The Nebraska Cornhuskers defense has been itching to get back onto the field after they were embarrassed against a South Carolina squad led by head coach Steve Spurrier. The Huskers defense squad, led by newly minted defense coordinator John Papuchis, has had an off-season to get better.
For the Cornhuskers, they have to enter this season without their best player to come through in a long time. Lavonte David is now off in the NFL and the defense has a huge hole to fill.
Will Compton has stepped up to become the vocal leader of the defense this season. His counterpart last year, Sean Fisher, is also expected to start opposite Compton for the blackshirts.
But who starts at the third linebacker position? Zaire Anderson? Michael Rose? Alonzo Whaley?
Whaley has spent the past four years in the Cornhusker program and knows this system better than any of the other players. Whaley played sparingly throughout the year, but did decent in his last three games, recording six tackles.
Zaire Anderson was one of the best junior college linebackers in the country last year, receiving multiple scholarship offers from some of the biggest programs in the country. Anderson instincts and skill are similar to David, which could provide a huge boost to the defense.
Michael Rose was perhaps the biggest catch of the 2012 class for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Rose has been called the next David, but he is far too raw at the moment. However, if he were to get some playing time, he could quickly become a great linebacker for the Huskers.
Initially, experience is going to win out for the starting job. Whaley may not be the best player, but he knows the system better than anyone else. However, if Anderson and Rose pick up the system quickly, they should get a lot of playing time.
The Huskers defense this year is going to be different, which means that it really is a toss up game who is going to start. However, experience and familiarity is going to win out initially. In the long run, however, expect to see Anderson on the field leading the charge for the blackshirts.