Published Saturday, August 3, 2013 AT 2:06 PM / Updated at 2:15 PM
Training camp: More (vague) talk about new strategies on defense
Jon Nyatawa Omaha World-Herald

Get ready. This kind of chatter from Nebraska defenders could be common over the next month. No one wants to reveal any secrets that might expose an eventual game plan, but they’d also like to acknowledge that some changes are coming.

Let’s first issue this reminder: At the start of the last two training camps, this kind of nondescript dialogue about alterations to Bo Pelini’s system also surfaced. And there wasn’t much of a drastic difference.

In 2011, we heard about the potential permanent move to a three-man front, or at least more consistently utilizing Jared Crick’s athleticism off the edge. Last year, there was talk about never-seen-before blitzes and a desire to call games more aggressively.

Turn on the game film from those seasons and you’ll find traces of those concepts — but no real departure from the general philosophies that have made up the Pelini methodology in five seasons at Nebraska.

But maybe this year’s different. So we’ve heard, anyway.

Utilizing a spinner-style rush end who lines up wide of the tight end, kind of like a linebacker? More 3-4 sets? Dropping a safety down in the box? Incorporating cornerbacks in run support more often?

Those are some of the things Pelini mentioned during Big Ten media days. His players hinted at changes Friday.

Here’s defensive end Jason Ankrah talking about his confidence-building spring: “We altered a couple plays. Gave me more freedom — well, (gave) all of us more freedom — to not really think on making plays. I took advantage of it. I had fun doing it. This is different, but I like it. It’s more of how I really want to play.”

Sophomore linebacker David Santos said he expects the coaches to install some different ideas over the next couple weeks while they review the basics taught during the spring.

“Of course we’re going to throw in some new stuff,” Santos said. “We’ve got some new things going in…”

He pauses. (Apparently, he’s said too much).

“It’s just going to be piece by piece, day by day,” Santos said. “We’re going to review and learn new stuff. It’ll continue to grow, the knowledge on the defensive side.”

Sort of seems like these Huskers are speaking in some sort of code that now needs to be deciphered. Maybe it’s just a ploy to make us all go nuts.

Practice starts Monday. We’ll see what the coaches and players choose to reveal over the next month.

A few more defense-related notes from Friday’s media interviews are below…

>> Ankrah said he’s weighing in at 262 pounds right now, which is a touch lighter than he played at during the 2012 season. He was 265 to 268 last year.

>> Senior defensive tackle Thad Randle, who played through pain all last season, looks healthy after undergoing minor surgery during the winter to clean up his injured knee. That assessment comes from Ankrah, who said he’s never doubted that Randle would be effective upon his return. A brief scouting report on Randle from Ankrah: “(He’s) good, strong at the point of attack. And he wants to get to the ball.”

>> Santos injured his shoulder in the final scrimmage before the spring game in April. Said Santos: “I was diving to make a tackle and I tripped on a dude. I just landed wrong on my shoulder. Couldn’t get up off the ground. They told me that it slid out of its socket.” He feels fine now. Read more about Santos here.

>> What’s it like in the linebacker room, where every job is up for grabs? “I don’t even see it as seniors and freshmen,” Santos said. “I just see it as my teammates, my brothers that all want to play.” (Pelini commented on the position at Big Ten media days last week).

>> Nebraska’s first road trip isn’t until Oct. 12 at Purdue. You better believe the guys on a young defense have chatted about that. “All those home games are nice,” Santos said. Couldn’t have drawn up the schedule any better, he said.

About Jon Nyatawa

Jon Nyatawa has covered local sports, primarily Nebraska football, for The Omaha World-Herald since 2008. He and his laptop, cell phone, tape recorder, pen and notebook all live in Lincoln. Follow him on Twitter: @JonNyatawa. Email him here: He welcomes feedback.