|'03 Blackshirts standard for Huskers|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 07 August 2008 22:57|
The players got the message.
``You just don't get turnovers,'' said nose tackle Ndamukong Suh. ``You have to force them.''
That fundamental defensive concept is getting renewed emphasis in the practices leading to the Aug. 30 opener against Western Michigan.
For good reason.
The Huskers recovered just three fumbles and generated just 11 turnovers last season, both school-record lows. Nebraska's minus-17 margin ranked 117th in the Bowl Subdivision.
First-year coach Bo Pelini was coordinator of the ball-hawking '03 Nebraska defense. That unit intercepted a nation-leading 32 passes, ranked second with 47 total turnovers and led the country with a plus-23 margin.
Marvin Sanders, the secondary coach in '03 and back in the same role now, said the Sunday night movie was a frame of reference for current defenders.
``What we did it for,'' Sanders said, ``was to show them what we mean when we talk about effort.''
The coaching staff has been imploring the defenders to attack the ball - strip it away from the carrier or go for interceptions.
``We're starting to get our hands on more footballs, and that's where it has to start,'' Sanders said. ``You have to get in position to make interceptions. You can preach it all you want. The other day we only picked one or two, but we got our hands on a lot more balls. We want to progress with that each day and see how many times we can get our hands on the ball.''
The Huskers had no takeaways in their last three games last season. After Zach Potter intercepted Colt McCoy in the fourth quarter against Texas, the defense went 257 snaps without recovering a fumble or picking off a pass.
At LSU, where Pelini was defensive coordinator last year, the Tigers took away the ball 36 times and were second nationally in turnover margin.
``A lot of getting turnovers is getting the right people at the right places at the right time and getting there with an attitude and a tremendous amount of effort,'' Pelini said. ``We don't talk about turnovers, we talk about takeaways - to have an attitude to go take the ball away from the offense.''
Safety Larry Asante said watching the '03 defense was motivating, and so were Pelini's parting words, though the coach wouldn't confirm what he said.
``He said we have more talent this year,'' Asante said, ``than we did in 2003.''