Players for the Nebraska Cornhuskers knew it was only a matter of time before their defensive coordinator would be out they door. They knew he was too good of a defensive coach to not get an opportunity at the Division I level. So on Monday, December 5, 2011, Florida Atlantic had officially named Carl Pelini their new head coach.
While Bo Pelini remained coy about who would be his next defensive coordinator, he eventually announced that defensive line coach John Papuchis would be taking over for his brother. The move also prompted the hire of Rick Kaczenski from border and conference rival Iowa.
Now that Papuchis had a less than stellar debut, plus an off-season to work with his defense, what can we expect for the upcoming season?
One big thing Husker fans should look for is a less aggressive style on third down. Anytime the opponent had a third down against the Huskers, Pelini liked to ramp up the pressure and call a blitz. Sometimes it worked, but more often than not it resulted in the defense staying on the field.
With Papuchis at the helm, I cannot see him ramping up the pressure so often on third down. Instead, he will do it in different situations. Sometimes on short third downs, sometimes on longer third downs. Whatever the case, he has got to mix it up and be more unpredictable.
Another thing Papuchis might do differently is bring that pressure earlier. With more experienced corners for the Huskers, Papuchis can take the risk and put them on an island all by themselves. They have the play-making ability to do it, but they must show that they can.
Papuchis is the youngest defensive coordinator in the B1G 10 and has his work cut out for him.
Papuchis must work with Kaczenski to create a dominant front four for the Huskers. If the defensive line is able to get pressure without the help of a blitz, that essentially means the Huskers can drop seven players into pass protection, or all play the gaps if the opposition rushes.
The Huskers defense does not have to be aggressive this season. If they limited the long plays the defense would have been much, much better.