If you’ve ever wondered how Nebraska football under Matt Rhule arrived at the 3-3-5 defense, it turns out the best coach in history is to blame.
After the departure of Scott Frost, Erik Chinander, and eventually, Bill Busch, Nebraska football fans were rightfully curious about the kind of defense that would be featured in Lincoln next. Then Tony White was hired, and he brought his innovative 3-3-5 defense with him.
Considering that Tony White and Matt Rhule had never worked together before they teamed up in Lincoln, questions about just why the new Nebraska football coach chose the former Syracuse DC in the first place were bound to pop up. It turns out a legendary Husker coach played a big part.
Rhule shed some light on how that all went down when he appeared on the Husker Radio Network earlier this week.
"It was really listening to Coach Osborne talk about making Nebraska a place where people have to adjust to something in just two or three days. Again, he was talking about the option. On defense, let’s do something I know a little bit about from my history. Is it simpler? Our guys have taken to it and learned it but a lot of it has to do with their hard work as well."
Obviously, Osborne didn’t specifically walk up to Rhule and say “your defense should be 3-3-5,” but it’s clear that the new Nebraska football coach got his inspiration from the legend of Lincoln.
Nebraska football coach loves 3-3-5 approach
All good coaches know when they’re presented with a good idea. But it’s worth noting that Rhule was leaning in the direction Osborne might have pushed him.
"When I was at Temple we were really good on defense. We were in the Top 25 for three of the four years. We always mixed around with some three-down (lineman) stuff. We’d run some 3-3 stuff. Then when we got to Baylor, you know it’s a wide-open offense. We played a little bit of it but the last year we ran a true 3-3 and jumped through the roof and won 11 games. That was my history with it, I knew Tony and knew the success he was having."
It certainly seems like once Rhule decided he wanted to “do something different” with the defense he went out and got White, who has been an up and comer for a while now.
We’re just a week away from Nebraska football’s first game of the Matt Rhule era. What White’s defense does is going to have a massive impact on how things go. And it’s possible we might all be thanking Tom Osborne one more time.