LINCOLN, Neb. — The coaching community is a small world and the secret is out: Indiana steals defensive signals. And Nebraska knows it.
“They work at it real hard,” defensive coordinator Mark Banker said. “So they’re gonna get your signals, and if they don’t get it before the game they’ll get it before the snap, and then they actually call the play at the line of scrimmage.”
Banker said after practice on Tuesday that Indiana makes it a priority to find out the defense’s signals to alert their offense. It’s a practice that some teams focus on heavily, Banker said.
It’s not earth shattering, he added. But it could be a factor for the game on Saturday.
Because beyond just simply knowing what the defense is going to do, it also helps Indiana to not only call a good play against the defense but the perfect play, Banker said.
“I think the QB does a great job at understanding what it is that’s being called and how to get the ball run to the right, run to the left, or if it’s a pass where to throw the ball because he understands the coverage and the play that it goes with,” Banker said.
The best way to combat it? No. 1, Banker said, play better than the Hoosiers do. But the Huskers also will give some dummy calls from the sideline, have assistants who don’t usually call signals call some plays and use wristbands and other forms of communication.
“They do a lot of double calls and see what type of defense we’re in and re-call a play just to try to best benefit them,” senior safety Nate Gerry said. “So we have to be ready to address that.”
Banker and his staff have experienced this kind of thing before.
Arizona State did it, Banker said. And one year, Washington had two assistants on both sides of the sideline with a three-ring binder full of pictures of Banker and his assistants giving signals.
“I would move back and forth and you could see them just following you,” Banker said.
It works for some teams, Banker said, but in the end, it’s still just football.
The offense still has to execute the play and block and his defense still needs to fill gaps and tackle.
“It’ll be important for us to keep changing things up from a standpoint of how we send the call in,” Banker said.