Never let it be said that we here at Bleacher Report aren’t fair. Last week, we gave you the 2011 offensive postseason awards for Nebraska, and now you get the defensive postseason awards. We make sure, especially during this season of giving, that no one feels left out.
I mean, it is a long offseason, and a special teams postseason award column will help fill that long void between January and August, now, won’t it?
Much like on offense, the defensive MVP was a bit of a no-brainer. Lavonte David not only led the way statistically for the Blackshirts, but came up with crucial turnovers (Ohio State) and stops (Penn State) to stop an already-disappointing 9-3 campaign for NU from careening into something truly unsightly.
David’s speed, vision and playmaking ability stood out in a year where Nebraska’s defense took an uncharacteristic step backward. It’s unfair to list David twice on this award show (as you will see later), but the Lavonte-David-sized hole in the middle of Nebraska’s defense will be very difficult to fill in 2012.
Hampered by injuries to start the season, Will Compton began just trying to keep up with the wizardry Lavonte David was demonstrating on the field. But as he got healthier, and as the season wore on, Compton began to show flashes of why he was such a highly sought after recruit. His combination of size and quickness was critical down the stretch for Nebraska, and his play gives the Children of the Corn some hope for the defense going into 2012.
This was a lot easier on offense, where the field was littered with freshmen making contributions. On defense, though, the kids struggled mightily when thrown out on their own due to Alfonzo Dennard’s injury. However, as the season progressed, Andrew Green managed to win back his job at cornerback and began to show significant progress. With another offseason of work, and with Dennard’s departure to graduation, Green looks primed to make a big step forward next season.
It’s tough to quantify this, because Jared Crick’s midseason injury cut short what his production would have been in 2011. But make no mistake, Crick is a top-level NFL talent at defensive tackle, one that doesn’t grow on trees. NU struggled with depth on the defensive line at the end of 2011, and was playing from behind from a talent standpoint ever since Crick went out. At least next year, Nebraska will know ahead of time that Crick won’t be coming back.
It’s not terribly fair to include Sean Fisher on this list, because it was painfully clear that Fisher never completely recovered from the injury that robbed him of his 2010 season. But, unfortunately, even when he was put out as a starting linebacker at the start of 2011, it became quickly apparent that Fisher wasn’t the same player he was before his injury. And, as became a common theme for the Nebraska defense, the NU coaches were in a position of needing to fill position holes at linebacker.
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