Nebraska Football’s tallest tasks for position coaches in 2018: Mike Dawson

LINCOLN, NE - NOVEMBER 04: Quarterback Clayton Thorson
LINCOLN, NE - NOVEMBER 04: Quarterback Clayton Thorson /

Nebraska Football prides itself on the Blackshirts and being physical up front. Mike Dawson has taken the rains of the defensive line. What is his tallest task of 2018?

When one thinks about Nebraska football, they think tough, they think grit, they think physical. But are those things still synonymous with the Cornhusker program?

It feels like just yesterday Ndamukong Suh was wreaking havoc in the offensive backfield of the Huskers’ opponents. Not long after that there was Randy Gregory. But then you snap back to the reality of the situation. That is that Randy Gregory hasn’t been a part of the program since 2014, and Ndamukong Suh since 2009. Ndamukong Suh was 4th nationally in individual sacks in 2009. Where has that ferocity and sack production been in recent years?

The Nebraska Football defensive line must create more havoc and produce more sacks in 2018. This is the tallest task for Mike Dawson.

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The Huskers put up 14 sacks as a team in 2017. This landed them 119th nationally in total sacks. Only 5.5 of the 14 belong to the defensive line. Freedom Akinmoladun had 1, Khalil Davis had 2, and Carlos Davis produced 2.5. Not only are these numbers not eye-popping, but they are disappointing. For perspective, Big Ten West foe Wisconsin came in at 8th nationally in total sacks with 42.

On the bright side, Mike Dawson will have a lot of experience to work with when taking on this task. The Huskers return all defensive linemen in 2018, and gain the eligibility of a few more. Starters Mick Stoltenberg at nose tackle and Freedom Akinmoladun and Carlos Davis at defensive end all return. The group will have new competition in redshirt freshman Guy Thomas and true freshman Tate Wildeman and Casey Rodgers. However, do to the amount of returning experience, it’s likely that Wildeman and Rodgers will redshirt.

Eric Chinander runs an aggressive 3-4 scheme. It’s designed to enable diverse blitzes that are difficult for the opposing offense to read. Yes, Bob Diaco also ran what was supposed to be an aggressive 3-4. However, we didn’t see the amount of diverse and effective blitzes that we were promised in 2017. That’s why Mike Dawson should be able to make something of this opportunity under Chinander.

UCF finished the 2017 season with 27 sacks, landing them in a tie for 57th nationally in total sacks. That’s not incredible but it’s a huge step up from where the Huskers were in 2017. Realistically, the Nebraska Football defensive line should aim for that level of improvement in 2018. This is the tallest task for Mike Dawson.