Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Defense Returns To Work For Rutgers Game After Resurgent Performance

October 04, 2022

Nebraska coaches implemented a 24-hour rule after a win. Celebrate it, then it’s back to work. Coaches especially stressed that week going into a short preparation week.

Interim defensive coordinator Bill Busch didn’t harp on it. When the defense returned to practice it returned ready. Just in time for “competition Tuesday.”

“We moved on pretty quick to the next phase of where we were,” Busch said after Tuesday’s practice. “Their spirit’s been great but, again, and it’s been different this week there’s no doubt about that, give these guys credit I told you guys it last week, these guys come in every time we never had to wind them up or walked out of meetings saying that was like old stuff. That’s how good of units they are.”

Busch credited the defense’s improvements in the Indiana game to multiple aspects. First, he estimated the defense had its collective cleat planted into the turf. He didn’t want to say every time so roughly 96 percent of the time. Admittedly, coming off a bye week provided the team a little more energy. They healed and their desire to prove their worth after two disastrous outings stewed an extra week.

Then there’s the actual schematic alterations Busch and Joseph implemented in the change. Joseph promoted Busch to the position because, as he said, he trusted Busch to implement the defense he wanted. That’s a high-energy, fast, pad-popping troop of 11 flowing to ball. The shift to that kind of defense started with communication.

“We always speak about communication breeds confidence,” Busch said. “We are so much on top of communication and we’ll talk things out.”

The team’s emphasis on those pillars do not change into this week. Players got an opportunity to prove their spots on the field and Busch said the team responded well to that challenge.

That’s how freshman Malcolm Hartzog started his first game against Indiana. He had a pass breakup and returned the blocked punt into the south end zone against the Hoosiers to claim Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors. Busch complimented the young cornerback, saying he came to Nebraska to play in a big game, go on the road and make a difference.

“Nothing’s too big for him,” the defensive coordinator said. “He likes to play football.”

Busch also complimented the defensive line, especially sophomore tackle Ty Robinson, who made four tackles, two for loss, against Indiana. The win hasn’t inflated ego in that group, adding they’ve returned to practice this week with fire.

The same could be said for the linebackers, who played an inspired game around Luke Reimers’ big interception on a hit.

Busch clarified that he’ll be on the field for Friday’s game against Rutgers. He liked being on the field against Indiana so other coaching personnel will be in the booth for this week’s game.

The Huskers are scheming in practice this week to face three different quarterbacks. Former Husker and Wahoo native Noah Vedral started against Ohio State and subbed off after the first drive. He suffered and injury in camp and did not appear all season. Evan Simon and Gavin Wimsatt, who’s suffering from a lingering foot injury, also played for the Scarlet Knights last week. Busch said all three are mobile and will test the defense’s discipline.

“They’re all really good players, they all can throw it, they all can run the ball,” Busch said. “Quarterback run game is always a huge concern because once the quarterback carries the ball they have 10 blockers, they got one more guy. Crunch the numbers on that one, you’re going to need all 11 to stop him.”

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