My previous installment, Offensively Speaking, Meet Nebraska's Studs and Duds went over so well that it would be pure foolishness not to look at the other side of the ball, the side I think we are all more confident about come fall time.
First, I want to say thanks to those of you who read and commented on my last article. It was a good discussion to have and I hope that you find this article just as informative and discussion worthy.
Ah, the defensive side of the ball. Tom Novak, Rich Glover, Trev Alberts, Grant Wistrom and Ndamukong Suh make up the upper echelon of Nebraska defensive dominants over the years. Not to mention names like Mike Minter, Jared Tomich or the Peter brothers. It has been Nebraska's Blackshirt defense that has garnered most of the attention since the 1970's, and it was also the side of the ball with the most to work on come 2008.
Pelini was brought in to fix the defense, and did he ever. Two years into his tenure at Nebraska, Pelini has brought Nebraska's defensive back from Pinkshirts (as they were called in the 2007 season) to Blackshirts in 2009 culminating with a shutout victory in the Holiday Bowl.
The swagger is back, the attitude is tough, and the precision is excellent. Nebraska has bought into Pelini's defensive system and it showed late in the season. Some people wonder though, how can this team be any better than last year, with the loss of key contributors Ndamukong Suh, Phillip Dillard, Larry Asante and Matt O'Hanlon?
The answer: Fill in the gaps.
Going into the 2010 season, it's time to meet Nebraska's defensive studs and duds.
Let's start with the position most fretted about (along with safety and linebacker) into the fall of 2010. Suh is gone and the question on everybody's mind for this year is: can Crick pick up the slack?
- Jared Crick: He wants it and he'll get it. Crick made noise last year breaking records in the Baylor game and capitalizing on teams double and sometimes triple teams of Ndamukong Suh. The question is, can he handle it? The rough and tumble Nebraska native should be able to. Crick is good because he plays with great leverage despite his 6'6" frame and has a quick first step. Crick learned a lot from Suh in his first year as a starter, and he may not be as good as Suh, but he will be formidable when the time comes.
- Terrence Moore: Despite people's strong inclination to put the former five-star recruit Baker Steinkuhler here, I think Moore should be more on the field in the spring than Steinkuhler did all last season. Don't get me wrong, Baker could still be the starter come fall time, but Moore will get significant playing time. Playing on the line is all about leverage, and I think Moore has that down a bit better than Steinkuhler.
- Baker Steinkuhler: Baker has the ability and physical gifts to do well in the defensive tackle position, but he must develop better technique. He kept getting pushed off the line in the spring game because he stood up too tall and didn't extend his hands. Baker will get playing time, but he could be great if he betters his mechanics.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!