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Nebraska Defensive Line Must Improve for 2008 To Be Successful

Just some more comments on what I saw that the spring game last weekend.

The defensive line did a decent job of standing their ground, so either they're better or the offensive line isn't near as powerful as we've been lead to expect. If you had to chose between the two, you'd be better off choosing the former, because if the 2008 defensive line doesn't play well, whatever else happens on defense won't matter much.

It's pretty obvious we'll go back to the 4-3 as a base defense. No more of this 3-3-5 or whatever it was that Kevin Cosgrove was trying to do last season to defend against the spread. The biggest part of that 4-3 defensive is the front four. If they can stand their ground (which they didn't do last season) and generate a pass rush when it's needed, then the defense will be fine. They won't be great, but they'll be okay.

It's easy to say the defensive line will be fine - it's spring. They're the same guys we had last season and they got shoved all over the field as if they didn't exist last season. When they weren't getting shoved around they took themselves right out of plays, i.e., a defensive end crashing inside into the backfield while a back was running to the outside - go back and watch the Missouri game if you've got the stomach for it and you'll see what I mean.

Everything that's come out of spring football has been positive. There were no serious injuries - we won't be missing anyone for the 2008 season. The coaches have been upbeat, as have the players. That's great news, certainly different than the news out of other programs, oh, like Michigan, where there seems to have been a never ending string of complaints about the coaching change.

I took a boatload of pictures mostly because I could. The vast majority of them aren't going to end up online, but I did it mostly for fun, and because I wanted to go back and look for patterns, things I didn't see last season.

One of those patterns is gang tackling - swarming to the ball, that thing that Bo Pelini talks about all the time. You've missed it, haven't you? I know I have.

Another thing you're missing is a defensive end (or two, remember that gang tackling theme) squishing the life out of a quarterback. Not a chance of that happening with the green jerseys on, but I don't doubt that we'll see it's return next season.

Is all this a good sign? Yes, but the defensive front four must be something they weren't last year - physically and mentally tough. We'll only know that when they take the field. Even they won't know it until then. Seems like a long ways away doesn't it?