Nebraska Football: Chinander deserves credit for defensive performance

Scott Frost of the Nebraska Cornhuskers and defensive coordinator Erik Chinander walk (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)
Scott Frost of the Nebraska Cornhuskers and defensive coordinator Erik Chinander walk (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images) /

The Nebraska Football defensive coordinator deserves some credit.

I’ll admit, I have been very critical of Nebraska football defensive coordinator Erik Chinander ever since I began covering this team. I thought at times the defense looked lost, especially last year. This year however, I have to give him credit.

The improvement on defense was noticeable for Nebraska football. The Journal Star gave Chinander the award of top Husker assistant coach for the 2020 season. I think it’s well-deserved.

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One of the things that really stuck out to me this year for the Nebraska football defense is their ability to play better in coverage. That of course is courtesy of a veteran Nebraska football secondary. However, credit should be given nonetheless. I thought the cornerbacks were better prepared to defend the pass this year than they were last year.

Another thing that I really noticed about this Nebraska football defense was the energy of the unit. Although it may seem a little bit simplistic to say, this defense played with a lot more energy than they did in 2019. They flew to the football, made  solid tackles when they could, and tried hard every play. They played much more physically than they did last year.

Just look at how they played when defending the run. In 2019, they allowed 188.7 yards per game last season. In 2020, that number dropped significantly. They allowed 169.5 yards per game. The run defense got better as the season went on, and it really showed.

There were times last year I thought the Nebraska football defense gave up. That didn’t seem to be the case as much this year.

Sure, the defensive unit is going to have lapses. One of the lapses I noticed consistently was that they seemed to give up a score on the first drive in the course of the game. Whether it was the first drive to begin the game or the first drive of the second half, that seems to be an Achilles’ heel for the Nebraska football defense.

Nevertheless, they showed resolve and always played hard the rest of the game. That was certainly an improvement from last year. Last year, I felt as though they gave up at times, and played like they did not want to be on the field. This year, I felt that they played a complete game throughout the course of each game. Players knew where to be defensively, and to me that was huge. They seemed like they had a better understanding of their assignments.

I agree with Steven M. Sipple. The defense was noticeably improved this year, and Chinander deserves a lot of credit for that. I’ll be interested to see what he can do in year four, with veterans coming back and even more defensive talent to work with.