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10.04.2011 / Where is the Nebraska defense? Blog posting by Mike Babcock, Huskers Illustrated Magazine.

Rewind to the Nebraska football pre-spring news conference in early March, when defensive coordinator Carl Pelini was asked if the defense was potentially the best during his time with the Huskers.

"Instead of developing into the best defense during his four year tenure at Nebraska, it has regressed to this point in the season"

“Yeh, for sure,” he said.  “I mean, we’re talented. We’ve got great leadership. I think we’re fast. And we’re physical. It’ll be interesting how it all comes together.”  Pelini was quick to clarify his assessment, however.  “I’ll never underestimate the importance of chemistry on the defense. You just never know what the final product’s going to be,” he said.

Though chemistry might not be the problem, five games into the season, Nebraska’s defense hasn’t looked like the best during his tenure and that of his brother, head coach Bo Pelini. “I’m embarrassed by how we played defensively,” Bo Pelini said following the Huskers’ 48-17 loss at Wisconsin.

The biggest concern was the 48 points, of course. That’s the bottom line. But Nebraska also allowed 486 yards, 231 rushing and 255 passing – including 233 yards passing in the first half.

The Pelinis’ fourth defense has struggled, and the Wisconsin game was more of the same. “We know the scheme works,” said Carl Pelini. “I think our guys play with good physical effort. I don’t think the mental effort is there. We have way too many breakdowns mentally.

“We’ve got a lot of problems to fix, that’s for sure. I think our tackling was poor in the run game. I think we need to make plays on the ball in the secondary.”  He has rotated young cornerbacks, trying to find a complement to senior Alfonzo Dennard, an All-America candidate who was sidelined by injury the first three games.

No one has stepped up on the other side. “A little bit of play-action and guys shouldn’t be wide open,” Carl Pelini said. “But it’s not just the corners. It’s at the safety position, too.   “We’ve got a lot of issues we’ve got to address as a defense.”

Instead of developing into the best defense during his four-year tenure at Nebraska, it has regressed to this point in the season. “It reminds me of year one (2008), sad to say, but that’s what it reminds me of,” he said. “We’ve had issues all year, and they (the Badgers) just did a nice job of exposing the issues we have. We’ve got to get those corrected if we’re going to play good defense this year.”

And obviously, the defense has to be good before it can be great.  For more great content on the Huskers, check out Huskers Illustrated Magazine and www.huskersillustrated.com.

Can the Huskers bounce back after their loss at Wisconsin?  What are your thoughts on the defense and offense?  Share your thoughts now.

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