We continue our tour through local Nebraska food with another stop for something homegrown, only there are some mixed reviews. Omaha Steaks are a known brand across the country and their 'mail anything anywhere' approach is enough to tip the scales in their favor. The problem is, are they really much better than the steaks you buy at your local grocery store? The jury is out, and while the floor in quality of the Omaha Steaks is much higher than say, the steaks you buy out of a dude's van in the Wal-Mart parking lot, the ceiling probably isn't drastically higher either. This seems like an excellent segue into talk about the Nebraska defense, no?
The Nebraska Cornhusker defense lost pretty much its entire defensive line, but does replace that with a significant amount of star power. Considering how awful they were on defense - last year passing, all of the years before, rushing - can it even be possible that they get better? Like, the idea of Nebraska allowing more passing yards is mind-boggling, but if they stick to quarters, are they destined to fail? Is DC Mark Banker in over his head? What should we expect in 2016, especially in a mediocre West - at least offensively?
Townie: You want ten wins, you better fucking hope they improve. This is the biggest question mark on the team and I don’t know what to expect. The defense was uniformly terribad last year. You just couldn’t close out a game. I don’t know what your expectations should be...but mine are low. All you can "expect" to do in the West is beat Pur...oops.
AlNamiasIV: Yesterday, I said the Huskers biggest problem wasn’t at quarterback. No, the biggest problem was defense, specifically pass defense. 122nd in the country in overall pass defense? 125th in allowing passing plays over 20 yards? No. of top 20 passing offenses in the country that Nebraska faced? Zero. That said, it was a young secondary, and I do think it will improve, but will it improve enough? What should we expect? I expect improvement, but I don’t know that improvement will be enough in Lincoln, especially over last year’s mess. I expect an overall improvement toward above average, and no, above average defense won’t be good enough for 10 wins.
Stew: The back 7 is basically the same, yes? Well, good luck with that. They weren’t just young, they were bad. Young good players are inconsistent, not just plain bad. Add in a young front 4, and there could be some very ugly games out there.
AK: I always find the sentiment that "well we were bad even with those good players, how much worse can it get" to be kind of misplaced. Nebraska could easily get a lot, lot worse. You generally expect improvement in a staff's second year once guys aren't struggling to remember the calls as much, but maybe Banker is irredeemable rubbish.
Jesse: Honestly, I'm not here to totally disagree with any of my colleagues, but I would offer a slight pause if I may. Nebraska's defense looked functional by the end of the year, and while there were still momentary lapses, the secondary almost looked downright defensive by the bowl game. Now, I would argue that some of that is situation and a lot of it is that the Iowa game was basically two big plays on the backs of a freezing col game. Still, I think the defense could perceivably get better with the simple fact of having a second year to build off of.
That in mind, the defensive line terrifies me. Nebraska loses four productive starters from its 2015 year, two of which are now NFL draftees, and we are kind of left to reckon with the fact that it's all about the RS Freshmen and a converted TE. The athleticism is there, but if they cannot provide an adequate pass rush, the next year or so could be iffy. I hope that's not the case, but I have a sneaky suspicion I'm going to be hating this defense for great stretches of times next season.