Nebraska Blackshirts: Adios Peso...Time for a New Idea for the Defense

Mike WehlingAnalyst IJanuary 13, 2011

LINCOLN, NE - OCTOBER 30: Defensive back Ciante Evans #17 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers breaks up a intended for wide receiver Wes Kemp #8 of the Missouri Tigers during second half action of their game at Memorial Stadium on October 30, 2010 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska Defeated Missouri 31-17. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images

All year, the Blackshirts were dominated by the run game.  What happened in most of the games was that teams would have success with the run, but Nebraska would be able to score more, forcing the opponents abandoned the run, which did not work well against the Blackshirt secondary, arguably one of the best in the country.

Don't believe me? Look at Washington back in September, they were slicing up the Huskers on the ground, but they could not score as fast as the Huskers and Locker went 4 of 20 passing.  They abandoned the run for disastrous results.  Texas had 62 passing yards, but 209 rushing yards, Gilbert was 4-16 yet had 6.5 yards per carry with two rushing scores.

Oklahoma State stayed in the game until they decided to just keep passing instead of using Hunter to the best of his abilities.  Texas A&M beat the Huskers with their balanced attack.  Now we saw Washington dominate Nebraska with the run game in the Holiday bowl.

Looking at the schedule for next year, Nebraska plays several teams that are very good at running the ball.  Nebraska will play  Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio State, ranked 12th 13th and 14th in rushing yards for last season respectively.  The Blackshirts will also pair up against several other good running teams next season.  In the 2010 season, the Huskers highest ranked rushing team was Kansas at 22, which with Kansas State being one-dimensional it was easy for them to key on Daniel Thomas all night.

Currently the Blackshirts run a 4-2-5 defensive scheme known as the "Peso" defense.  Bo created this defense to stop the spread offense that was being used in the Big 12 and around the country.  The secondary consisted of two cornerbacks, Prince Amukamara and Alfonzo Dennard, two safeties, Courtney Osborne, Austin Cassidy, P.J. Smith and Rickey Thenarse all rotated, and a nickel back or third safety, Dejon Gomes. 

The linebacker position was filled by Lavonte David, and the hybrid linebacker safety Peso position was filled by Eric Hagg.  Then the front four Nebraska had Pierre Allen and Cameron Meredith at defensive ends, and Baker Steinkuhler, Jared Crick and Terrence Moore sharing defensive tackle time.

Nebraska loses several key players in the Peso defense.  Dejon Gomes, Eric Hagg and Prince Amukamara are gone from the secondary, while Pierre Allen is gone with the defensive line.  Part of the reason Bo came up with the Peso was to keep talented players like Hagg and Gomes on the field.

Just as the Peso was designed for the spread offenses of the Big 12, the new defense I propose would deal with some of the run heavy offenses of the Big Ten.  Basically it is a 4-3-4 defense.

Secondary: 2 Safeties and 2 Cornerbacks

The past two seasons have shown that Nebraska has excellent talent in the secondary, and that should continue with the talent that is coming in.  Obviously, Alfonzo Dennard will lead the secondary, he is the most talented of the returning backs and has a killer instinct for the ball. 

The other cornerback spot I think will likely go to current freshman Ciante Evans.  Evans replaced Dennard when he was injured and did a great job.  The safety spots are currently held by Courtney Osborne and Austin Cassidy, but do not be surprised if  freshman Corey Cooper, whom coaches raved about on the scout team, manages to take a spot from the upper classmen.

With the talent in the secondary, Bo can free up an extra player to commit to stop the run and if need be, cover the short slant pass across the middle.

Linebackers: Three Linebackers

Nebraska only really had one linebacker this year, Lavonte David.  David made an instant impact on a weak linebacker corps wrecked by injuries in the pre-season.  At the end of the season, David set a school record for tackles with 152, breaking the record set by former Husker great Barrett Rudd. 

It is essentially David's job to lose in the off season.  The only problem with David is that he is rather small, weighing 210 pounds, definately smaller than the brusier backs of the Big Ten.  The other two linebacker positions are up for grabs.  Will Compton had a lot of playing time at linebacker late in the season, so he has experience.  Sean Fisher is also quick and strong and can drop back to defend the pass. 

While Compton would be a good choice, as well as Sean Fisher, the Big Ten's linebackers are big and powerful that can break through the big brusiers up front on the offensive line.  That is why I think Nebraska needs to have more power in the linebacker corps, and they have two players that can provide that. 

Eric Martin was a linebacker that moved to Defensive end during the season.  The other is Cameron Meredith, this may sound crazy, but he played linebacker during the Missouri game and was able to shut down the running game and was quick on his feet.

Defensive Line: Four Lineman

Jared Crick is staying, thank goodness, and Nebraska also returns Baker Steinkuhler and Terrence Moore who rotated the starting spot with Baker.  Nebraska also has several talented defensive lineman that are coming into the program that will progress under the tutelage of the Pelini brothers. 

At defensive end, Nebraska returns one starter in Cameron Meredith.  If they do use my idea of Cameron at linebacker, they need to replace two defensive ends.  They already have one talented defensive end with game experience in Jason Ankrah, the other if needed would be Josh Williams, Allen's backup this year.

Recap: 4-3-4

DE: Jason Ankrah

DL: Baker Steinkuhler/Terrence Moore

DL: Jared Crick

DE: Cameron Meredith

LB: Lavonte David

LB: Sean Fisher

LB: Eric Martin

CB: Alfonzo Dennard

CB: Ciante Evans

S: Austin Cassidy/Corey Cooper

S: Courtney Osborne/P.J. Smith

So adding another linebacker should help solve Nebraska's run problem, along with the progression of the defensive line.  Nebraska has talent in the secondary that should allow the coverage to blanket the receivers while the defensive line gets to quarterback.

Let me know what you think, I personal think this is the defense for our future, if it works then we just need the offense to play as well as they did in the early season last year, and we can win the Big Ten, or at least the Legends division.