LINCOLN — Tony Tuioti calls it the “111.”
Each defensive player — one out of 11 — doing his job, and as a result, the defense works as a whole.
“The game of football is all about your one-on-one, the guy that’s lined up in front of you,” Tuioti said. “If you don’t win your one-on-one, that could be the play where it’ll run up in your gap and be a big touchdown. If your assignment is to set the edge in the run game, and you’re inside and the ball goes outside, that’s not doing your 111.”
Nebraska’s defense didn’t win nearly enough one-on-one assignments in a 48-7 loss to Ohio State, Tuioti said. The failure of one player — often someone different — led to the struggles of all 11.
OSU’s first touchdown, a 15-yard scramble by Justin Fields, was an example of miscommunication along the defensive line, Tuioti said. Fields got loose through the middle of the pass rush and had little resistance on the way to the end zone.
“Just simple things like that,” Tuioti said. “We try to keep it simple for them. Trust the defense. If we do it correctly, we can get the results we want. When we don’t, it doesn’t matter where you’re playing — little league football, college ball, pro ball, it happens everywhere.”
Watch the tracer. That’s one key that inside linebacker Will Honas will use in diagnosing Northwestern’s offense.
The Wildcats have a hybrid tight end/fullback in their offense called a “Superback.” Where he lines up, Honas said, is an indication of what play might be coming.
“They’ll kind of tell you the play a lot of times,” Honas said.
Honas doesn’t know which of Northwestern’s quarterbacks will play — starter Hunter Johnson left Saturday’s 24-15 loss at Wisconsin on numerous occasions and was relieved by Aidan Smith — but they have similar skill sets, Honas said.
“The offense doesn’t change much depending on the quarterback,” Honas said.
Honas missed last year’s game at Northwestern — a 34-31 Husker overtime loss — while rehabbing from a torn ACL. Honas called the loss “heartbreaking” to watch on TV.
» Right guard Boe Wilson did not practice in pads Tuesday. Neither did kicker Barret Pickering.
» Junior end Jahkeem Green played well in his first game this season, Tuioti said. Coaches may use him more often this season against “physical, downhill-running” teams. Green will be prepped to do so. He has three games left to play without burning his redshirt.
“He played the fourth quarter and they were kind of running clock a little bit, so he didn’t get as many reps as I was hoping he’d get in the fourth quarter, but I thought he held his own,” Tuioti said.
» Northwestern freshman running back Drake Anderson is effective in the Wildcats’ zone scheme and will be one to watch, Tuioti said. Northwestern as a whole reminds Tuioti of the California team he coached last season.
“They’ll try to take care of the football, move the ball, try to win the field position, make the other team make mistakes,” Tuioti said.
» Nebraska has gotten “so much better” since the last time it played Northwestern, defensive backs coach Travis Fisher said. He said the mentality for stopping receivers can’t change even if Wildcat wideouts don’t have the same recruiting rankings as Ohio State. The Huskers gave up 220 receiving yards last year to the Wildcats’ Flynn Nagel, who was a senior.
» Chinander said the loss to the Wildcats was perhaps the game Nebraska’s staff watched most in the offseason because it provided the best look at a self scout. With all the situations that cropped up, coaches could analyze what to do differently — with play-calling and clock management in particular.