Nebraska Danger defensive lineman Jervonte Jackson is just trying to get better.
“I’m fine tuning things I messed up on last year,” Jackson said. “I’m getting back into the swing of things.”
So is the entire Danger defense. Jackson and teammates did their job well in Saturday’s 43-19 victory over the Bemidji Axemen.
The 19 points were the fewest the Danger had ever given up in the history of the franchise, which is now in its fourth season of operation.
“Guys kind of figured what they were doing scheme-wise and understood where everyone was going to be,” Danger head coach and defensive coordinator Mike Davis said. “I felt like that made it a lot easier for us to get the ball rolling, and we had good pressure up front.
“We had the right personnel the whole time. It’s just our communication was awful. Once they started communicating and understanding where each other would be, it made for a good unit.”
The Axemen had just 136 total yards for the game and missed five field goal attempts.
But field goal attempts are like a stop for the defense in the indoor game, even if the opponent makes the field goal.
“In all actuality, even if they make a field goal, that’s a stop for us because we can close the gap by scoring touchdowns,” Davis said. “That’s why we talk about being efficient — offensively scoring touchdowns and defensively getting stops where they kick field goals, whether they make it or miss. That’s being efficient for us.
“It lets us stretch our legs to where we can put some space between us and the opponent.”
Davis said the defensive line did its part in controlling Bemidji’s offense. The Axemen had just 61 yards rushing for the game and gave up two sacks.
Davis said improving the defensive line was a priority in the off season. He brought back veterans Jackson (Florida Atlantic), Adrian Davis (University of Arkansas) and Claude Wroten (LSU) from last year and added Aronde Stanton (Youngstown State) and Randy Salmon (New Mexico Highlands).
“Aronde Stanton played a great game (against Bemidji),” Davis said. “Adrian Davis got good pressure also. Really our whole D-line did what they were supposed to. They got the quarterbacks taking steps backwards and trying to throw off their back foot. If we do that, we’ll be successful as a unit.”
Defensive line coach James Poynter said the line is still coming together.
“It’s still a growing thing,” Poynter said. “We have a couple of new guys so they’re still in the learning curve. But we have some great vets back who are playing really well. I think it’s only going to get better as the season goes on. I think the defensive line will become a strong point for this team.”
Jackson, who played with the Danger in 2013, agreed that the defensive line is improving but has a ways to go.
“It’s gone very well,” Jackson said. “The first week we had some new guys who didn’t know the gap assignments. Now we have an understanding of what our assignments are and now we can execute them.”
The Danger keep five defensive linemen on the roster, but usually dress just four each game. That means someone has to sit out each week.
Last week Salmon sat out, but it might be a different lineman this week when the Danger hosts the Texas Revolution Saturday at the Heartland Events Center.
“A lot of times it’s based on strategy,” Poynter said. “Based on the type of player that person might be going against, whether it be a center or guard. You try to base it on who has better strengths to go against your opponent each week.”
The coaching staff also has some flexibility because several of the linemen can play any one of the three positions.
“That’s what’s good when you have five guys who can play any position,” Jackson said. “That’s very key, especially in the indoor game, when you can rotate every position and not lose a beat. In the past we had one guy who could play nose or one guy who could play right end. Now we have guys who can play all across the defensive line.
“That’s key because you give the opposing team different looks ever play. They don’t get used to just one person.”
Sewell back this week
Davis said starting quarterback Jameel Sewell will be back behind center against Texas.
Sewell — who was the MVP of the IFL last year — sat out last week’s game with a bruised back, but Davis said that was just a precautionary move.
“I’d rather be safe than sorry and have Jameel for the long run,” Davis said. “We started off a little slow. We weren’t as efficient as we wanted to be, but a win is a win.”