Category Archives: Ndamukong Suh

Nebraska Defensive Line Plays far Below Blackshirts’ Standards

BY TODD NEELEY

I wrote on the pages of this blog before the beginning of the 2010 season that Nebraska’s biggest concern coming in was the loss of Ndamukong Suh and other key defenders from a 2009 defense that was among the best in the country, https://neeley10.wordpress.com/2010/07/27/suhs-departure-shouldnt-be-lost-in-preseason-qb-discussion/.

But the press glossed over Suh’s departure as if we’ve returned back to the days when Nebraska just reloads.

In three of the past four games we’ve seen clearly that those days are long gone.

If this is Nebraska’s attempt to reload on the defensive line, then the program is out of ammunition.

The Nebraska run defense is horrible — (thank you Captain Obvious).

Junior Jared Crick has underperformed, and the trio of Baker Steinkuhler, Pierre Allen and Cameron Meredith have been a huge letdown.

If Nebraska is going to win titles in 2010 it will be because Bo Pelini and company coached their tails off.

A pretty average Texas team pushed NU’s defensive line all over the field, and put pressure on a back seven that struggled to tackle in a 20-13 Nebraska loss in Lincoln.

Saturday on the road at Oklahoma State the Nebraska defense took another step back.

Kendall Hunter rushed for more than 200 yards and OSU made mincemeat of the Nebraska defense in the first half in NU’s 51-41 win.

And much has been made about how well Taylor Martinez and the Nebraska offense played against the Cowboys. But Martinez’ 400-plus total yards of offense is something that should have been expected against what was a bad defense — so nothing much has changed.

As a friend of mine said after the ugly win against South Dakota State in Lincoln, let’s see how Nebraska does against good competition before we say this program is “back.”

Nebraska is back, but it’s not the badass it was in the ’90s.

NU’s offensive performance was ‘pretty’ but it’s not much to realistically get excited about. At some point the Nebraska offense is going to have to explode against a team with a good defense.

And the alarm bells should be sounding on this Nebraska defense.

NU’s highly touted corner backs Prince Amukamara and Alfonzo Dennard found themselves out of position for much of the first half against OSU.

Talk about putting guys on an island.

They’re arguably the best pair of corners in the country, but Nebraska’s startling lack of pass rush is hurting this team.

Against Oklahoma State NU coaches rarely called blitzes. This allowed OSU quarterback Brandon Weeden to stand in the pocket in the first half and throw bombs to Justin Blackmon, or hand off to Hunter who made it look easy to get to the second level of the Nebraska defense.

The spin in the Nebraska press Sunday is ‘well, Nebraska made stops when it had to.’

That’s true, but Nebraska took control of the game in the second half because its offense kept OSU off the field by moving at will against an even worse Cowboy defense.

It wasn’t that the NU defensive line strapped it on in the second half, it didn’t have to.

Now Missouri comes to Lincoln after knocking off No. 1 Oklahoma in Columbia.

Here’s how I see it.

My biggest criticism of undefeated MU to this point has been that the Tigers hadn’t really beaten anyone of significance so far — yeah, kinda like Nebraska.

Against OU Missouri proved it is for real.

Unless the Nebraska defense finds religion this week in practice this game could be Missouri’s to lose.

The MU offensive line is one of the best I’ve seen this season. They are experienced and they give quarterback Blaine Gabbert plenty of time to throw. That’s bad news for Nebraska.

This doesn’t bode well for a Nebraska defensive line that hasn’t been able to get a push up front in the games that have mattered.

And surprisingly, the Missouri running game led by Henry Josey, De’Vion Moore and Kendial Lawrence, was potent against the Sooners. They don’t line it up and just run right at teams, but with the spread offense teams get lulled into defending five receivers and the next thing you know, boom, they pop off a 30-yard run.

You’d think the Nebraska defense would be better equipped than many teams because it faces NU’s spread offense in practice every week. I don’t suspect this will matter much this week.

The main reason Nebraska overcame a 12-0 defecit in the second half at Missouri last year to win 27-12, was that Suh never let Gabbert get comfortable in the pocket.

There’s not a defensive lineman on the Nebraska roster that will be able to get a push on that MU offensive line.

To make matters worse, NU could be without injured defensive end Piere Allen. Unfortunately it is difficult to blitz Gabbert and that offense because he doesn’t hang on to the ball long and is athletic enough to run when things break down.

The case can be made that Nebraska faced the best offense it will see in the regular season against Oklahoma State, and that MU doesn’t have anywhere near the same caliber of playmakers on offense as the Cowboys.

But what Nebraska doesn’t need at this point in the season is to go up against probably the best offensive line it will face all season.

That’s where the game will be lost for NU unless Pelini and company can find a way to pressure Gabbert.

Oddly enough, I think Nebraska would be better off playing this game in Columbia.

NU has been awful at home this season and has proven that no matter how charged the home crowd is, it just isn’t a factor that favors Nebraska.

Here’s how it will shake out on Saturday.

Nebraska will have to hope its offense continues the momentum it gained this week, because the Blackshirts are in for a long day. Right now, though, the Missouri defense is much improved from last season and playing very well.

