Nebraska Football: Defensive changes are in store for 2019 season

(Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images) /

Nebraska Football will have a new-look defense in 2019.

Nebraska Football’s defense struggled last season. The Blackshirts gave up 440.7 yards per game, putting us in the 92nd spot out of 130 teams for that category. The defense performed poorly as a whole, but Coach Frost singled out linebackers Mohamed Barry and Luke Gifford as high energy players who were bright spots in a lackluster unit. Gifford is gone next year, but Barry will return for his senior season.

Along with Gifford, the Nebraska football defense will lose a couple more impact players, including defensive ends Freedom Akinmoladun and Mick Stoltenberg, linebacker Dedrick Young, strong safeties Aaron Williams and Antonio Reed, as well as free safety Tre Neal. Ben Stille and Khalil Davis will likely be the starting defensive ends next season. Khalil will be joined by his brother Carlos Davis, who could man the nose tackle position. Also thrown into the mix will be Oklahoma State graduate transfer Darrion Daniels. Daniels has a final year of eligibility remaining, and because he is a graduate transfer, the NCAA will allow him to play next year.

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With the departure of Dedrick Young, junior Collin Miller could man the interior linebacker spot. Also, JUCO transfer Will Honas will hopefully be one hundred percent healthy and ready to contribute and possibly start, providing the Huskers another option at inside linebacker. The linebacking group will welcome the bluechip homegrown talent Nick Henrich. Next season should provide some opportunity for growth for him, even if he takes a redshirt year.

We will also lose the services of safeties Aaron Williams, Antonio Reed and Tre Neal. Aaron Williams is perhaps best remembered for his pick-six against Wisconsin in 2017 that ultimately wasn’t enough to bring the Huskers a victory. Tre Neal is the transfer from UCF who left an undefeated team to become part of a rebuilding process. And, Antonio Reed was a solid contributor to the Husker secondary who unfortunately is also remembered for the unnecessary roughness call that resulted from his hit on Colorado receiver Jay Macintyre on the game-winning drive. Deontai Williams will likely handle the void at free safety left by Tre Neal. JoJo Domann, Cam’ron Jones, and Marquel Dismuke are a few of the contenders to fill the hole left by both Aaron Williams and Antonio Reed. Also of interest are incoming defensive back prospects such as Noa Pola-Gates, Myles Farmer, Quinton Newsome, and Javin Wright.

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The departures of several starters from an already-suffering unit is never a good thing. However, as some playmakers are moving on, Scott Frost has made sure to bring in a new batch of talented athletes. The old saying is defense wins championships. And, in a few years, I believe our defense could be a force. But, just in case the 2019 Blackshirts don’t look like the Blackshirts of old, I’ve been focusing on another old saying: “The Times, They Are A-Changin’.” With our electrifying offense, I don’t see why championships can only be won by the defense. I’m siding with Bob Dylan on this one.  Why not let the offense win us a couple of championships?