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2023 Spring Nebraska Football Defensive Overview

They must be physical.

Indiana v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

Nebraska football has a new defensive coordinator. Tony White enters his 17th year of coaching. He brings the 3-3-5 defense to Nebraska, a defense we’ve never seen. Neither has Matt Rhule nor any of his coaches.

There has been some hullabaloo about whether or not the 3-3-5 can work in the Big Ten, against the physical running games the likes of Minnesota, Illinois and Iowa (well, sometimes).

The secondary will be the defense’s strength, with everyone returning from last season. Malcom Hartzog had the makings of a star, while Tommi Hill should be the most interesting guy to watch from this group.

The top three tacklers return - Luke Reimer, Myles Farmer, and Marques Buford.

There are tons of linebackers, including top tackler Luke Reimer. MJ Sherman and Chief Borders could be key players coming in through the transfer portal in that group.

The weakness of the defense is the line. Ty Robinson, Nash Nutmacher, Texas A&M transfer Elijah Jeudy, and Stephon Wynn should be key players there, but there just doesn’t seem to be enough depth at this position.

A notable comment by Matt Rhule recently - he wants to play 18-20 players on defense to build depth.


This is the key word for this defense this season. Nebraska’s defense has been manhandled over the past few seasons by the likes of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and even Northwestern.

Remember the last time we saw Northwestern? Remember how they ran the ball about 20 times in a row to seal the win in Ireland?

Forget the 3-3-5 scheme.

Can this coaching staff take roughly the same players and turn them into a physical defense?

That’s the question for the 2023 season for the defense.