As Nebraska looks for one more win and bowl eligibility, it will lean on a defense that has been stout more often than not this season.
Coach Matt Rhule praised his group, which is in its first year trying to absorb the defensive scheme and put it into practice in a functional way on the field. To his eye, they’ve done quite nicely.
“I think our defensive linemen and linebackers have done a nice job, either when we’re playing with movement, with pressure, or when we’re playing base,” Rhule said. “I think they’ve all done a nice job of making sure that they’re in our gaps.”
That might not seem like a big deal, but it is. Rhule explained why.
“When you are a movement-based defense like we are if one guy goes the wrong way, if one guy doesn’t finish a movement, it creates a seam,” he said. “So I think sometimes people talk a lot about the scheme, but as with anything it’s the execution of the scheme that matters.”
Nebraska has been on point this season, though. The team fields some very respectable rankings in the major statistical categories nationally.
The Cornhuskers boast the No. 3 rushing defense (79.6 yards per game allowed), the No. 17 total defense (306.9 yards per game allowed) and the No. 18 scoring defense (18.2 points per game allowed).
To Rhule, that’s all about executing the scheme.
“When coaches lose a lot of times they talk about execution,” he said. “When we win I like to brag on the execution, that’s really good execution up front by those guys. We’re able to play a lot of guys and then our secondary, our safeties, we have guys who tackle. We have safeties who come down and play linebacker. We have corners who tackle.”
The good news is things are going right to Rhule’s liking.
“I think all of it has worked really well together,” he said. “Guys take a lot of pride in that.”
Nebraska and Wisconsin are scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff on Saturday with a broadcast on NBC.