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What you'll find in today's news:

Can the Oregon Ducks continue high-flying ways against Nebraska? Huskers in the NFL.

BC's Breakdown: No, the Wolves did not destroy  the whole picnic

Nebraska football: Work to do after close win over Arkansas State, Huskers in the NFL

Mike Riley, Husker players address defensive struggles as Bob Diaco goes silent

Diaco hopefully understands media is conduit to loyal NU fan base 

Barfknecht: Nebraska defensive coordinator Bob Diaco must talk the talk instead of taking a walk

Observations from Nebraska's 43-36 win over Arkansas State    

Nebraska's front five are off to a 'decent start' — but still in line for improvement

Five things we learned in Arkansas State-Nebraska

Former Nebraska defensive coordinator Charlie McBride on Bob Diaco: ‘I think they’re going to get better’  

Media preoccupied with Diaco's lack of comment

Riley says Diaco to talk after games; the noise of Autzen; and an injury report

FIfth Quarter: Nebraska

Spielman: 'Now I Know Not to Point'

    

      

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Catch Adam Carriker at this link

http://www.omaha.com/huskers/carriker/

Ex-Nebraska defensive coordinator Charlie McBride says things will turn around for current coordinator Bob Diaco (above) ... eventually.

Former Nebraska defensive coordinator Charlie McBride on Bob Diaco: ‘I think they’re going to get better’ 

Charlie McBride cringed and groaned right along with you late Saturday night. And after sleeping on Nebraska’s 43-36 escape from Arkansas State in Week 1, the former Cornhuskers defensive coordinator promises that the light you see at the end of the tunnel isn’t an oncoming train.

“You know, I’ll tell you what, I think they’re going to get better,” McBride, the Huskers’ defensive guru from 1982 to 1999, told Land of 10 from his home in Michigan. “I was impressed with their aggressiveness. I mean, they were trying.

“Those guys in the secondary, I know they felt bad … those kids are competitive and they know what the fans expect of them and what the coaches do.”

My first impression [of Arkansas State] was, ‘I’ve been there before.’ “

— Former Nebraska defensive coordinator Charlie McBride on the debut of the Cornhuskers’ 3-4 defense

The Blackshirts wound up among the top 10 nationally in total defense 11 times during McBride’s 18 seasons as coordinator. But he remembers the units that didn’t reach elite status just as well — largely because he never heard the end of it from Big Red faithful who were accustomed to a high bar.

People wanted to fire me from Day 1,” said McBride, who retired in 2000 after 23 seasons on the staffs of Tom Osborne and Frank Solich. “All of a sudden, my name wasn’t Monte Kiffin. Monte was the homegrown guy.”

McBride was the guy who took the heat, especially after overseeing the last major scheme shift in program history before Bobby Diaco joined the program this year, transitioning to a 4-3 front as a base scheme in 1993. Growing pains are a natural part of the process, he said — and watching the Red Wolves pile up 32 first downs and 497 yards in Lincoln was all kinds of painful, even from afar.

“You start with a new system — first of all, people don’t understand that when you’ve got a new system, the seniors are freshmen,” McBride said of the debut for Diaco’s 3-man front. “Everybody’s not on the same page. You don’t have the same defense going [for years] where the older guys [know it].

“And they don’t have a lot of older guys. They have a lot of young kids. Like a lot of people say, between the first game and the second game is when you see a lot of improvement. They ran a lot of screens and they were missing some tackles, which happens.”

“[On film we found] that usually it turned out to be poor tackling and poor technique. It wasn’t the defense so much as it was just the fundamentals. And so that’s probably where they’re at a little bit right now. On television, you can’t see the secondary, but it did look like the corners were off a little bit.”

He’s got more than sympathy for Diaco, having walked a few miles in those headsets already. But if McBride could offer one bit of sage advice after Week 1, it would be for the new coordinator to make himself available and accountable to the media in the postgame — an opportunity Diaco declined.

For one thing, while Nebraska coaches don’t need friends in the press corps, they do need friends among the Huskers faithful. For another, McBride said, it provides a window to take the heat off the college kids who’ve already weathered, by that point, a pretty long night.

“My wife came in [Sunday] morning. She said after the game he kind of blew off the press,” McBride said. “And I don’t think that’s a good idea, especially when people don’t know you that well.

