nickel has Become Nebraska's Base Defense
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

The Domann Nickel has Become Nebraska’s Base Defense

October 09, 2019

After giving up 86 points in their first two games, the Blackshirts stiffened up on Saturday and held Northwestern to a single touchdown in a 13-10 win. Northwestern is one of the worst offensive teams in the conference, but it was good to see Nebraska bounce back from the beatdown against Ohio State and hold the Wildcats to just 4.0 yards per play and seven total chunk plays.

Defensively, the Huskers only showed three basic looks on defense: the JoJo Domann nickel, the dime with two linemen and the base 3-4 with two true outside linebackers. However, the Huskers pent the vast majority of the game in the Domann nickel which has become the team’s base defense since Domann has gotten up to full speed.

Nebraska spent a season-high 91.8% of its snaps (67 out of 73) in the hybrid 3-4 featuring the converted safety at one of the outside linebacker spots. In week two, Nebraska used that personnel grouping 20.5% of its snaps, in week three it was 50%, in week four it was 88.7% and against him State it dropped back down to 57.3%.

The Huskers put two true outside linebackers on the field at the same time for exactly one snap. They used a true dime for four snaps and also had the Hail Mary defense at the end of the half that included Nebraska’s giant tight ends standing near the end zone as a deterrent.

Minnesota is one of the biggest teams in the Big Ten led by a 400-pound tackle and two 270-pound tight ends. It will be interesting to track how much Nebraska is able to play the Domann nickel, or if they’ll have to play a bit bigger on the edge.

On to the snap counts (and as a reminder, I excluded penalties that lead to a replay of the down).

Defensive Line

  • JR Ben Stille = 68 snaps (93.2%)
  • SR Darrion Daniels = 57 snaps (78.1%)
  • SR Carlos Davis = 47 snaps (64.4%)
  • SO Deontre Thomas = 26 snaps (35.6%)
  • SO Damion Daniels = 10 snaps (13.7%)
  • FR Casey Rogers = 6 snaps (8.2%)

With Khalil Davis suspended and Ben Stille starting in his place, Tony Tuioti shortened his rotation and played his starters far more snaps than he had all season, and the starters responded with a strong performance across the line. 

With Davis out, redshirt freshman Casey Rogers got the extra defensive end snaps, playing a full series and also appearing for one other snap in an all-defensive end front that featured Stille and Davis alongside him.

Outside Linebacker

  • JR JoJo Domann = 72 snaps (98.6%)
  • SR Alex Davis = 42 snaps (57.5%)
  • SO Caleb Tannor = 31 snaps (42.5%)
  • FR Garrett Nelson = 1 snap (1.4%)

Domann played every snap except for one, when Nelson shared the field with Tannor in the traditional 3-4 front. Tannor replaced Davis for the second drive of the third quarter and was on the field for every snap the rest of the way as Davis was struggling.

Inside Linebacker

  • SR Mohamed Barry = 52 snaps (71.2%)
  • JR Will Honas = 51 snaps (69.9%)
  • JR Collin Miller = 38 snaps (52.1%)

Miller continues to start alongside Barry, but Honas out-snapped him and was on the field for Nebraska’s last defensive stand (he was the one who knocked the receiver off his route and set up Lamar Jackson’s interception).

Defensive Back

  • SR Lamar Jackson = 73 snaps (100%)
  • JR Dicaprio Bootle = 73 snaps (100%)
  • SO Cam Taylor-Britt = 73 snaps (100%)
  • JR Marquel Dismuke = 73 snaps (100%)
  • JR Eli Sullivan = 4 snaps (5.5%)
  • FR Braxton Clark = 4 snaps (5.5%)

Nebraska’s starters played every snap on Saturday. Sullivan, the walk-on from Colorado, and Clark, the redshirt freshman from Florida, got the call this week when Nebraska opted to use its dime package on third-and-long. Clark made a couple of tackles in the game (one solo), both of which led to punts.

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