It all began at the 2014 Gator Bowl.
Defensive end Avery Moss was noticeably absent from the Huskers' trip to Jacksonville. When asked, head coach Bo Pelini simply told Brian Christopherson of the Lincoln Journal Star that it was "due to a personal issue back in Arizona."
At the time, there was speculation that Moss' absence was related to a Jan. 27 court appearance on a charge of public indecency and disturbing the peace that took place in December of 2012.
As it turns out, that's exactly why Moss was missing.
With the court hearing come and gone, the Associated Press' Eric Olson reports that the defensive end has been banned from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's campus until Dec. 31, 2014. Moss will have the opportunity to appeal the decision next December. Until then, he is no longer allowed on campus as a student or football player for Nebraska.
The loss of Moss is a disappointing one for the Huskers. It is immediately noticeable when it comes to the experience the Huskers now have on the defensive line.
Nebraska returns only one regular starter in All-Big Ten end Randy Gregory. From there, the Huskers have Aaron Curry and Vincent Valentine, who were part-time starters in 2013.
With Moss gone, the experience Nebraska has on the defensive line shifts things a bit. Curry and Valentine would have been expected to step up more in 2014 anyway. However, it would have been nice to have Moss' experience as additional support.
Moss appeared in nine games for Nebraska in 2013 and started in three as a redshirt freshman. In those games, he racked up some good numbers, including 36 tackles and 4.5 sacks.
His most memorable moment came against Northwestern. The defensive end returned an interception for a touchdown. While fans remember that game for Ron Kellogg III's Hail Mary pass, Moss' returned interception was vital to the win.
That play was a telling one as to what type of player Moss could have been for Nebraska. Losing him does create a void that needs to be filled.
As of now, it looks like sophomore Greg McMullen and JUCO transfer Joe Keels will step up into that void—especially after defensive end Darius Slade decommitted.
Ultimately, what it means for Nebraska is that the defensive line is going to have to make some unexpected adjustments. The defensive end position was already lacking depth. Moss was expected to start opposite Gregory at defensive end in 2014.
The experience between them both would have made them a tough duo at their position.
With that no longer an option, Pelini will have a lot to work to do with the defensive line before next fall. However, the experience of Valentine, Curry and Gregory will help. Additionally, the Huskers do have good backups with McMullen and Keels. A.J. Natter will also be on hand, if needed.
However, Moss' departure could mean bigger changes for the defensive line. The Huskers have good depth at the interior line spots. Pelini also has a powerful group to count on at linebacker. It may mean the head coach will consider realigning to a different formation, such as the 3-4.
Changing the formation would be out of the norm for Pelini, though. While he may not wish to switch things up, it's a positive to know the option is there.
In the end, not having Moss on the roster is a big loss. His absence will be felt and noticed.
While Moss could appeal the university's decision next December, it's not worth the Huskers holding their breaths. He will likely not be playing for Nebraska in the future.
That means 2014 will be a year of rebuilding Nebraska's defensive line.
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