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October 29, 2012

Husker Buzz: Defenisve stock on the rise



With two bad defensive performances against Ohio State and UCLA statistically it's going to be hard for Nebraska to ever look pretty.

In those two losses alone, the Huskers gave up 1,151 yards and 99 total points. That's 42.3 percent of the total yards and 48.8 percent of the total points they've allowed all season.

Even with those two games statistically the improvements this defense has made the past few weeks are hard to ignore.

Since the Ohio State game NU has lowered their average rushing yards allowed per game from 189.2 to 176.2. The Huskers are now ranked fifth in the Big Ten in total defense at 336.4 yards per game and 26th nationally, compared to ninth in the Big Ten and 46th nationally two weeks ago.

Teams are only completing 47.5 percent of their passes against the Blackshirts, which is far and away the best of any team in the Big Ten. Some other numbers that stick out is NU is now ranked eighth and ninth nationally in pass defense and passing efficiency defense, compared to 15th and 28th two weeks ago in those same two categories.

Just for fun if you were to take away Nebraska's two losses and only averaged the yardage they've allowed in their six wins, the Huskers would rank fourth nationally in total defense behind Alabama, Florida State and LSU at 256.7 yards per game. That's almost hard to believe, because NU's two losses really clouded people's view of this defense and their abilities.

With four games left against teams that don't run spread style no-huddle offenses or have mobile quarterbacks we should see those numbers get even better. Before you know it this defense could sneak its way into the top 20 nationally.

"A lot of teams try to attack us by spreading us out," senior linebacker Alonzo Whaley said. "There's not too many teams that try to attack us by packing it in and just try to power you. I think personally, it plays to our strengths as far as our defense goes."

When you look at Michigan State, Penn State and Iowa that's how all three teams will attack Bo Pelini's defense.

When you go back and look at Pelini's defensive history at Nebraska, it's hard to think of very many pro style attacks that have had much success against the Huskers - especially ones that don't have mobile quarterbacks.

"You game plan accordingly," Pelini said. "We'll be similar in some ways (schematically), but we'll be different than what you've seen in different weeks because obviously there are some different challenges the offense presents you."


Lacouture situation bizarre all the way around

Before the 2011 football season Christian Lacouture and his family moved from Odessa to College Station, Texas so they could all be together.

At that time Lacouture was a commit to Texas A&M and he and his family moved to College Station for his junior season to be closer to the Aggie program for the future.

"(My family was) going to (move to College Station) with me when I was graduating early," Lacouture told AggieYell.com in Sept. of 2011. "I wanted my younger sister who's a freshman at A&M Consolidated to stay in the same high school, that way she didn't have to bounce around. It would've been a lot harder on her."

After they moved former A&M coach Mike Sherman was fired and Lacouture reopened his recruiting process.

Lacouture surprised several people with his decision to commit to Nebraska over Michigan and LSU and he surprised even more people with his decision to move to Lincoln and play for Southwest for his senior season with future Husker linebacker Josh Banderas.

"We just talked about it and it was a family decision," Lacouture told HuskerOnline.com of his move to Lincoln. "My sister is two years younger than me and she's going into high school. My mom and my sister are up here already and it would've been four months to stay away from my family, which would've been very, very difficult because we are a very tight family. It just would've been difficult, so we just talked it over."

Three months after the Lacouture family moved to Lincoln and bought a house he's no longer a Husker commit. I've seen and been around a lot of bizarre recruiting stories over the years, but this one ranks right up there.

To move around and attend three different high schools for your sophomore, junior and senior seasons and decommit from two schools located in the town of your new high school just doesn't add up.

I couldn't even imagine moving my whole family with me to a new city, buying a new house and making my sister attend different high schools each of the last two years only to decommit from both schools and start the process all over again.

I will say that Christian was always respectful in our dealings with him, but at the end of the day as one source close to the situation told me after this past week's events that this is probably a "snapshot" of what NU would've had to deal with over the next four years.

Husker nation wishes Lacouture the best, but he's probably better off somewhere else, because clearly this young man still doesn't know what he's looking for and I'm not sure if he's ever going to find it.

Looking ahead

If you are looking ahead at possible bowl spots for Nebraska, it's pretty much narrowed down to two right now for Nebraska.

If the Huskers win the Big Ten they would obviously go to the Rose Bowl and play either a Pac-12 team or a BCS at-large school like Notre Dame or Oklahoma.

If the Huskers don't win the Big Ten they are nearly a lock to get an invite to the Outback Bowl in Tampa against an SEC opponent. I don't see any way the Capital One Bowl takes the Big Red two years in a row and I don't see any way the Outback passes on the Huskers considering both Penn State and Ohio State can't play in a bowl game this year.

I personally would like to see a Nebraska vs. Notre Dame match-up in the Rose Bowl for several reasons, but mainly because I feel like this would be a great match-up for the Huskers. It should be a fun ride over the next month.

Around the state

***With Lacouture's decommitment I would like to see the Husker staff give Omaha North's Casey Sayles a hard look at an offer. In two games head-to-head against Lacouture I thought Sayles more than held his own.

***I would really like to see a Lincoln Southeast vs. Millard North state championship final in Class A. I'm sure Fred Petito still thinks about the controversial call that cost the Mustangs the 2002 state championship Millard North quarterback John McCardle's knee was called down on a fourth down run that he appeared to convert.

***Omaha North quarterback Zach Martin is keeping his options open right now, but one route he's considering is signing with Iowa Western. To me, that would be the smart way to go. Look at current IWCC quarterback Jake Waters. He played his high school ball at Council Bluffs St. Albert's and now ranks one of the top junior college quarterbacks in the country.

Three and out

***Who could forget Nebraska's last trip to East Lansing. It was Nick Saban's first game as a head coach at MSU, as the Husker rolled to a 50-10 victory. Legendary Husker coach Bob Devaney gave the team a pregame pep talk that day at Michigan State, where he was an assistant coach from 1953-56.

However, what that Michigan State game is probably best known for is it was the beginning of the end for Nebraska running back Lawrence Phillips who left East Lansing that day as the Heisman Trophy frontrunner only to get arrested for assaulting his ex-girlfriend later that night.

***How about this for a stat, even with running back Le'Veon Bell over 1,000 yards, the Spartans still rank last in the Big Ten in rushing at 131.2 yards per game.

***If you are looking for a good spot to hit in East Lansing, try Crunchy's. The bar is known for its good food, but their most famous trademark is their buckets of beer. At Crunchy's you can get draft beer served by the bucket for $29, which is the equivalency of 24 cans of beer per bucket.

Sean Callahan can be reached at sean@huskeronline.com and he can be heard each day at 6:50 am and 4:50 pm on Big Red Radio 1110 KFAB in Omaha during the football season. He can also be seen on KETV Channel 7 TV in Omaha during the fall and each week he appears on NET's Big Red Wrap Tuesday's at 7 pm.



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