2008 Husker Defense Preview - The Jupe Noire
“The talent is too plentiful to underachieve much like they did last year. Nebraska has been making strides since the embarrassment of two years ago. Big 12 opponents need to beware” - NationalChamps.net
“The Husker linebackers are considered the finest in the conference.” - Huskermike.blogspot.com
“ Linebacking is the strength of this defense, led by two, two year starters. The secondary will be better. Establishing a defensive line will be key.” - CNNSI.com
“In the North, you’ll most likely see the Nebraska Cornhuskers emerge and meet up with south champ Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship game” - locksmithsports.cicks.com
“Nebraska proved to be difficult for other teams to figure out (defensively), expect more of the same this season. The linebackers look to dominate the middle, while the secondary should be a winner. This could be one of Nebraska’s best. The Big 12 North looks like a shoe in. The Big 12 Championship is a possibility as is a BCS bowl bid and victory” - Madduxsports.com
Let’s talk about your Blackshirts for a moment shall we?
You remember the blackshirts don't you? That vaunted unit of Nebraska pride that year in and year out dominated teams and sent them home in body bags? Remember when... despite an anemic passing game and questionable coaching.... you could always count on the Husker defense to pulverize opposing backs and stuff rival offenses in their tracks? Trev, The Peter Brothers, Grant...the list goes on and on.
Ummmm, yeah. That’s gone.
The quotes you see at the beginning of this column should not surprise you, just as they should not shock you in any way shape or form. They should not make you scratch your head, nor should you challenge that they are valid quotes…because oh trust me…they are.
No, they should look familiar because all of these quotes came from various sources almost exactly one year ago. Despite some obvious “holes to fill” last season.... pundits and Pollyanna’s alike all simply assumed that the Husker defense would be strong enough to withstand pretty much any challenge that came they way in 2007. And hey…even if they couldn’t…at least they could hold off teams long enough for “The best offense in the Big 12” to take over a game. Sam and Mo would make sure that the defense was always coming back onto the field in attack mode. Ruthless...vicious...rock solid. Yes, this was the blackshirts.
Now, you and I both know that it would not take me much effort to tell you how bad of a defensive unit Nebraska fielded in 2007. In fact, it would be borderline insulting for me to actually go and attempt to find the words to describe just how wretched and pathetic your team actually was. Oh sure, you gave up 28 or more points NINE times…and yes, you gave up 40 or more points SIX times….but seriously; don’t you think even I am below calling you out for that?
And sure, there is the 116th ranked rushing defense, the 112th ranked total defense…the 114th ranked scoring defense and of course the 117th ranked turnover margin. But again I ask you…what fun would there be in re-hashing that? Is there any way to rationally discuss that even if we wanted to?
No, with all of the numbers that spun your skull in 2007...the real number you need to think about is 56. Why 56? Because contrary to popular belief, this defense did not take some nose dive off a cliff. Last year’s spectacular free-fall into the charcoal black depths of hell was not instantaneous. 56 was the Total Defense ranking of the Huskers in 2006….exactly one year before your most humiliating performances of any unit you have ever put on the field.
So if your defense was ranked 56th in total defense in 2006...(which is barely in the upper half), can you tell me one reason why all of those accolades mentioned above were placed on your team at the start of 2007? Can you tell me why ANYBODY would be butt ass stupid enough to look at a program starting an entire new front four…a gimpy group of crappy linebackers and a bunch of no-name defensive backs and have the sack to say publicly that they would…”Be one of the Big 12’s best?”
I know why….
Because with your name recognition fading faster than the career of James Blunt, you people have somehow convinced yourself that simply taking the field with plain white helmets and a big ol lame N on the side is good enough to stop opposing offenses. Somehow, just the mention of a mythical article of clothing is somehow supposed to put the fear of god into opposing offensive coordinators?
“But crazy blog guy, that was all Kevin Cosgrove’s fault. We have a whole new start now!” Forgive me if I’m wrong..but wasn’t your last defensive coordinator before Kevin Cosgrove (and before Pelini’s one year audition to become Bob Stoop’s coffee gopher) a scapegoat for all your woes? Aren’t you the same people that nearly burned Craig Bohl’s house to the ground because his defenses were getting lit up left and right? Is that the order you're trying restore?
Do you see the one constant yet in all this?
I personally don’t believe the blackshirts are going to be that much better this year, quite frankly because they haven’t been worth a shit in a long long time. Do you think you have the NFL talent that was on your roster in 2003 when Bo Pelini was here last? Do you think you even have anywhere near LSU talent? (Did you know King Bo's defense gave up 24 or more points in 7 of LSU's last 9 games last year? Did you know that King Bo's LSU defense gave up over 27 points per game during that same span? I'm guessing you didn't. They sure skunked Middle Tennessee State though didn't they?)
But enough about stats and common sense. Do you really think you can turn all of this around, simply by having a guy come in…dumb down the scheme and make players “try harder?” SERIOUSLY? Aren’t you people supposed to be pretty sharp? TRY harder?!?! Do you honestly think Ricky Thenarse is going to be thinking about how great the 91 Huskers were as he’s trying to chase down Michael Crabetree? Do you think Ty Steinkuhler is going to be waxing poetic about TO’s first National Title when Sam Bradford is throwing 500 straight completed passes over his head...all from the comfy confines of a giant green space about 15 yards beyond his grasp?
Friends, your problem was not Kevin Cosgrove. Your problem is not me. Your problem is not “trying harder”. Your problem is the fact that you people convinced yourself that your defense has been worth anything over the past several years in the first place. Once again...the constant here is you and your complete and total lack of realistic expectations.
Will NU be better than last season on the defensive front? I dunno…maybe. Do you honestly believe it’s within repair to take a team with zero talent and make them into world beaters? In the best offensive league in the country? Can you survive the spread offenses of Tech, Missouri, Oklahoma or Kansas? Hell, can you stop Iowa State?
With all of that being said, why should I even attempt to preview your defense at this point? Apparently, I don’t even have to. It seems that according to your logic, you could put the cast of America's Next Top Model on the other side of the ball, and as long as your coach pounds his fist against the wall and has his team listen to Red Ranger’s Lunatic Fringe at full volume before a game…you’ll come out a winner.