I think NU will be able to score on this defense, but I think we’re starting to see the unraveling of the Nebraska defense — at least in 2010.

Missouri 31, Nebraska 28

Pelini Once Told Suh: ‘You Stink’

The Lincoln Journal Star’s Brian Rosenthal reports that Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini told a coaches clinic audience in Lincoln Tuesday that when he first sat down with Ndamukong Suh following the coaching change, let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. http://www.huskerextra.com/articles/2010/07/27/football/doc4c4f542cb8d28384586156.txt

Rosenthal reports that Suh told Pelini that he was thinking about transferring, because he didn’t want to go through a coaching change.

Pelini did what any good recruiter would do, he told Suh that he ‘stinks.’ Check it out…

Suh’s Departure Shouldn’t be Lost in Preseason QB Discussion

By Todd Neeley

The quarterback spot is a glamour position on the football field, no doubt about it.

While virtually all of the preseason talk so far at Nebraska centers on who will start behind center — Zac Lee, Cody Green or Taylor Martinez — there are question marks that are equally as big on the other side of the ball in the defensive interior.

It’s not every day that teams are forced to replace arguably one of the best defensive tackles to ever play at the collegiate level in Ndamukong Suh.

Suh really was the reason why Nebraska’s defense returned to the top 10 among all units across the country.

And he’s the reason junior Jared Crick had an all-Big 12 season in 2009. Game in and game out Suh drew the double team, leaving Crick virtually one on one. Most of the time Crick responded by chasing down quarterbacks.

It was forgetten in the Suh mania that as a unit, Nebraska’s defensive line was very good. That’s because Barry Turner turned his finest season as a Husker, as well, and went virtually unnoticed. That consistent pressure up front made NU’s back seven look good all season long.

Without Suh, we’ll find out just how far Nebraska has come.

Crick is a nice player, and the guy will play somewhere on Sunday eventually, but he isn’t Suh.

Yeah, I get it, the quarterback spot is important. Who Bo Pelini picks as the starter will set the tone for the offense and ultimately team leadership.

Clearly, though, if Nebraska is going to make a return to the nation’s elite it will rely heavily on its defense, as it has throughout its rich tradition.

The 2009 season was the best illustration as to why defense is so important to this program.

Nebraska’s turmoils on offense last year have been well documented. To put it bluntly, NU couldn’t consistently move the ball even against soft defenses.

In the 13-12 loss to Texas in the conference championship game, Nebraska’s best offense was kicker Alex Henery, who scored enough points for the defense to win the game. NU’s game plan that day was to not screw up on offense, while Suh and company ripped UT to shreds.

Again, Nebraska came within one play of winning the title, solely on Suh’s back.

That’s why finding three or four guys to try to fill that void is the single biggest factor that will ultimately determine NU’s success in 2010. Baker Steinkuhler is the lead guy expected to fill that spot, but he’s the leader among a group of young, inexperienced players up front.

Crick will draw double teams all season long, much like Suh. This means Nebraska will have to be good across the board on defense. But let’s face it, Pelini’s creativity in drawing up defensive strategy is the x factor. He’s already proven that good coaching is everything.

On offense, it’s important that Nebraska find one guy to lead the way — the quarterback-by-committee approach has never really worked at all. It’s a leadership position that will require someone to step up, big time.

The same can be said of the Blackshirt defense.

That’s where this program has quickly gotten back on track, and now is not the time to lose sight of the bigger goal of winning championships.

Nebraska can win a lot of games with the talent it has on offense. But NU will win championships only if a primo is placed on defense.

I’m not saying Pelini was focused on the quarterback spot at Big 12 media days in Dallas Monday to deflect questions about Suh’s absense, but let’s face it, it’s not a bad idea to talk about the QB spot when you’ve got a huge hole to fill on the other side of the ball.

Sometimes distraction can be a good thing.

Suh Heads Nebraska Hall of Fame Class

Outland, Lombardi, Nagurski and Bednarik award winner Ndamukong Suh headlines a distinguished class of eight Huskers who will be joining the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 2010, according to the University of Nebraska sports information office.

In addition to Suh, a 2009 All-American who became the first defensive player in history to be named the AP National Player of the Year, the 2010 Hall of Fame class includes former Huskers Dan Alexander, Steve Lindquist, Todd Millikan, Ed Periard, Bob Pickens, Carlos Polk and Chris Spachman.

The new class of Nebraska Football Hall of Fame members will be inducted on Friday, Sept. 3, before being honored on the field during Nebraska’s game with Western Kentucky at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 4. Suh is not expected to attend the festivities because of his NFL commitments, but he will be honored at a future date.

From the state college ranks, Doane College’s Mike Sallier and Nebraska Wesleyan’s Noland Urban will join the former Husker inductees in 2010. The Hall will also recognize former Nebraska Chancellor Clifford Hardin with its Presidents Award, while David and Peggy Sokol will receive its Clarence E. Swanson Meritorious Service Award. Jon and Joyanne Van Bloom will be honored with the Lyell Bremser Special Merit Award.

The Nebraska Football Hall of Fame is sponsored by the Nebraska Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame. The College Football Hall of Fame opened in South Bend, Ind., in 1995.