Nebraska Football: Bend But Don’t Break Meaningless Under Bob Diaco

Mike Riley recently tabbed Nebraska football‘s newest defensive coordinator after letting Mark Banker go and Husker fans are getting to know Bob Diaco as quickly as they can. One thing they absolutely don’t like is a term associated with him: Bend, but don’t break.

I’ve played the video games. Alabama’s been held to 50-some-odd yards on the ground and scored maybe 10 points before losing the national championship game. One of these is based in fantasy and the other in reality under Diaco.

His tenure as Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator had statistical numbers that aren’t overall impressive until you look at the ones that really matter. How are football games won and lost? What was Nebraska mocked for the most in its losses during the 2016 season? Points on the scoreboard.

The Fighting Irish’s rushing defense ranked Nos. 51 and 47 during Diaco’s first two years as defensive coordinator. However, teams only scored 20 points on Notre Dame in 2010 (23rd in the nation) and 21 in 2011 (24th).

What’s that old adage? You can’t win if you can’t score?

Once the Irish found their stride under Diaco’s system, even the areas that gave a little bit shored up. In 2012, Notre Dame only surrendered 105 yards on the ground per game (11th-best).

When it came down to brass tacks and whether or not teams could actually punch the ball in versus his defensive unit that year, the answer was usually no.

In fact, the only team that bettered the Irish’s pushback was the eventual national champion, Alabama. The Irish gave up 13 points per contest to the Tide’s 11.

Is it a sure thing that Diaco will be able to dial up something to rival what’s going on in Tuscaloosa? Absolutely not. However, it’s important to keep in mind that Nebraska may be looking at a defensive shift that can crush Big Ten offenses, especially the ones in its current division.

Look at it this way: suddenly, a large amount of pressure to bring in the best talent for a 3-4 front to work is on Trent Bray who just happens to be one of the superior recruiters on this staff.

Four and five-star linebackers will be talking to an individual that can lay out precisely how effective they can be in Diaco’s system, the defensive coordinator follows Bray on an in-home visit and there’s your close.

Defensive line coach John Parrella finds himself with less on his plate as now he focuses on a different brand of defensive end and nose guards.

Whether luck, lack of talent in the 500-mile radius or simply relationships not being properly cultivated, bringing in top tier 4-3 defensive ends has been difficult. It doesn’t help that Parrella hasn’t had the time to make many connections on that front just yet, either.

The 3-4 may give up some yardage here or there. However, considering the Big Ten is so reliant on its running games that if Nebraska can import the sort of quality talent that we’re seeing even in the 2017 class alone, a majority of teams will be forced to become one-dimensional.

Ultimately, Husker fans must ask themselves if they mind their team giving up a few yards in the meantime only to prevent points and thus generate wins. It may initially be frustrating, but the Stagg Championship Trophy isn’t awarded for how many rushing yards are gained in Indianapolis.

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