Considering that the Nebraska Cornhuskers have gone through Secondary coaches as much as the Oakland Raiders go through Head Coaches, one would be amazed to realize that, for the most part, the Secondary has been pretty good. Granted, former Head Coach Bo Pelini was a man who helped run the DB group as much as whatever position coach was there, but even with the turnover in leadership, there was consistently good play from that group.
Enter another new coordinator, and a new Defensive Coordinator... and Head Coach.
While Mike Riley should come down to be a fine coach, this group will only work on how well new DC Mark Banker and Secondary coach Brian Stewart mesh with them. There's word that Nebraska will go away from their Cover 2 shell to more of a Quarters based coverage. While teams that run Quarters are just as good as a Cover 2 group (think Michigan State under Pat Narduzzi), new terminology along with new assignments will give the pass defenders some issues.
While the discussion of what the D will look like is for another time, lets go over personnel and see what Nebraska has to work with this spring. For your info, there are literally only 2 "Cornerbacks" listed on the roster. Consequently, there's only one "Safety" listed as well. I'll be taking a stab on who should be Corners today, while Safeties will be tomorrow.
Josh Mitchell - Honorable mention in the Big Ten, started all 13 games last year, 39 tackles, 1 int, 2 sacks.
Daniel Davie - 2 interceptions & 41 tackles. Was chewed out by Bo Pelini in quite possibly the play that turned the season.
Jonathan Rose - 18 tackles.
Byerson Cockrell - JUCO transfer, 29 tackles & 1 interception.
Charles Jackson - Did not play in a game due to a knee injury early on in camp.
Chris Jones - 6 tackles.
Boaz Joseph - 1 tackle.
Joshua Kalu - 27 tackles.
Anthony Ridder - Did not play in a game.
Zach Stovall - Did not play in a game.
Aaron Williams - January enrollee, will be in Spring Ball
Coming in August:
For the group that will probably be hit hardest over the loss of Bo Pelini, this is probably going to be the biggest group that is going to feel that loss. Add in the fact that Nebraska is going to be on their 5th DB coach in 7 seasons and the Huskers are going to be hard pressed to be 9th in FBS in Pass Efficiency Defense like they were last year.
Nebraska was 33rd in FBS in Pass Defense last year, and with the way the Big Ten is set up, the Huskers could very well be in that number again. However, big tests early vs. BYU and against a Miami team with a improving Brad Kaaya will be early indicators on who not only steps in for Mitchell, but who else will be on the other Corner, as well as Nickel.
Daniel Davie seemed to be a consistent contributor last year, while Keiron Williams was the darling of last season's Spring Game but didn't seem to make much of a contribution afterwards. Charles Jackson could be in the Safety mix if Leroy Alexander doesn't return to the field, but at the same time he'd be an ideal guy to have at nickel in my mind.
This will be one of the most watched spots in the Spring Game due to not only the question marks, but also the scheme. Once that game happens, we'll have a better idea of Banker and Stewart's ideas for this group.