Nebraska Cornhuskers: Hard Hitters, But Good Coverage Skills?
Daimion Stafford did not take long to introduce himself as a Nebraska Cornhusker last season by absolutely leveling an opposing player on one of his very first tackles of the season. He was voted earlier this week by this teammates to be the second hardest hitter on the team and his hoping to be one of two starting safeties this season.
As fall camp begins, the Cornhuskers have to replace Austin Cassidy at one safety position. Last season, the second safety position rotated at times between Stafford, PJ Smith, and Coutney Osborne. This season, those players along with Justin Blatchford, Harvey Jackson, and Corey Cooper could all see playing time, especially early in the season if and when games get out of hand.
Last season, however, the safeties were torched at times on the deep throws. Too many times they had their eyes on the quarterback and allowed receivers to get behind them. At other times, they had horrible communication skills between each other and the cornerbacks which allowed receivers to run right past everyone.
So this season, who gets the nod for the Big Red?
Early on, strictly due to experience and knowledge of the scheme, Smith and Stafford should be at the top of the depth chart. While neither player is big, both deliver are capable of playing physical and delivering big hits for Pelini’s defense. However, at times as I said, their lack of coverage skills could cost the Blackshirts.
Head coach Bo Pelini likes to bring a blitz from all sides of the defense. Sometimes he will drop from a 4-3 to 3-4, or even a 5-2 and 46. In any of those cases, watch out for Stafford lining up on the blind side of the quarterback and coming on a safety blitz. In such cases, the pressure will be turned up on the rest of the secondary to handle their assignments.
As the season progresses, however, I think Stafford and Smith will run away with the job. However, with the way Pelini has rotated players, everybody better be ready to go.