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2008 Husker Defense: Looking for Linebackers (Hunter-Killers)

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We lost all our linebackers. All of them. Oh, except for Phillip Dillard, who had 37 tackles last season. He’ll be a starter at the middle linebacker position, you can bet on that. He can tackle.

The rest of the potential linebacking corps will be made up of Blake Lawrence, Latravis Washington, Tyler Wortman, Nick Covey and Austin Stafford. Between them they totaled 18 tackles in 2007. That’s, uh, not very many.

Between all of them (including Dilard) they have two starts, both Dillard’s.
Also amongst our potential starters are a converted senior running back (Cody Glenn) and a freshman recruit (Will Compton) that hasn’t been on campus yet.

Ouch.

I disagree with the guys at Big Red Network about the importance of linebackers. Linebackers are the hunter-killers of any defense.

The linebacker has changed quite a bit over the past few years, and 2008 will be no exception. No less than 10 Big 12 return starting quarterbacks, and they're playing in quick-bang offensive styles that leave little room for a guy who can't catch every player in the backfield.

Linebackers today have to do everything well. They must extra support against the run. They must do pass coverage. They must be fast and have a head for the game (think Bo Ruud), but most of all they must be versatile. They must have attitude.

They are the guys that will be chasing down the Big 12’s quarterbacks when they take off on the zone read. Hence, Hunter - Killers.

This is where Major Culbert fits into the equation. Is he a safety? Is he a linebacker? Does it make a difference as to what he's labeled? Culbert is one of those guys that's a big 'x' factor heading into the coming season. If he's on the field with Larry Asante and Ricky Thenarse playing safety, he'll be the guy the defense will be wondering about. Is he going to come up against the run? Is he capable of defending the pass? I'm glad we have him.

Three questions:

  • Do you think the linebacker unit will be okay in the fall?
  • Care to take a guess at the three guys that will be chosen as starters?
  • Sure tackler, Speed, Head for the Game - Pick Two And Tell Why