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Nebraska's defense took a big step back in 2011, which came as a big surprise given preseason comments by former defensive coordinator Carl Pelini.
One of the biggest reasons for the struggles was the lack of a potent pass rush.
The Blackshirts had their moments in opponents' backfields, but the vast majority of the time they seemed to be stonewalled by even the most pillowy-soft of offensive lines. The loss of stud defensive tackle Jared Crick clearly compounded the problems, but even while Crick was healthy the Huskers had trouble bursting through lines.
Not only did this lead to the Huskers finishing just ninth (which seems to be a trend) in the Big Ten in sacks (21), but it also led to quarterbacks having more time to pick apart Nebraska's crippled and inexperienced secondary.
The line, specifically the defensive ends, must get better at putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Guys like Cameron Meredith, Eric Martin, Jason Ankrah and Joe Carter must work hard on their technique this offseason and become more aggressive.
Otherwise, a secondary that is now missing Alfonzo Dennard will struggle even more in 2012.