New Nebraska defensive coordinator Bob Diaco is installing a 3-4 defensive scheme for the Blackshirts' 2017 season.
Photo by Steve Woltmann Photography

Can Big Ten Roots + Husker Pride = Transformation?

By NU Athletic Communications

Buy Red/White Spring Game Tickets Here

'Our Nebraska' Event Features Mike Riley

New 3-4 Scheme Excites D-Coordinator

By Randy York, The N-Sider

Three new defensive coaches are wearing red polos this spring at Nebraska, and two have deep Iowa roots – defensive coordinator Bob Diaco and safeties coach Bob Elliott.

Both highly respected coaches marvel at Nebraska’s rich football tradition, and if you didn’t know their backgrounds, you would have walked away from Tuesday’s presser wondering how anyone could be more excited than two former Hawkeyes who landed in Lincoln at the same time.

Elliott was a safety at Iowa from 1972-75. Diaco was a two-time All-Big Ten linebacker for the Hawkeyes from 1992-95. Their two-decade difference in age turned out to be a daily double in NU’s resources and recruiting. Both intend to help fix the Blackshirts after Nebraska allowed 78 points in the Huskers’ last two games of the 2016 season.

The new staff makes the premise of this blog simple: Can Big Ten roots, combined with Husker pride, deliver a transformation for Nebraska, which has not won a conference football championship since 1999?

N-Sider Advice: Listen to Every Word that Spirited Diaco and Elliott Say

I urge Husker fans to listen to every word that Diaco and Elliott (pictured above) said Tuesday after a spirited session inside the Hawks Training Complex. Here are the video links:

Video: Coach Diaco Post Practice          Video: Coach Elliott, Post Practice

Mike Riley – the man who hired both former Hawkeyes, plus a new cornerbacks coach in Donte Williams – has embraced every aspect of Nebraska’s fabled tradition since the day he was hired. So have Diaco, Elliott and Williams, who also believe there is no place like Nebraska.

All three new defensive coaches are blending well with two young, inspired carryover assistants – linebackers coach Trent Bray and defensive line coach John Parrella.

Only time and talent can measure Nebraska’s search for excellence, but the Huskers’ new chemistry and camaraderie is creating strong vibes to elevate performance.

Diaco Says Elliott Brings an Encylopedia of Knowledge to Defensive System

Diaco equates the sheer presence of Elliott (pictured above) to an “encyclopedia of knowledge” in a system that can be as teachable as it is motivating, especially if Diaco is looking for the ultimate devil’s advocate.

“There’s a particular system that I’ve built, that I’ve worked in, that I’ve created,” Diaco said. “There are things that I’ve experienced through positive and negative. You learn more getting victimized than not, so I’ve learned some lessons they wouldn’t have to learn.”

Diaco has enough scar tissue to install a 3-4 scheme that requires communication and collaboration. “There’s a lot of brain power in that room and a lot of great thinkers," he said. "We’ve already created a lot of great ideas, even little ways to say things that are catchy.”

Elliott, the defensive staff’s elder statesman, is proud to be part of installing the scheme. “This is really a talented group of guys,” he said. “You’re not going to find a better defensive coaching staff in the country, in my opinion, and I’ve been everywhere you can be. I’ve been on all kinds of staffs, and I love this staff.”

Elliott Delivered for Fry, Snyder and Kelly and is Eager to Serve Mike Riley

With a background that includes successful defensive stints for Hayden Fry at Iowa, Bill Snyder at Kansas State and Brian Kelly at Notre Dame, Elliott has a unique way to define his age.

“I’m not putting any limits on my future,” he said. “The way I feel right now, I could go for a long time. I would like this to be the last place, but we’ll see...I’d like to be here for 10 years.”

Diaco and Elliott reuniting is a strategic move to blend innovative talent with senior management. Diaco “can lay down those principles and sketch out how we’re going to operate in a very precise manner,” Elliott said.

Diaco Could Go to 100 Places and Have Things Up, Running in a Heartbeat

“It’s very easy for a coach who’s committed,” Elliott said, pointing out that Diaco “can figure it out very fast. Bob Diaco could go 100 different places and have things up and running in a heartbeat because he’s so clear as a communicator and his principles are so easy to understand.”

Diaco shared three words that guide and permeate every aspect of his coaching – clarity of communication. “If people don’t know exactly what to do, they won’t cut it loose,” Diaco said, adding that his defensive staff has been “kicking the tires” on a number of different ideas.

With creativity, clarity of communication and a prioritized commitment to elevate the Blackshirts’ overall performance, Nebraska football fans can purchase Red/White Spring Game tickets here, so they can give a warm welcome to all three new defensive coaches. At the same time, they can get a meaningful glimpse of a new Husker era, offensively and defensively.

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