Back in Black

How good can this year's defense be in Lincoln? The Huskers sport a pre-season all-conference selection at each level in the defense. What is scary is that despite the holes that had to be filled from last year to this year Nebraska's defense is installed.

If there is a word that has become synonymous with Bo Pelini and his football team its defense. The Nebraska defense was 11th nationally a year ago in total defense and 7th two years ago.

Lost from last season include first round draft pick Prince Amukamara along with Eric Hagg and Dejon Gomes who patrolled the same secondary. Nebraska also lost Pierre Allen off of the edge on the line.

Still, through all of those losses and just a week into fall camp the defense is installed according to Nebraska defensive coordinator Carl Pelini.

"We're in," Carl Pelini said. "We've got our total package in. Different days I'm trying to focus on different aspects of it; maybe lean towards a certain place. It's all in. We're just honing it up now."

Nebraska's first game of the season is September 3rd against Chattanooga. That gives Nebraska 23 days to hone it in. Pelini himself said that the installed is ahead of schedule.

"We're probably a week ahead of where we've ever been at this point. The guys know the system better they are more experienced with it at this point. They've picked it up fast and are handling it pretty well."

What's scary about this year's defense for Nebraska is potential. At each level Nebraska has a pre-season all conference selection with Jared Crick at defensive tackle, Lavonte David at linebacker and Alfonzo Dennard at cornerback.

Beyond those three though it's what Nebraska has surrounding them. The Huskers return starters like Cameron Meredith and Baker Steinkuhler on the defensive line. Nebraska also brings back Will Compton from last year and Sean Fisher from a serious leg injury which cost him all of last season.

But the real value might still be in the secondary. There are many players that got a chance to play or start at the safety position. Guys like Austin Cassidy, Courtney Osborne and P.J. Smith all started multiple games last year and played on all 14.

Nebraska also appears ready to inject the new guys at multiple spots this year. Carl Pelini went on in his interview to comment specifically on Daimion Stafford, a junior college transfer, that made it to Lincoln just a couple of short weeks ago.

You also have to consider that Stafford's team mate, Joe Carter, after being in Lincoln for about half the summer is gaining the respect of those around him and will see the field this fall as a defensive end.

Now these are expectations based on a coach at Nebraska's words. That was until Gary DiNardo was able to chime in with his thoughts on Nebraska. Dinardo sent out these tweets about the Nebraska defense:

"Neb.Prac D Line very good,deep & talented.The best programs have this kind of talent & depth in D Line.Most likely they'll play 8 in games."

"Neb. Practice - Secondary - talented - have to settle on starting 4 but will most likely play 7 guys. Like the way they practice back there"

And as if expectations couldn't be enough already Athlon recently ranked the Big Ten's best units. The Huskers were able to crack the top five at two spots on offense coming in at #5 at quarterback and #4 at running back.

But it was where the Huskers rated on defense that should have others taking notice. The Huskers swept the #1 honor at defensive line, linebackers and in the secondary.

I remember the teams of the 2000s when defense wasn't a strength. In fact, it was the weakness. It was when people would call the Blackshirts the Pinkshirts. You knew that it wouldn't last though.

Husker fans take pride, while things sounds like they are being addressed on the offensive side of the ball to improve offensive production the success of the 2012 Huskers will still be determined by the strength of the defense.

If that is the case for Nebraska, the sky is the limit. So keep your AC/DC CD close and play "Back in Black" as you need a fix between now and September 3rd. It's the most wonderful time of year to me.

Bryan Munson has worked with Big Red Report for nine years, covering recruiting and football. His work can also be seen in's SuperPrep Magazine
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