Under head coach Bo Pelini, the Cornhuskers defense started his tenure well, becoming one of the best in the country. However, since Ndamukong Suh left the program, the unit has been inconsistent.
After watching the Huskers get thrashed by the UCLA Bruins in Pasadena last week, many were questioning whether defensive coordinator John Papuchis was the right guy for the job.
Against the Arkansas State Red Wolves on Saturday, Husker fans saw a lot of good against the seventh-best offense in the country coming into today.
Nebraska held the Red Wolves to just 286 yards, compared to the 574 they averaged through their first two games.
Against the run, the Huskers were decent today against a smaller offensive line. The four yards per carry average is still higher than I would like to see, and I’m sure Papuchis and Pelini would agree.
Against the pass, Nebraska played well, limiting the Red Wolves to just 138 yards on 16-32. The defense stayed home on a fake fourth down play and P.J. Smith picked it off.
The defense did a much better job of tackling today as well. I was impressed how many more one-on-one plays the Huskers made today compared to last week, when UCLA won almost every single one.
Arkansas State was 6-16 on third down, which is better, but Nebraska still has to do better. The defense needs to get off the field more often, but no one is going to complain too much with Saturday’s showing.
The Huskers are going to see more of the spread offense as the year goes on when they play both Michigan and Ohio State. However, in those games, Nebraska will have to dominate the line of scrimmage better than they did today.
Arkansas State had a lot of running room, and with athletes like Ohio State’s Braxton Miller and Michigan’s Dennard Robinson instead of Ryan Aplin, the Huskers defense could have surrendered quite a few more points and yards.
Looking ahead to next week, the Huskers take on the Idaho State Bengals. It will not be a great test defensively, but the week after, when Wisconsin comes to town, we will really see how the Huskers have improved, especially with Monte Ball coming right at them.