De­fen­sive line­men ad­just­ing to 3- 4

The Columbus Dispatch - - Sports Report High School Football Tennis Golf Soc - By Sam McKe­won

Play af­ter play, dou­ble team af­ter dou­ble team.

More than 600 pounds of Wis­con­sin of­fen­sive line­men push­ing him out of his gap.

Ne­braska de­fen­sive tackle Car­los Davis had one tough night last Satur­day, per­haps his tough­est as a Corn­husker.

As the Bad­gers ran the ball on 28 of their fi­nal 30 plays — with in­creas­ing suc­cess against NU’s weary­ing de­fen­sive front — he had to keep ab­sorb­ing the blows from con­stant dou­ble teams, and a thought came to him. This is real. “It was def­i­nitely hum­bling,” Davis said of Wis­con­sin’s 38-17 win. “I played them last year, but I didn’t think they’d run the ball like they did, and they just kept pound­ing it and pound­ing it. I was told they would, but I had to see it for my­self, and that was a big shock.”

Davis is part of a de­fen­sive line that plays no se­niors and is still ad­just­ing to de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Bob Di­aco’s 3-4 de­fense.

Mick Stoltenberg and Free­dom Ak­in­mo­ladun are ju­niors. Car­los and twin brother, Khalil, are sopho­mores. Deon­tre Thomas is a true fresh­man. Alex Davis (sopho­more), Sedrick King (ju­nior) and Ben Stille (red­shirt fresh­man) some­times play, as well.

All are play­ing the most snaps of their ca­reer in a dif­fer­ent sys­tem from for­mer co­or­di­na­tor Mark Banker’s 4-3 ap­proach.

In a 4-3, line­men shot gaps, at­tempt­ing to get tack­les for loss or push run­ning plays to the edge of the field where lineback­ers, safeties and cor­ners waited.

Un­der Di­aco, line­men hold their ground in gaps, al­low­ing lineback­ers to trap ball car­ri­ers for short gains.

“You want to tackle peo­ple — I think I had one tackle in that game — but my job is to take on dou­ble teams,” Car­los Davis said.

As a group, Huskers coach Mike Ri­ley said, the de­fen­sive line is in a “mode of de­vel­op­ment.” All the con­trib­u­tors were re­cruited by Ri­ley’s staff or were red­shirt fresh­men when Ri­ley ar­rived.

“The group in to­tal should grow year to year, in a good way with those young play­ers,” Ri­ley said.

Ohio State, Ne­braska’s op­po­nent on Satur­day in Memo­rial Sta­dium, de­vel­ops line­men a lit­tle more quickly.

The Buck­eyes’ de­fen­sive line that in­cludes NFL prospects Sam Hub­bard, Tyquan Lewis, Dre’Mont Jones and sopho­more Nick Bosa has ac­counted for 35 tack­les for loss in six games. That’s six more than NU’s en­tire team.

And whereas OSU’s line is full of four- and five-star re­cruits, con­sen­sus three-star Car­los Davis is NU’s high­est-rated de­fen­sive line re­cruit. No. 3 is his twin, Khalil.

“What the Davis twins are do­ing to­day will be great for them to­mor­row,” Ri­ley said. “They both have abil­ity, they’re both re­ally get­ting their feet wet, and play­ing se­ri­ous min­utes.”

Di­aco said Tues­day that he went to bed Satur­day an­gry, think­ing his de­fen­sive line “got pushed around and mauled and beat up” by the Bad­gers.

“But that did not hap­pen,” Di­aco added.

The film, Di­aco said, showed that cor­rectable mis­takes ac­counted for most of the er­rors com­mit­ted by the Huskers’ de­fen­sive line.

“You build a bank ac­count of trust with plays that get cor­rected,” he said.

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