Nebraska vs. Northwestern in Dublin matchups to watch

Matchups to Watch vs. Northwestern

1. Mark Whipple (Offensive Coordinator) vs Jim O’Neil (Defensive Coordinator)

Nebraska’s new (but very veteran) Offensive Coordinator was described by his last coach (Pat Narduzzi, Pittsburgh) as being overly committed to passing the ball. Jim O’Neil’s NFL experience as a Defensive Coordinator with the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers showed a coach who was focused on stopping the passing game. Northwestern’s defense struggled mightily against the run in 2021 in O’Neil’s first year, and never was it as painful as the October 2nd blowout loss to Nebraska where his defense gave up 56 points, 7 rushing TDs, and 427 yards rushing (including an 8+ yard average/carry). The showing was so bad that Northwestern afterward changed their entire defensive scheme from a 4-2-5 to the more traditional 4-3-4 defense that Northwestern had been running for years under former DC, Mike Hankwitz. Northwestern’s defense did improve after the change, but then injuries set in for a group that was already thin, so it wasn’t clear what their ceiling would have been.

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