Photo Credit: John Peterson

Bill Busch Ready for Defensive Coordinator Role, Wants to Make Things Simple

September 28, 2022

Bill Busch isn’t here for people saying that he’s been put in a tough spot.

There have been a lot of shifts for the team’s new defensive coordinator since he came to Nebraska. In 2021, he served as a defensive analyst for a 3-9 team. After the offseason firings of multiple assistant coaches, he moved into his role as special teams coordinator. While his unit didn’t feature any glaring problems, the team’s 1-2 record to open the season brought upon the firing of head coach Scott Frost. One week later, defensive coordinator Erik Chinander was let go, and interim head coach Mickey Joseph chose Bill Busch to fill the spot.

While his positions have gotten increasingly more prominent, it’s worth noting that this is his third job he’s held in the program in the span of a year. Now he has the task of trying to improve what currently stands as one of the worst defenses in college football.

Busch said at Wednesday’s press conference that it’s still what he signed up for.

“I don’t have to, I get to. It’s a great opportunity. So it’s not a tough spot,” Busch said. “Everybody’s ‘Ah, it’s a tough spot.’ Yeah, my ass, it’s not a tough spot. Just go out and coach, that’s what you signed up to do. So it’s not a big deal.”

He said he doesn’t like the situation that prompted into this role, but he’s ready to take it on regardless. Joseph felt comfortable with the move because the two coached together at LSU prior to coming to Nebraska and Busch has experience coaching defense. He was a defensive coordinator at Utah State and most of his assistant roles have come coaching defensive backs or safeties in particular. In his current role, Busch will also be a second defensive backs coach, focusing on safeties and nickels.

Busch said working with defensive backs coach Travis Fisher has been “outstanding.”

Overall, he said he was happy with how the team has responded given the struggles and changes so far this season. He said his prior familiarity with the team is a positive, having already worked with different positions in his special teams role.

“Everyone knows who I am,” he said. “Everybody knows, has been in the rooms with me, and they kind of know how I operate a little bit. So that helps. Someone’s not just coming in out of the blue to have to run things for us defensively.”

While Busch’s main role is defense, he still will play a part on the special teams end. Joey Connors is now special teams coordinator and will handle the unit’s day-to-day operations, which Busch has full trust in him to do, but the now-defensive coordinator will still be involved, particularly in game situations.

“I’m able to coach on the field, and not like coordinator role, but in my same coaching role,” Busch said. “So when we kick over to special teams, and I just click over into that mode, but coach Connors is able to handle everything as far as ‘Hey, this is what we’re doing depth chart-wise.’ He does handle the meeting, but when we’re getting in to punt I handle this phase, I help them with these phases for us right there.”

On defense, Busch wants to make things simple. He said the first thing the team worked on was how to get lined up quickly and play as simply as possible. That’s not always easy, given the number of different situations the defense will face in a game, but it’s the goal nonetheless. Communication will play a part in accomplishing that, according to Busch,

“Communication breeds confidence. So if we have the right communication, we know we’ve made the right call, our communication will breed confidence and we’ll build ourselves up from there.”

The challenge this weekend against Indiana will be dealing with tempo, as the Hoosiers are one of the top teams in the country in terms of plays run per game. Joseph mentioned yesterday that Busch will need to make sure that calls come in quickly. Along with that, the defensive coordinator said that tackling will need to be a focus. He said the pace shouldn’t overshadow that Indiana is also a physical team with “downhill, hard-nosed” running backs.

Saturday night will bring this defense’s first test with a new coordinator, but there’s still eight games left to go. Busch is confident the changes made and his relationship with Joseph will bring positive results as the year progresses.

“Coach Joseph has done a great job of making it fourth-and-one here, and we live fourth-and-one at LSU every day, so that helps us,” Busch said. “Everything’s very seamless and very natural, I know how he wants things done, I know the tempo he wants and if it’s not like that, then it’s not going to be cool breeze. It’s get it fixed.”

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