Loss of Terry Joseph Will Not Be Crippling
With all due respect to a coach that's had some success at Nebraska, Terry Joseph's departure from Nebraska will not be debilitating. In fact, it might not even be noticeable except perhaps to those within the program. The pass defense statistics for Nebraska under his watch have been good, but under head coach Bo Pelini those statistics have always been good. Let's review.
Bo's History of Good Pass Defense
Texas A&M who hired away Nebraska secondary coach Terry Joseph is no doubt pleased with Nebraska's top ten passing defense a year ago and above average pass defense this season. Historically though, that's par for the course under Bo Pelini. In 2003 and 2009, Nebraska led the nation in pass efficiency defense. They were 3rd in 2010. Those are all seasons where Marvin Sanders coached the secondary under Bo. The 2011 unit took a step backward under Corey Raymond. Raymond's unit was still better statistically than the most recent squad under Terry Joseph.
Good By Design
Most of the pain associated with Bo's defenses has had to do with its performance in the rushing department rather in the passing game. That's not just some statistical fluke. Bo did most of his coaching prior to arriving at Nebraska in 2003 in the pros. Pro football is all about the passing game and Bo's teams seek to deprive teams of the big play in the passing game. He'd rather force teams to make several plays and several first downs to score rather than aggressively stuff the run and leave his secondary vulnerable over the top. You'll seldom see Pelini madder than when his team gives up a big pass play.
Front Four Versus Back Four
Beyond the emphasis on pass defense by Bo, how good the secondary looks usually has more to do with the pass rush than secondary play. It's no coincidence that the pass defense was so good in 2009 and 2010 compared to other years. Ndamukong Suh starred in 2009 and Jared Crick anchored the defensive line in 2010. When you can get pressure in the face of the quarterback while only rushing four guys, completing passes becomes extremely difficult.
If you watch the sack that Randy Gregory made in the Gator Bowl ask yourself what Hutson Mason could have done on that play. Gregory was there in two seconds. Give a quarterback four or five seconds without pressure by contrast and he'll pick you apart regardless of how good your secondary is. Next year's pass defense will probably have more to do with the front four than which secondary coach comes in to implement a tried and true defensive scheme against the pass.
Joseph has gotten some credit as a recruiter. Certainly, he's helped bring in some kids. But the jury's still out on his pledges. It's too soon to say whether those players will ultimately prove to be standouts. Who's to say his replacement won't do as well or better in that department?
There are plenty of things that Husker fans can worry about, should they choose to. The secondary, despite Joseph's departure and the mass graduations, shouldn't be one of them.