Is Nebraska’s Defensive Line Deep?
Bo Pelini is often one to put on a positive brave face when injuries occur. Then again, when you review the comments made after the season-ending injury to Kevin Williams, you can't help but wonder. Is (or was) the defensive line for Nebraska truly deep?
It seems like inevitably that whatever positions you least want to see injuries or departures is where they happen. That's also because the list often isn't short. If you listed all of the players and positions where you think the team could be diminished by injury, it's just about all of them.
The defensive tackle position feels a bit like starting pitching in baseball. It's vital and you can never have too much of it. When Baker Steinkuhler exited last season, that's when things got really ugly on defense. And the way Nebraska addressed his absence was by moving over a starting defensive end - not a move that screams "depth".
We know Thad Randle was likely to earn a starting spot. If Kevin Williams wasn't the favorite to start next to him, you might not know it based on his spot on the depth chart last year. It is fair to point out that before his injury there was a fair amount of buzz about the potential of Vincent Valentine and the first impression made by Maliek Collins. Aaron Curry seemed sure to be contributor as either a starter or two-deep player. Walk-ons can be overlooked but Brodrick Nickens at least has the size that's hard to dismiss. The fact that a veteran four-star prospect like Jay Guy doesn't get more attention, could be an indication that there is (or was prior to the Williams injuiry) depth at the position. You could also look at the ends and see more options. If Greg McMullen is really 285 lbs., he's big enough to be serviceable on the inside.
The proof will be in the pudding. If the defensive line plays well for 13 or 14 games, then Pelini will prove accurate in his assessment of the line's depth. If not, it might come off as positive spin in hindsight. Let's just say that there are a number of Husker fans who don't take it as seemingly lightly as Pelini did. It is heartbreaking for Williams to go through, as the coach said. Let's just hope it's not devastating for the team as well.