The Snap Count: The Huskers' Defensive Personnel Against Illinois
Photo Credit: Aaron Babcock

The Snap Count: The Huskers’ Defensive Personnel Against Illinois

October 06, 2017

We're back again with another round of snap counts including one player who saw his first action on defense in Nebraska's 28-6 win at Illinois last Friday.

With Nebraska as banged up as they have been, we saw less rotating at certain spots than we have all season as a season-high five different Huskers never left the field on defense. 

We saw what amounted to five different personnel formations this week including one I hadn't seen before and wasn't sure how to classify. Nebraska played half of its 56 snaps in its base 3-4 defense after spending just 16 of its 53 defensive snaps in base against Rutgers. Nebraska lined up in a 4-3 on 14 plays and in nickel on 12. The Huskers showed just one snap of dime early in the game and also had one play where they had six guys (three linemen and three linebackers) all standing up on the line at the snap  with all six rushing the passer. I labeled that formation "Stand-up Rusher" in my tables below.

With two linebackers (Marcus Newby and Tyrin Ferguson) and two defensive backs (Joshua Kalu and Chris Jones) set to return in some fashion against Wisconsin on Saturday, it will be interesting to track how rotations changed and which players see their playing time most affected.

Defensive Line

Name Snap Count Breakdown
Carlos Davis, SO 56 28 DE, 18 DT, 9 NT, 1 Stand-Up Rusher (SUR)
Freedom Akinmoladun, JR 28 26 DE, 2 DT
Khalil Davis, SO 25 22 DE, 2 DT, 1 SUR
Mick Stoltenberg, JR 24 15 NT, 8 DT, 1 SUR
Deontre Thomas, FR 19 13 NT, 6 DT
Alex Davis, SO 13 13 DE

Carlos Davis continues to be the anchor of the defensive line and the redshirt sophomore has emerged as a monster no matter where Nebraska lines him up. It really is impressive how mnay snaps he has been able to play while still maintaining a high level of effectiveness.

Nebraska continues to split snaps fairly evenly between ends Akinmoladun and Khalil Davis and nose tackles Mick Stoltenberg and Deontre Thomas.

As I said I was going to do last week, I've officially moved lex Davis into the defensive line group. The redshirt sophomore hasn't played as a linebacker since the Oregon game in week two. It looks like his role has been reduced to strictly pass-rush situations as all os his snaps came in nickel or dime.

Linebackers

Name Snap Count Breakdown
Luke Gifford, JR 56 51 OLB, 4 DE, 1 SUR
Dedrick Young, JR 49 22 ILB, 19 OLB, 7 MLB, 1 SUR
Chris Weber, SR 43 21 ILB, 15 MLB, 6 OLB, 1 SUR
Sedrick King, JR 22 15 OLB, 7 DE
Ben Stille, FR 21 13 OLB, 7 DE, 1 SUR
Mohamed Barry, SO 19 13 ILB, 6 OLB

Bob Diaco and Trent Bray could not take Gifford off the field for the second straight week and because he's had to play so much at field outside linebacker, he has seen less time lining up on the line of scrimmage as a defensive end like he had been doing so much when he was playing primarily on the boundary side.

For some reason I don't quite understand, Dedrick Young continues to play a little bit more than Chris Weber, especially because Weber had what was one of his best performances as a Husker against the Illini.

Sedrick King and Ben Stille both ran right by Alex Davis as far as the linebacker depth chart goes and the Huskers seem a little bit more comfortable playing King as a stand-up 'backer than earlier in the season as his snaps in that role have risen every season. Stille had a breakout game against the Illini while splitting time almost evenly with King. It will be really interesting to see how their playing time is affected by the return of Newby and Ferguson as that could bump Gifford back to the boundary side.

Secondary

Name Snap Count Breakdown
Lamar Jackson, SO 56 56 FCB
Aaron Williams, JR 56 43 FS, 12 Nikcel FS, 1 Dime S
Antonio Reed, JR 56 43 BS, 12 Nickel BS, 1 Dime S
Eric Lee Jr., SO 35 23 BCB, 11 Nickel Slot CB, 1 Dime CB
Dicaprio Bootle, FR 33 20 BCB, 12 Nickel BCB, 1 Dime BCB
Jeremiah Stovall, SO 1 1 Nickel Slot CB
Marquel Dismuke, FR 1 1 Dime S

Lamar Jackson played every snap at field corner for the second straight week after Dicarpio Bootle had been subbing in at both corner spots earlier in the season. Jackson has certainly put together a blooper-reel amount of missed tackles, but the coaches still have trust in him (at least more so than the other guys apparently).

Both safeties played the entire game. I'm curious how the coaches will handle the snaps between Reed (who has really impressed with his increased role despite having a cast over one hand) and Kalu. Safety might be the strongest position on the team with Kalu back in action moving forward.

Williams is really versatile. While Kalu was starting, Williams played most of his snaps at the boundary safety position (the one more often in the box or closer to the line of scrimmage) while Kalu played the field (or free) safety spot. But with the bigger Reed starting, Williams has slid seamlessly back to field safety.

After Lee's second pass interference penalty, Bootle took over for him and played more snaps at boundary corner the rest of the way. I've been impressed with what Bootle has showed in his snaps and he might be playing the best of the three despite getting the fewest snaps.

Walk-on Jeremiah Stovall got onto the field in on nickel package snaps and got his "welcome to college football, kid" moment as he got juked by a defender and missed a tackle. Even so, I'm glad he was able to see the field at least once before Jones returned.

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