Looking at the interior defensive line, Nebraska only really loses Terrence Moore. We kind of forgot about Jared Crick, as he got hurt early in the season and really wasn't much of a factor this season. I guess that's the downside of returning for your senior season; we can only speculate as to whether the injury will hurt Crick's NFL prospects.
Mike: It's hard to say how much Jared Crick was hurt earlier in the season, but I don't think Nebraska lost much when he finally was ruled out. Chase Rome did a pretty good job replacing him as a freshman. Baker Steinkuhler had his moments all season wreaking havoc inside. He's no Ndamukong Suh, but that's a ridiculous standard to hold a guy to. This is another group that I'd just like to see overall improvement from, and that's where the Rick Kaczenski hire comes into play
Jon: Is this karma? Did we get spoiled by watching Ndamukong Suh toss players around only to have our star defensive tackle pay the price by missing most of his senior season? It sure seems like it. Or were the injury problems due to playing in a new conference? It's easy to say, but Crick was gone for the year before conference play started.
What a disappointing season for the Black Shirts. The good news is that a lot of guys got experience which means they should be better next season. Rome and Randle should be ready to go in 2012, but it still looks like there's potential for depth issues.
Bill: You hate to see guys get hurt, especially star defensive tackles who make the cover of Sports Illustrated. Although Jared Crick never quite dominated double teams the way Suh did, at least he was still drawing them. When he went down, the entire defense changed because there wasn‘t anyone else as dangerous on the defensive line for other teams to worry about.
Crick's injury gave Chase Rome an opportunity to start a year earlier than planned, and I thought he played really well for a redshirt freshman. He is poised for a bright future. Add Todd Peat Jr. and this group has great depth and should be one that fans don't need to worry about. Of course, that's what we thought last August.
One last thing- can we all try our very hardest to stop expecting the DT's to measure up to Ndamukong Suh? I know it‘s hard, and we're all guilty...
Andy: As for the Suh comparisons, it may never happen. Georgia RB's have been trying to measure up to Herschel for close to 30 years now. One of the things that seemed apparent this season is that our DT's weren't necessarily built for run plugging at around 6'6" each. They were like huge power forwards who were made to rush the passer and swat stuff down at the line. Crick got hurt, Steinkuhler adjusted and Rome started flashing the promise that will make him an All-American.
As for the future, check the guys we've been recruiting - Rome, Guy, Peat, Williams and current year target, Vincent Valentine, all have pretty quick feet, but physically they are built to plug holes. With proper development, of course, they all sport frames that will not easily be moved off the line. Is this suggesting a gradual return to a more traditional 4-3 with attacks off the ends?
Last year, Bo appeared to leave the defense more in Carl's hands while designing the new offense with Beck (and if I'm spotting the influence of certain schemes, a certain AD with a background in power football, blocking schemes and option). This year, I look for Beck to be more on his own as Bo plays the same role with Papuchis in his 1st year. The defensive tackle position will be one of the strengths of the D this season despite the loss of Crick. Look for Peat to challenge Randle for the 3rd spot in the rotation.