The Blackshirts are coming, the Blackshirts are coming!
20,000 plus Nebraska fans are set to descend on Camp Randall Stadium this weekend. They’ll be the folks wearing black shirts with a skeleton and cross bones across their chests.
The idea is to be daunting, like how the nickname Blackshirts originated. It began back in 1965 with coach Bob Devaney. He nicknamed his defensive unit the Blackshirts. Current coach Bo Pelini took the Blackshirts moniker one step further, not awarding a black shirt until late in his first season. “Blackshirts are earned on the field,” Pelini said.
In essence, the Blackshirts represent respect for the defensive unit. However, the Huskers’ D hasn’t been that respectable through their first four games this season. In total, the Huskers defense has given up 1399 yards of offense (866 yards through the air), 75 first downs, and 88 points. They’ve brought down the quarterback six times.
Enter Russell Wilson and the Badgers. The rent-a-QB is on the Heisman watch list. He has a stout offensive line protecting him, a two-headed monster to hand the ball to, and one of the best wide receivers in the Big Ten. Through four games, Wisconsin is averaging 245 yards rushing and 286 yards passing. Right now the Badgers look like the seventh best team in the nation. The Huskers are just one spot behind them in both the AP and USA Today Polls. But, they don’t look like the eighth best team.
This Saturday that could change as the Huskers three senior Blackshirts: DT Jared Crick, LB Lavonte David, and CB Alfonzo Dennard are all expected to be healthy enough to play. That’s good news as the line has struggled putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, the linebackers have often been slow to the ball, and the secondary’s coverage has been spotty at best.
Coach Pelini said his club’s inaugural Big Ten game is “just the next game for us”, but in all honesty the Huskers have a lot to prove. “College GameDay” will be in the house. Saturday will be the first meeting between Nebraska and Wisconsin since 1974. The Blackshirts will be there. Whether they live up to their name is the question.