Football Magazine

NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Top Five Things the Huskers Must Do To Be Big Ten Champs - No. 5

By Huskerlocker @huskerlocker

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By Ryan Donohue
- Improve By Leaps and Bounds on Defense
If Nebraska fans are staked out on the road to the Big Ten Championship Game, they’re watching for the Blackshirts to roll by. I’m not sure we’ve seen them yet. Fans would like to see this team improve on both sides of the ball, of course. Let's assume for a moment that Nebraska's mercurial offense will find uncanny ways to score at least 21 points in its remaining games.
The Huskers needs some defense. It's maddening to try and understand why Nebraska has fallen like a rock in almost every defensive category this year. These players aren’t unfamiliar to the system. Reasons given have been talent, coaching or schemes, but the decline appears to be driven by all three factors.
Let’s face facts: This is a young secondary that won’t rank more than "average" by season's end. The talent isn’t going to change much. Nebraska also just enjoyed a well-placed week off and a pushover opponent, perfect for coaches to reset and re-connect with their players. Given the secondary’s struggles, defensive improvement rests in the hands of the front seven with special emphasis on the front four.
Can they generate significant pressure, which doubles as a release valve for the secondary? Can they contain dual-threat quarterbacks as well as they did MarQueis Gray? The Ohio State game showed flashes of pressure, but that came against Joe Bauserman, a guy that makes defensive tackles look swift.
Championship-caliber teams find a way to bottle up quarterbacks of all kinds, or at least contain them. If the pressure falls entirely on the defensive line, losing Jared Crick was a cruel blow, but can new blood revitalize this group? Will the Huskers get back to camping out in the pocket and causing mayhem? If the defense is to take any steps forward, that progress will start up front.
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