An interesting name revealed itself in a new position Monday on Nebraska's depth chart.
There at outside linebacker, listed as a backup to Tyrin Ferguson, was sophomore JoJo Domann.
Domann, the former safety, was listed alongside Alex Davis as Ferguson's backup. With Ferguson banged up the past few weeks, and depth already lacking at the position, it was Domann who got the chance to make an impact.
It's as much a strategic move as anything else, Nebraska coach Scott Frost said.
“That’s not a position move, that’s just a guy that knows safety that can also play nickel for us. Our outside backer and nickel is kind of interchangeable," Frost said. "JoJo is a safety, but especially with Ferg (Tyrin Ferguson) gimpy a little bit we needed another body down there and he’s a smart enough kid to know both of those spots and give us some depth at Sam backer, particularly when we’re playing teams with three wide receivers.”
Senior Luke Gifford, NU's other starter at outside linebacker, said Domann began working with the linebackers last week. His physicality has helped in the move, Gifford said. Plus, he has the coverage abilities of a safety.
"I think he's one of those guys that's always been able to do both things. Obviously as a safety there's a lot of times where you're down in the box making tackles anyway," Gifford said. "So there's some carryover there for sure and I think the coaches saw he could do both."
Devine praise: Frost continued his praise Monday for senior running back Devine Ozigbo, comparing him to former Oregon star Royce Freeman. Freeman is Oregon's all-time leading rusher and was a third-round pick of the Denver Broncos.
Ozigbo said the coaches' confidence in him has played a big role in his big senior season.
"It lets you play free without worrying about too much — you're not worried about messing up and getting pulled," Ozigbo said. "You're going to get coached up and corrected instead of 'All right, we don't know if you're getting back into the game.'"
That's a change from previous years, Ozigbo said, when a mistake might land a player on the sideline for an extended stretch.
"You had to walk a little lighter before," Ozigbo said. "I honestly never knew where I stood, for the most part, in the past. So just trying not to go backwards was pretty big for me."
Beckton and Bethune: It appears having lifelong Florida resident Sean Beckton on staff paid dividends for Nebraska in scheduling Bethune-Cookman.
Nebraska's tight ends coach is a native of Daytona Beach, Florida, where Bethune-Cookman is located. He played collegiately at Central Florida and spent his entire coaching career in the Sunshine State before coming with Frost's staff to Lincoln.
"Sean is a guy that was in Florida his whole life and everybody down there knows how good of a guy he is," Frost said. "I think both staffs understand that there’s good men on each staff; Sean Beckton being that kind of guy, I think they trusted us in that our intentions are right in regards to this game. We are glad to host them, got a lot respect for their coaching staff and their players, so I’m looking forward to a good game."
Technique taking hold: Graduate transfer safety Tre Neal has been in the unusual position to watch players learn under the same coaching staff at two different programs.
The changes are obvious at Nebraska, Neal said, where cornerbacks Dicaprio Bootle and Lamar Jackson are playing with "20 times the confidence" they were at the beginning of the season.
"Me being a safety, I see the growth that we’ve gone through. But I know corner is probably one of the hardest positions to learn and one of the hardest things to change," Neal said. "To have three different coaching staffs and being taught three different things … but when I saw them from the spring to now, I think it’s outrageous and I think that guys are starting to buy in just because they’re starting to make plays."
— Chris Basnett