In his second year in the Big Ten, defensive coordinator Mark Banker said he has learned not to take any opponent for granted. He spoke with the media following Tuesday’s practice about the challenge Nebraska is up against with Northwestern, but also the Big Ten conference as a whole.
He doesn’t feel like Nebraska took opponents for granted in 2015 but having experience against some of the teams the Huskers will face is still beneficial. Part of that experience, according to Banker, is knowing an opponent’s personnel, which Nebraska and its coaching staff have a better understanding of now.
Banker also talked extensively on “effective tackling.” He defined that as finishing the tackle once a defender arrives at the point of contact.
“Our effective tackling is the highest it’s ever been and we had the least amount of yards after contact,” Banker said. “Problem with that is if you don’t contact someone and they run far, it doesn’t count.”
After Oregon, Banker said the Huskers allowed less than a yard after contact. That’s down from over two yards before, which is exactly what Banker wants to see. So, what’s different? Banker credits the team’s emphasis and focus on rugby-style tackling.
“It’s everything,” Banker said about it.
With that in mind, Banker has been leading tackling drills in practice and will continue doing so.
On to other news and notes from Tuesday’s practice:
>> Banker believes Ross Dzuris is the unsung hero of the Nebraska defense. Prior to Fresno State, ESPN/ABC analyst Kelly Stouffer asked who he should keep an eye on out of the entire Husker defense and Banker said Dzuris.
“This goes back to last year when we first started playing Ross,” Banker said. “He works very hard, he knows what he’s doing, he has really good technique, he has passion for the game. I think if you play hard with great effort and you’re in the right place, you’ve got a better than average chance of making great plays, and that is what he is doing for us right now.”
There’s another thing about Dzuris that Banker likes and it’s not what you’d expect.
“Right now I just saw a t-shirt, I think it comes from his mom, but I would really like it,” Banker said. “It has a helmet and it has a big mustache.”
>> Was Nebraska ready for Oregon’s two-point conversion attempts? Sometimes but not always, according to Banker. In fact, there were at least two where they definitely didn’t get lined up correctly. Cornerback Chris Jones agreed.
“I was just trying to get the guys attention because we weren’t lined up right,” Jones said.
>> Wide receiver Brandon Reilly practiced Tuesday. Alzono Moore was out.
>> How did Nebraska do against Northwestern last year? Not great, according to Banker.
“We looked like Moe, Larry and Curly, plus two,” Banker said.
>> Northwestern’s Ryan Field is natural grass, which the Huskers are doing their best to prepare for. To get ready, they practiced on the grass field at Ed Weir Stadium on Tuesday.
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.