“I used to blame it on myself and that shut things down. I said, ‘Look, I screwed the game up. I made some bad calls that really hurt us,’ to take that pressure off the players. They’ve got a young secondary where those kids don’t need to hear any negative talk. [They need] more positive talk, to feel that they’re improving, and so that the next game you feel better, at least you’ve got something to lean on.”

Although McBride doesn’t imagine the film review was much fun, either. Arkansas State quarterback Justice Hansen played pass-and-catch at will for most of the contest, completing 46 of 68 throws for 415 yards and 3 scores.

It made McBride flash back to 1993, to the early days of the 4-3 look. The Huskers hosted a resurgent Kansas State side on Oct. 16 that season and surrendered 28 points and 489 yards through the air.

“My first impression [of Arkansas State] was, ‘I’ve been there before,’ ” McBride said with a chuckle. “We played K-State, it was just like the same game it was [Saturday] night … Geez, we were bad. The one game, you learned a lot. Plus they had a really good quarterback [Chad May] and things like that. They were doing that to everybody, but we won. And that happened [Saturday] night.

“The first thing with Nebraska fans, most of them are so loyal, it’s unbelievable. And then there’s that 5 percent that can’t handle it, and they want you fired or they want the secondary coach fired. It’s probably happened everywhere. And I was there 23 years and they were as good as people and as loyal a people as you have ever been around.”

McBride watches the Big Red from southern Michigan now, having set up shop there in the spring after a number of years in Arizona. He’s planning on coming to Omaha on Oct. 5 to be the target of a celebrity roast involving several former players, with proceeds going to the St. Bernard and St. Phillip Neri grade schools. A gaggle of former Huskers will be in town that weekend to honor the 20th anniversary of the 1997 national championship team.

“My players have been roasting me ever since I’ve been retired,” McBride laughed.

“No, they’ll make stuff up. [They’ll say] I was chewing Copenhagen and everyone says I was yelling and spitting in their face. That’s just baloney. But I’m sure I’ll hear some of that. It’s just something that magnifies things a little bit. I might have hit a few of them a little bit when I was screaming, but I never spit on a kid.”

 

Diaco hopefully understands media is conduit to loyal NU fan base

Things I know, and things I think I know:

I chatted Sunday with a rank-and-file Nebraska football fan who lives 90 minutes from Lincoln.

He attended his favorite college team's 43-36 win against Arkansas State Saturday night at Memorial Stadium. He traveled to Lincoln with his wife, paying a total of $150 for two tickets. They left for Lincoln at 3 p.m. Saturday and didn't arrive home until 1 a.m. Sunday, in part because the game lasted 3 hours, 52 minutes.

Tack on $25 for parking and $25 for food and it's a $200 day — easily.

Many Nebraska fans spend much more, and come from much farther away.

Being a college football fan is a financial investment. It's becoming an increasingly sizable time investment. And, of course, it's an emotional investment.

Nebraska fans are as loyal as they come, maintaining a sellout streak that stands at 355 games. Those fans deserved to hear from their defensive coordinator after the Huskers allowed 497 yards of total offense to the Red Wolves.

When first-year Nebraska defensive coordinator Bob Diaco breezed past media members after the game, declining to be interviewed, media folks couldn't have been surprised, considering Diaco's general reluctance to do interviews since his arrival on campus last January.

If Diaco needs to be convinced to do postgame interviews — in good times and bad — perhaps all that's required is reminding him that media serve as a conduit to fans. I'm guessing that notion has entered his mind previously. After all, he's been a head coach (at Connecticut), so he surely understands the big-picture nature of this topic.

And, yes, granting postgame interviews should be considered part of his job at Nebraska. He's the leader of the Blackshirts, a unit that in his own words carry "the burden of accountability and responsibility of defending the hopes and dreams of the team, the university and the state of Nebraska."

Sounds like a pretty important gig, huh?

I'm glad he mentioned accountability, because that word gets to the essence of this conversation. We always want accountability from leaders, right?

Nebraska fans have gotten used to accountability from defensive coordinators. Kevin Cosgrove presided over several humiliating defeats, but would face the media afterward. Same goes for Mark Banker. And John Papuchis. And Craig Bohl. Even Charlie McBride.

