The alleged problem was something having to do with how much space Nebraska’s cornerbacks were giving the Illinois wide receivers. You’ll have to forgive me: A lot of the complaints from fans run together and are just white noise anymore. The way one individual said Mark Banker’s name made the Huskers’ defensive coordinator seem to be the bane of the Blackshirts’ existence.
Unfortunately for that person and those like him, that’s far from the truth.
Banker’s defense currently ranks 30th nationally in total defense and 18th in scoring defense. It has held five opponents to six points in the fourth quarter.
The very first thing that comes out of his detractors’ mouths — and Nebraska’s undefeated going into its bye week, so there needs to be something to complain about — is the notion that the Huskers haven’t played any worthwhile teams with Banker in his position.
After Oregon lost again this past weekend, this time to Washington State, it appears that the third win of the Big Red’s season is losing some luster. For the purpose of this argument, you have to take into account that the Ducks are still ranked 16th in total offense. Brady Hoke’s abomination of a defense is putting Oregon in holes that even a running back like Royce Freeman can’t help his team recover from.
Alright, the first five opponents Nebraska has put away aren’t demigods of college football. Who cares? Look at the severe change in personnel from last year.
Remember when the Blackshirts boasted five more defensive tackles than the unit has now (two of which are in the NFL)? One of the current starters inside is a former defensive end. How about taking into account that a converted tight end is one of the best rush ends available? One of the top backups on the outside (Alex Davis) is talented, but he’s playing his third year of football ever.
The Huskers are experiencing trouble against rushing attacks because they lack size and experience. What has been accomplished is squeezing the most juice out of the orange.
Remember when quarterbacks were having Heisman-like performances against Nebraska’s secondary in 2015 on a weekly basis?
Nebraska’s pass defense ranks 31st overall and has one less interception than it had all of last season. This team gave up 1,769 passing yards (a 359-yard average) over its first five games one year ago.
So far in 2016, the opposition has thrown for 794 fewer yards for three touchdowns instead of nine.
Only delusion and spite can affirm the idea that Banker’s return to individual work (with his safeties and tweaked schemes) hasn’t improved the overall product.
Something I personally enjoy about Banker is that he can raise his hand when something goes amiss. This past weekend versus Illinois, the Illini scored on a 31-yard run by Kendrick Foster in the second half which tied the game. Less than a minute into his postgame press conference, Banker was quick to smack himself on the wrist.
“I made a terrible call on the run that they scored on and then from there we started adjusting to their 20 personnel package and it showed up in the second half.”
Despite that letdown, the Huskers held Illinois to 2-of-9 on third down and 270 total yards, eventually securing a 31-16 win.
It’s easy to look back now and make attempts to trash Nebraska’s schedule after the fact, but there’s a chance that any squad can knock another off on any given week. There are plenty of teams in the Big Ten alone that can attest to that.
In the meantime, Banker’s done his job by keeping teams out of the end zone when it’s counted.
Complain all you like, there’s no better record than undefeated.