Going into spring practice, everybody inked Phillip Dillard into this season's starting lineup; after all, he has the most experience of any linebacker on the roster. But as spring practice unfolded, Dillard found himself buried on the depth chart. Going into fall practice, Dillard worked his way back up the depth chart, but hasn't played yet in the first two games.
But it looks like that could change this Saturday. Dillard has moved to WILL linebacker along side Blake Lawrence and Mathew May, and indications are that Dillard is working with the starters, per Sean Callahan of HuskersIllustrated.com. Not a huge surprise to me that Bo Pelini is trying to shake things up at linebacker; I felt the linebackers, especially Lawrence, struggled against Arkansas State last Saturday.
When asked about it yesterday in the Big XII teleconference, Pelini indicated that he wasn't worried about the young linebackers, but the question seemed to be focused on MIKE linebacker Will Compton and BUCK linebacker Sean Fisher. Perhaps Dillard can provide some leadership and a steadying influence in what should be the most hostile road environment the Huskers should face this season.
Linebacker play this week should be even more critical this week. Virginia Tech is going to play old-school football on Nebraska; none of this fancy spread finesse offense. The Hokies showed a power running game, and that means Nebraska needs more mass and better linebacker play on the field. Dillard could be a huge addition to the Nebraska defense this week, if he's resolved whatever issues caused him to disappear this spring and summer.