Photo by Aaron Babcock
Nebraska Football

Mailbag: Will the Huskers Develop a Pass Rush?

September 15, 2017
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The Huskers are looking to prove some things this weekend when the Northern Illinois Huskies come to town. You asked questions about the Huskers. Brandon Vogel, Greg Smith, Mike Babcock, Jacob Padilla and Derek Peterson took a shot at answering them.


Why do so many people have a problem about not playing Black Friday? What's your take? (@IBeLionsBeats)

BV: I was surprised by the amount of conversation it drove. I didn’t have much of a response. I didn’t feel strongly about Iowa or Black Friday. I guess I can see how some may perceive it as a general erosion of tradition – one that has been happening on many other fronts – but I don’t put playing on Black Friday in the same category as some of the things that are already gone.

GS: I didn’t realize how many people cared so deeply about playing on Black Friday. After hearing fan concerns about the prestige of playing in a standout game, I can see their gripe but it has never been something that really moved the needle either way for me.

JP: I feel the same way as Brandon. As a younger guy who missed most of the glory days, I’m probably not the right guy to be speaking about tradition. But I don’t particularly care about playing on that day in particular.

At some point are we going to see more blitz packages? Or is the secondary not there yet. (@BigWill550)

BV: Probably to some degree. Big Ten offenses, for the most part, will be a different animal from what the Huskers have faced so far. Oregon’s a tough team to blitz because of its offensive prowess and explosiveness. Arkansas State made blitzing impossible on half of its attempts in week one, so those two games probably haven’t offered the best look at whatever Nebraska’s blitz tendencies will be.

GS: I’ll take a wait-and-see approach on when we will see more blitzing. Traditionally, Diaco defenses are not known for sacking the quarterback a lot or for blitzing heavily. His 3-4 is much more read and react versus Oregon’s more attacking style 3-4. I’m not holding my breath about seeing him unleash all his exotic blitz packages.

DP: I think “at some point” is the key phrase in there. When Diaco was asked about the pass rush on Tuesday, he said it was trying to “help facilitate a growing, maturing, developing coverage,” which basically means he’s holding back so he can protect them. Maybe as we get into conference play, we’ll see some more exotic packages, but I think that depends on how the secondary is doing.

How do we get Devine back? (@HuskerinOregon)

JP: Injury to guys ahead of him. Both Tre Bryant and Mikale Wilbon beat out Ozigbo for playing time in fall camp, and Riley decided he wasn’t going to use a committee approach this season.

DP: Basically what Jacob said. With Bryant missing Saturday, Riley said Wilbon will move to the starter and Ozigbo will move into that role that Wilbon has played to begin the season, but even then, in two games Wilbon has five carries.

GS: I’ll echo what the other guys are saying but I’d also say even if Bryant and Wilbon went down, Ozigbo would still share time with Jaylin Bradley.

If you had to give up one forever, would you give up pizza, tacos, wings, or burgers? (@tklim2430)

BV: Tough call for me between tacos and wings, pizza and burgers are non-negotiable. While I love tacos as much as the next person, I don’t think I ever find myself feeling, “man, I’ve gotta get some tacos right now.” I do have that feeling with wings, so I guess tacos have to turn in their playbook.

GS: It’d be burgers for me and it’s not really close. I can go weeks without having one so that’s a no-brainer for me.

JP: I don’t eat wings so this is an easy one for me. I love the other three.

DP: I’m so happy we finally have a random question. *sniffle* I love a good burger and fries, just made tacos for dinner the other night and pizza is a gift to society, so I will say wings. I also don’t like traditional wings and only eat boneless, which really limits my exposure to good wings. I know, it’s weird, but hey, now I’ve given them up so I don’t have to worry about it anymore.

Which defensive player will lead the team in sacks? How many do you think this player will have? What game will the first one happen? (@Corn_Huskers)

DP: I think defensive end Freedom Akinmoladun would be the sexy pick here, but like we talked about above, some blitz packages are probably coming and a guy like linebacker Luke Gifford, who is getting a crazy snap percentage to begin the season, stands out to me as someone that could finish the season with some solid sack numbers. Maybe five or six for him, give or take one or two. But they already have a sack, linebacker Dedrick Young got one in the first week.

Can Tre B knee b operated on in the off season or is it something that he has to live with? They said he came in with it... strange. (@vern_monty)

JP: I wish I could give you an answer, but I’m not really sure. Mike Riley has been pretty vague about it, although his line that the knee is older than the rest of him certainly doesn’t bode well.

DP: Like Jacob, I don’t really have a clear answer here because the staff hasn’t been too specific on what the actual issue is. But if I’m going to speculate, I would think it’s not something that can be operated on or that would have been a topic of discussion this summer.

How concerned should we be about the minimal QB pressure our D Line is getting? (@md_schmidt)

BV: Not that concerned, partially for the reasons mentioned above in response to the blitz question, but mostly because Bob Diaco’s defenses have never really been high-sack team. It’s just not how they play. Now, his 2012 Notre Dame defense had some serious talent on the front line and that team ranked 25th nationally in sacks, so it’s not like they’re forbidden in a Diaco defense. But they’re more the product of individual players than they are of the defense. The lack of pressure so far probably could’ve been expected to some degree.

With 3 RSoph on the Huskies Oline with Fr back ups, do you expect the Dline to dominate this game? (@CoryHonold)

JP: To an extent, but then again Arkansas State’s line was incredibly inexperienced as well and Nebraska didn’t get a whole lot done up front in that game. To be fair, Arkansas State didn’t run very much and the quick passing game negated any kind of pass rush. Of the three units to this point, however, I will say that I think the defensive line has performed the best.

Ever hear about Wyatt Mazour? Sounded like Riley was impressed with him over spring/last season. Any chance he plays soon? (@BCoffendaffer)

BV: Riley said on Thursday that he has been dealing with a quad injury that was suffered before the season started. I think we'll see him eventually, but he's not fully back yet.

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