Nebraska Cornhuskers Football: 2015 Season Preview and Prediction

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Nov 1, 2014; Lincoln, NE, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers defender Maliek Collins (7) celebrates a blocked punt and fumble recovery against Purdue Boilermakers in the first half at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive Breakdown

You wonder with the firing of Bo Pelini if the Nebraska Cornhuskers have sacrificed defense for offense based on their coaching change, but upon remembering what Wisconsin always did to them, there was not much of a defense to sacrifice.

Even with the loss of Randy Gregory, the line should be solid with Vincent Valentine and Maliek Collins up front at tackle and Greg McMullen at end. Together, they improved Gregory’s draft stock far beyond what it should have been. There is enough depth on the line after them that the unit should actually be better than it was last year.

At linebacker, Josh Banderas is the only contributor from last year back, but Michael Rose-Ivey returns after missing last year due to a knee injury. Unfortunately, the top three contributors are gone. There are three other guys with experience on the line and two more freshmen, but overall, a significant drop-off has to be expected here.

The secondary is okay with Daniel Davy, Byerson Cockrell, and Joshua Kalu all back, but the big star is safety Nate Gerry, who is back for his junior year after five interceptions last year. There is enough star power here and depth that the unit could actually see some improvement.

The defense altogether will not be much different than it was last year, which is not a terrible thing for Riley in his first year on the job.

They should get some field position help with the return of punter Sam Foltz, who averaged more than 42 yards per punt last year and nailed 26 inside the 20-yard line.

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