Maybe you're a Nebraska fan who couldn't care less whether Diaco ever does media interviews. That's fine. But many fans do care. They should care. If Diaco declines to answer questions following rugged outings, his players are left to be the spokesmen. Is that fair?

Husker offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf last season endured some unpleasant postgame interview sessions. But he always showed up, and never once lost his cool.

Following Saturday night's game, Langsdorf answered questions for about eight minutes. Diaco didn't have eight minutes to spare?

When the situation arises again Saturday at Oregon, Diaco hopefully will keep in mind Nebraska's intensely loyal fans.

* It's true that some college football programs don't require coordinators to do postgame interviews. Some head coaches don't allow it. But Nebraska isn't just any program — a theme we hear all the time from Husker coaches themselves.

Loyal fans help make Diaco's $825,000 annual salary possible.

* Former Nebraska secondary coach George Darlington (1973-2002) was on hand for Saturday's game. He still watches the program closely.

He's in the camp that says the switch from a 4-3 to 3-4 defense is an enormous challenge that will require patience. 

He also thinks the Huskers need to continue to upgrade talent.

"We have some good players on defense, and we have a few outstanding players," he said. "But we are not overloaded with talent. I'm not knocking the kids. I'm just stating fact."

And the beat goes on.

* The defense will improve as Nebraska continues to recruit defenders who specifically fit the scheme, George said.

For instance, he mentioned "outside linebackers who are big and can run like a scalded dog," he said.

See Wisconsin for examples.

* Speaking of outside linebackers, it's possible we're watching junior Luke Gifford, a Lincoln Southeast graduate, quickly evolve into one of Nebraska's top defenders. He ranks behind safety Joshua Kalu, corner Chris Jones (currently sidelined by injury) and … who else would you rank ahead of Gifford?

The 6-foot-3, 235-pounder recorded a team-best nine tackles in the opener.

* Late Saturday night, I came upon an ESPN radio interview with Turner Gill, the former Nebraska great whose Liberty squad upset Baylor.

He sounded like the Turner many of us remember. Humble. Gracious. Religious. 

By the way, his quarterback, Stephen Calvert, attempted 60 passes (completing 44) in the triumph.

An option wizard in college, Gill averaged 13 passes per game in 1983.

Hey, whatever it takes to move those chains. …

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.

Media preoccupied with Diaco's lack of comment

As the smoke continues to clear after what was by and large a terrifying outing against the Arkansas State Redwolves, one narrative seems to be leading the pack. That is one of the #Nebraska football’s defensive coordinator not talking to media after his team won the game. The rationale for why Bob Diaco should have been available after the game is rather obvious.

The Husker defense allowed 29 points (and another seven on a punt return) and almost 500 total yards of offense. Considering this was the first game under Diaco’s new 3-4 defense, the media was understandably curious as to what he had to say about what kind of improvements and corrections needed to be made.

While it would have been nice to see Diaco stand at the podium after the game and talk about those things, it appears as though the media wants to talk about what he didn’t say, more than they want to talk about what happened on Saturday night.

Why the Nebraska media has a point

After spending all summer seeing the Huskers offense talk about how good the defense has looked going up against them, there are some obvious questions as to why it looked so bad on Saturday night. The best person suited to answer those questions is, of course the defensive coordinator. The head coach, for his part, just made some comments about how he liked the direction of the defense.

That comment alone was enough to make people scratch their heads and wonder if they were seeing something the coaches weren’t. It’s why they wanted to see what the defensive coordinator had to say about the subject.

The media has also been burned by a defensive minded coach before. There were plenty of times Bo Pelini was nothing more than a world class jerk after a game. Diaco picking up and leaving, without a single comment seems like he’s acting quite a bit like Pelini in that regard.

Why the media needs to chill and just cover Nebraska football’s performance

A quick look at both the Omaha World Herald and the Lincoln Journal Stars that every major writer for both papers has made some nod towards Diaco not talking after the game. Some writers have come out and said it is the duty of the defensive coordinator to talk about what happened when things go so wrong.

Others have claimed they are simply looking out for the fans. The fact of the matter is that the media seems to be going after Diaco because he didn’t act as they expected. One has to wonder if this is a good approach to take with a coach who is new to the program and who has his work cut out for him already. #Bob Diaco #NCA

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