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An Open Letter Concerning Nebraska DC Mark Banker


To Whom It May Concern,

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If you’re reading this with extreme interest, I’ll assume you’re a Nebraska football fan or at least have a curiosity of the workings of the program.

It’s no secret that through four games, the Huskers’ pass defense has been — in a word — bad. However, should you have that complaint, I bring news from the west!

Well, north. North stadium. Mark Banker isn’t going anywhere for at least a year.

Now, take a moment to climb to the nearest tall point and scream as loud as you possibly can if this upsets you then come back and begin reading again.

Feel better now? Alright, well I can’t give you 100 percent peace of mind. What I can do is explain the situation and perhaps make you feel like you don’t need to clench your entire body when the opposition goes back to heave one deep.

Let’s address the hire. I don’t know why Mike Riley chose to hire Mark Banker. Honestly, I don’t really care. My best guess (and it is a guess) is that Banker gives Riley a sense of comfort in who will be controlling his defense. I also feel that he genuinely believes in what Banker can do given the proper athletes (healthy ones, too).

Now, let’s talk talent. Nebraska has the athletes to make Banker’s system work. The problem is the amount of experienced depth in the 2015 defensive gas tank is so low, the Big Red Machine would be screeching to a halt if that was its fuel.

The Huskers have had one game out of four thus far where their starting linebackers have all started the same game together.

Vincent Valentine, one of the key players up front, has a high ankle sprain. Defensive end (and Blackshirt) Greg McMullen hasn't been pulling his weight (figuratively or literally).

It seems like a simple problem. If McMullen can't do his best, why not just yank him and play someone else?

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That actually happened against Southern Miss. Freedom Akinmoladun took over for McMullen. Ross Dzurius then subbed for him who was already subbing for Jack Gangwish. The next day, he was awarded a Blackshirt, but thanks to the depth situation, McMullen's still needed.

When the front seven’s a patchwork group, outcry about secondary play is going to happen. Maybe because of who’s playing back there or coaching, a number of factors, but we have to look big picture. As of this writing, Nebraska’s defense is like your old security blanket from when you were a wee one.

Some parts are still as strong as when you were five, but as time has gone on, there are areas so worn you can almost see through them.

At full strength, I feel Banker’s defense can stop the pass enough that Nebraska has an excellent chance to win more often than it will lose. It can create three-and-outs consistently, it can cause turnovers and can help spell the offense.

I understand why the Kevin Cosgrove comparison comes up, but Banker’s no more Cosgrove than Bo Pelini was and Cosgrove had a far better run defense than Nebraska’s former head man.

The non-conference schedule was hard to stomach. There were two games that could’ve been flipped in Nebraska’s favor, but alas.

It’s easy to focus on the bad stuff, but what about the good? Tommy Armstrong’s development, Alonzo Moore and Jamal Turner getting back into the groove, Andy Janovich’s breakout day against Southern Miss? None of this is worth celebrating?

Must there be a “yeah, but…” during and immediately after these things?

Big Ten conference work begins next week and it looks like De’Mornay “Million Dollar Moves” Pierson-El may get some snaps in.

For now, let Banker work. All of four games have been played. Give the guy some time.

As for now, yay, No. 15, right!?


— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to follow Brandon on Twitter @eightlaces and Periscope (eightlaces), and like his Facebook page.