BRT breakfast leftovers: Matt Vrzal, Jay Foreman recount their paths to Nebraska, break down the 3-4 defense

Former Husker Jay Foreman and Matt Vrzal spoke in front of about 200 people at Thursday's Big Red Today breakfast.

Former Huskers Jay Foreman and Matt Vrzal were the featured speakers at Thursday's Big Red Today Breakfast. There they laid out their realistic expectations for this year's Nebraska team, commented on the roster's talent level, impact of assistant coaches and more.

Here are some more leftovers from their conversation:

» Foreman, the former NFL lineman, said he likes the 3-4 defense the Huskers showed in passing situations Saturday against Fresno State.

The Huskers have used mostly the 4-3 — with four linemen and three linebackers — since the early 1990s, and it was their standard look when Foreman helped them win national titles in 1995 and 1997. He said he learned the 3-4 in the NFL.

“I fell in love with it just because of the opportunities to make plays,” he said after the breakfast.

The Huskers are using the 3-4 as a changeup. Making it a standard look would require the right recruiting, Foreman said. You’d need stout, strong linemen, ends who can rush the passer and plenty of linebackers.

“You can play the run in the Big Ten in a 3-4 look,” he said, noting that Wisconsin does it. “You’ve got to get players willing to play it, because it’s a very, very physical defense. More than the 4-3. But you can do more out of that than the 4-3.”

» Foreman grew up a fan of Miami, the alma mater of his father, former All-Pro Minnesota Vikings running back Chuck Foreman. But then Jay started hearing weekly from NU assistant coach Dan Young. And then he got a home visit from Young and head coach Tom Osborne.

Osborne, he said, “is one of the best salesmen out there.”

“He sold my dad for an hour and a half. I just sat there,” Foreman told the breakfast audience. “He’s the starting pitcher, he’s the middle relief. And he’s definitely the closer. Coach Young didn’t say anything, either.”

» Vrzal had a different introduction to the program, arriving in 1992 as a walk-on lineman from Grand Island.

Going through freshman physicals, he met head trainer George Sullivan, who remembered that Vrzal’s dad, Terry, had also played for the Huskers.

“He said, ‘Bend over and grab your ankles,’ ” Vrzal recalled.

Vrzal wondered what was next. Sullivan explained that the player’s dad had scoliosis of the spine, which could put him one hit away from paralysis.

“So I had to assume the position,” he said.

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