LINCOLN, Neb. – When Nebraska head coach Mike Riley tabbed Mark Banker as the Huskers’ defensive coordinator, a portion of the fan base cringed. Banker struggled at times with Oregon State, including in 2014.
With Nebraska’s total defense ranking No. 91 overall in the country and their pass defense even worse, those who were against the hire have even more ammunition than they had before.
On Monday, Riley was asked about the trust he has in his longtime coordinator. The two have worked together for 18 years.
“In the football sense of it, I know his extensive defensive football background,” said Riley. “I know more about the character and work that goes into it and the preparation that’s done and the bases that are covered.
“I’ve been with him through thick and thin. Good seasons and bad, top rated defenses and not so much. I know the consistency of work and the soundness that goes into how we teach and what we do. Now obviously those are words. You don’t see it, but I know what’s behind it all.”
After back-to-back weeks, where a opposing quarterback ran for a 50+ yard touchdown, Riley was forced to talk about the mentality of his defense at the moment.
“I actually don’t question who they are or what they’re trying to do,” said Riley. “I don’t think like that particular play I can measure as to kind of a breakdown in a guy running for 60 yards. I don’t want to throw that on the bus. I sense in general that this team tries. They’ve proven coming back and staying in it. I like that about them. I’ve liked this team from the beginning. I would tend to look at it more as a technical thing. We made a strategic error on that play without a guy in that gap. That was a mistake. That can be corrected. That’s how I tend to look at it
“Throughout the game, if I could pinpoint a lack of effort or trying I would. I don’t even know if I would say that to you because I’m not going to tell that about anybody. I would recognize it but frankly, I don’t.”
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