When Blackshirts Were Blackshirts: Jim Skow

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When Blackshirts Were Blackshirts: Jim Skow

We began our review of great Husker defenders with a recent example, now we go back a generation to defensive tackle Jim Skow. Skow had a monster campaign at defensive tackle in 1985. This was the heyday of the 5-2 defense for NU which means he was sort of like a defensive end in the modern 3-4 sets.

Skow led Nebraska in sacks (15), tackles for losses (25) and tied for the team lead in solo tackles (43). More importantly he keyed the kind of defense you need to have to bridge the gap between standout quarterbacks. 1985 was a year of sub-40% passers in McCathorn Clayton and Travis Turner. But that defense didn’t allow a single team to score more than three touchdowns. And for that reason, the string of nine win seasons that spanned five different decades at Nebraska continued.

At 6’3” and 250 lbs., Skow would be undersized by today’s standards and he no doubt benefited from lining up next to guys like Danny Noonan and Neil Smith. Still, he was the kind of player that changed the line of scrimmage and collapsed the pocket. He was a big reason the Huskers held opponents to just 3 yards per rush attempt, 5 yards per pass attempt, and forced them into throwing 20 interceptions and completing under 50% of their passes.

The Omaha native earned All-American honors as a senior and was drafted in the third round of the NFL draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. He would go on to play in Super Bowl XXIII where he tallied several tackles and a fumble recovery. He retired after seven years in the NFL. Not every great player gets to end his career as a conference or national champion, but Skow was a proud part of a tradition of great defense that lasted for decades.

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