Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports
As Nebraska closed out the 59-20 victory over South Dakota State, I couldn’t help but wonder if the Huskers defense is just bad or really bad. The FCS No. 6 Jackrabbits managed to rack up 465 total yards with 227 of that coming on the ground. I went ahead and double checked the Jackrabbits roster to make sure it didn’t include a bulldozer in place of one of their lineman. Nope, the closest thing I found was a 6-8, 290 lb freshman named Nick Carr. Heck I don’t even know if the kid played, but the way Zach Renner trounced up and down the field averaging 9.6 yards a carry and gaining 223 total yards, you’d think Carr might have been misnamed (Nick Bulldozer has a nice ring to it). In reality the SDSU line probably wasn’t as talented as any of the upcoming Big Ten conference opponents lines will be. What will that mean for the young Husker defense? More than likely huge amounts of yards for the opposing offense.
Bo Pelini might have said it best in his post game interview. When talking about bye week priorities Pelini said, “The amount of times we shot ourselves in the foot is ridiculous.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself coach. Over the last three games the defense has looked exactly that, a unit full of huge holes. Wyoming, Southern Miss, UCLA, and even SDSU must have been packing heat. Nebraska has given up a total of 1,855 yards through four weeks of play. In comparison, conference foe, Michigan State’s defense has parted with only 756 yards total through their first four games. It’s not an illusion, the Blackshirts really do stink.
So what will Nebraska do to try and anchor the ship and slow down their opponents? According to Pelini the Blackshirts will work on tackling, assignments, and attitude. They’ll work on bringing the “me against the world” mentality that tough guy football demands. Perhaps that will work, perhaps not.
We’ll see if the extra time and practice a bye week provides, does anything for Nebraska football and it’s Blackshirt defense. For sure the bye weeks are good for fans, it allows for peace of mind and calmness, no game day stress. It gives the fan time to reflect and garner hope the coaches will find a way to fix what’s broken, which might be more than just the defense but, that’s definitely the starting point.
Alright, in concession, it’s not really all bad. One shinning note from this year’s version of the Blackshirts, is the NFL style of play by Stanley Jean-Babtiste. The senior cornerback from Miami, Fl is currently leading the country in interceptions (4) and interception return yards (134). If Jean-Babtiste continues the high quality play throughout the rest of the season, I realistically see him as an early round draft pick come this spring.