Tony Tuioti has a two-deep that he really considers a one-deep.
“Up front we rotate differently than the back-end guys, so those six guys are all No. 1s to me,” the first-year Nebraska defensive line coach told reporters Tuesday. “They’re going to all be playing almost the same amount of reps to keep them fresh, keep them going.”
They are senior Darrion Daniels and his sophomore brother Damion at nose tackle, senior Carlos Davis and sophomore Deontre Thomas on one end and senior Khalil Davis and junior Ben Stille on the other.
“I can throw any combination and feel good about those guys,” Tuioti said. “The (Davis) twins, they can play three downs. Stille can play three downs. Darrion can play three downs. ‘Snacks’ (Damion Daniels): two downs. First and second down, stop the run and let us earn the right to rush the passer.
“Then we get our guys to go hunt after the quarterback. But we’ve got to earn the right to rush the passer.”
Tuioti oversees a group that can go beyond that top six depending on game situation. He mentioned senior walk-on Fyn Anderson as a third nose tackle and redshirt freshman Casey Rogers, junior college transfer Jahkeem Green and senior DaiShon Neal as others who can help this fall, too.
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As for freshmen such as Ty Robinson and Mosai Newsom, both can play in up to four games and retain a redshirt.
“When they’re ready to go, when the situation is right, we’re going to try to get them in,” Tuioti said. “We’ve got to be smart as coaches in terms of using the four-game rule to our advantage. We’re going to try to help Ty, help Mosai and those guys get better with their fundamental technique and also with the playbook to find games where they can come in and play with us. Who knows when it is, but give us five weeks with those guys and they may be able to play and help us out in some of the conference games. Who knows?”
Green steadily making progress: Green only arrived in camp two weeks ago and has since been trying to learn as much as he can and get in as good a shape as he can as the season draws closer.
“From Day One he’s improved immensely,” Tuioti said. “He’s put in extra time in the classroom with (graduate assistant Tony Washington Jr.), he’s putting in extra work after practice and he’s trying to close the gap as much as possible. There’s a big gap and he’s closing it day-by-day. He’s getting his cardio a lot better, he’s working with (strength coach Zach) Duval and his staff afterward to try to get himself in shape. When he’s ready to play, we’re going to play him.”
Carlos Davis said even during the dog days of camp, when the work day lasts sunup to sundown and sometimes beyond, Green was in the building longer than anybody.
“Come on, you guys know, it’s hard as a freshman to come in in the summer and try to play as a freshman, but I know he’s been working his butt off,” Davis said. “He’s been staying up late, even when we would go home at 9 p.m. during camp, the week he was here, he was always staying after and getting extra work in trying to play.”