There was one position coming into this season besides quarterback that the Cornhuskers could not afford to lose anyone at, linebacker.
The unit had already seen Josh Banderas and Dedric Young miss time with injury but now they have a problem that figures to last at least a month. Junior outside linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey will be sidelined with a groin injury for at least 4 weeks.
Mike Riley announced the news in his weekly press conference Monday and had this to say about the injury:
“Well, I’m disappointed in that, just because I was excited about (linebackers Josh Banderas, Dedrick Young and Rose-Ivey) getting healthy and getting to play together as a group that we would term “the starters,” which I guess has been one time now. We haven’t had that, but in the meantime, what we do in nickel, and the fact that, hopefully, Josh Banderas gets really healthy and feeling good, we play two regular linebackers in our nickel defense, so I think we’ll be all right there with Dedrick and Josh, for instance, that would be playing. I think we’re strengthened by the fact that Luke Gifford has played a lot of football for us, and Marcus Newby played a lot in the game before, so guys have gotten experience playing, and that helps us a little bit. It’s just too bad that trio (Banderas, Young and Rose-Ivey) couldn’t stay together and play together for a bit, because I think that’s a good group, but these other guys will step in and play, and they’ve got experience.”
The only real silver lining here is that every available linebacker has seen playing time due to depth but there is no masking that this is a huge blow to the Huskers defense.