Eric Francis/Getty Images
Again, this is something Nebraska fans would love to chalk up to the “youth” thing, but the problem is bigger than that.
When asked about whether there was a common thread in the defense’s struggles during the first quarter of the season (according to Terry Douglass of the Grand Island Independent), defensive coordinator John Papuchis said, “[S]ometimes it’s hard to evaluate when you don’t tackle anyone and have missed assignments all over the place.”
That answer (which we have heard variants of from most of Nebraska’s defensive coaches this season) is more an indictment of defensive technique than overall scheme. And to the coaches’ defense, there has been some self-reflection and analysis as to whether the scheme itself needs some modification.
Indeed, you can see a number of structural changes (including the increased use of a three-man front) that have been implemented in hopes of stopping the leaks.
So while the schemes can be dissected and debated, one unavoidable fact remains. If Nebraska’s defense is unable to follow assignments and tackle well—and evidence at this stage suggests it is not—then the defense will have a weakness regardless of the scheme.
If you'd like to contact Patrick, send an email to email@example.com.
Or, you could always use the Twitter machine to follow @patrickrunge.