With Bo Pelini out and Mark Banker in, the Blackshirts were faced with a sizable conceptual shift. Pelini liked to play a lot of bracket coverages, with his safeties 2 High and primarily as pass defenders with limited run support responsibility; he tried to overcome this by mostly two-gapping his defensive line (though he unsuccessfully attempted to move away from this late). This scheme worked great in the Big 12, with offenses using 11 and 10 personnel packages, rarely committing to consistently running the ball and instead throwing it down the field into that bracket coverage. In the Big 10, Pelini’s defense had substantially less success, as teams would often formation Nebraska into a light box and force Nebraska’s OLBs into playing the run from a man disadvantage (6 blockers versus 5 defenders, etc.) while also having to play RPOs like the bubble, Y stick, pop pass, etc. That’s an unwinnable battle, and we saw the Blackshirts get drilled a number of times because of it. Think 63-38 in 2012 and Ohio State running wild on the Blackshirts.
Enter Mark Banker and his Cover 4 (or “Quarters”) base defense. There are a lot of things I like about this defense and how it fits the Big 10. Let’s take a peek at its basic principles. Continue reading “Cover 4 Bankerball – Nebraska’s Base Defense”