04.13.2010 / The Husker Peso. Blog posting by Mike Babcock, Huskers Illustrated Magazine.

Nebraska defensive coordinator Carl Pelini was asked how the Cornhusker defensive alignment came to be called Peso. The question was posed following a recent practice.

"In over-simplified terms, the 'peso' involves using the nickel back as a linebacker sometimes and as a defensive back in others."

“It means ‘five,’” he said, uncertainly. Well, maybe not. “It doesn’t have any meaning except that we were trying to think of another word for nickel, five,” said Pelini. “So it’s five.” Then, reconsidering, he added: “I took Latin, so...”

Actually, the literal translation of the Spanish word “peso” is “weight.” It’s the name of a domination of the currency of Mexico, though not equivalent to a nickel. The Spanish word for five is “cinco.” Even so, “peso” will have to do.

By now, die-hard Husker fans have accepted 'peso,' and they probably have at least a cursory knowledge of its meaning as it relates to the defense. In over-simplified terms, the 'peso' involves using the nickel back as a linebacker sometimes and as a defensive back in others.

The nickel back is Eric Hagg. Though the coaches have maintained there is no depth chart this spring, that every position has been up for grabs, make no mistake, Hagg is the nickel – and has been for the past two seasons. His skills have contributed to the emergence of the 'peso'.

Hagg is big enough and strong enough to step up into the box against the run, like a linebacker. But he also has the pass-cover skills of a defensive back, specifically a safety. So instead of three linebackers in its 4-3 base alignment, Nebraska now uses two – or one in its dime package – with Hagg adjusting according to the offensive personnel. Rather than replacing a linebacker in certain situations, Hagg has already replaced one; he’s on the field.

“A lot is being made of nothing,” said Pelini. “Not one call is changed. Literally, when they’re (opponents) in a base offensive package, we are playing with three linebackers. And when they are in an open-set, we are playing in a nickel defense... we just have one guy who we expect to play a linebacker spot in a base set and be our ‘adjust’ guy out of the box when they go one-back.”

You can look for the 'peso' on Saturday, in the annual Red-White spring game.

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