All year round, former Husker and NFL veteran Adam Carriker is taking the pulse of Husker Nation. In the "Carriker Chronicles" video series, he breaks down the latest NU news, upcoming opponents, player updates and recruiting information, and he offers his insight into the X's and O's and more.
On Wednesday's episode, Adam Carriker talks to former Husker defensive coordinator and current LSU defensive analyst, Kevin Cosgrove, about his time with Nebraska, what it took to for him to succeed in the Big Ten at Wisconsin, preparing for a national championship and more.
Check out a full transcript below:
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Here's a transcript of today's show:
Adam Carriker: Welcome to the Carriker Chronicles, the people’s show, where we’re checking the pulse of Husker Nation, brought to you by Nebraska Spine Hospital. Today, I am joined by former Nebraska defensive coordinator, Kevin Cosgrove. He is the former Wisconsin DC, the former New Mexico DC as well. He’s currently with LSU, who as we all know, will be playing for the national championship in about six days. He’s the defensive analyst for the Tigers. How are you doing, Coach Cosgrove?
Kevin Cosgrove: I’m doing great. Sure great to visit with you.
Adam Carriker: Yeah, it’s been a while since we’ve chatted. You’re down there with LSU getting ready to play for the national championship. So, defensive analyst... explain to everyone at home exactly what that means?
Kevin Cosgrove: Well, we have a couple different guys who are responsible for certain things. My basic responsibility is to prepare for the game ahead. I have various responsibilities as far as breakdowns for the game ahead. Film is always broken down by many guys. I look at all the cut ups and put together the charts for the run game, short yardage, goal-line areas, and any additional things they may do; fly sweeps, formations to the boundary, any tendencies they may have, I present them to the defensive staff.
Adam Carriker: Without giving away too much, what makes Clemson successful, as they go for back-to-back national championships and 30 wins in a row?
Kevin Cosgrove: One, they’re a very talented team. It all starts with their quarterback. He has a very unique ability to throw the football with tremendous accuracy and touch. He’s a big, long, athletic quarterback who can run very well. So not only do you have to defend his arm, you have to defend his feet in the run game. At any time, he can pull it down and get some big yardage as we saw against Ohio State. That creates problems along with their big receivers on the outside. They have an outstanding running back as we’ve seen. They have a complete offense. We definitely have our work cut out for us. If you try to stop one thing, they’re going to hit you on another thing. You have to have good balance and change ups, and be able to execute to the best of your availability.
Adam Carriker: Now, the Carriker Chronicles is 90-95% Husker Football. That’s what we talk about here. So talk to me about the RPO — the run/ pass option game, because that’s what Nebraska does. That’s what Clemson does. Trevor Lawrence is a little bit more of a pass-first type guy. But what do you see out of their RPO game, because I’m sure Husker fans will relate that to what they’re doing now.
Kevin Cosgrove: It all starts with the run game and run blocking. If a receiver is not being challenged, they have the option to throw it to him on a quick route. So if you’re defending the run, they have the option to throw the ball to the outside receiver. It could be to the single receiver side, the two receiver side, they have different variables for how they want to execute it.
Adam Carriker: When you coached at Nebraska in 2005, we led the nation with 50 sacks. Those were my last couple years, and I remember watching Nebraska my first couple years in the league, and the defense looked different and the results looked a little different too. What were some of the differences that occurred there?
Kevin Cosgrove: We didn’t change a lot from when we had you there. Naturally, you have to try to add a few more change ups throughout the years, but we had some very talented players when you were there. We were pretty good, defensively. We were top ten in TFL’s the first three years there. We were able to execute and get after people pretty good. The last year we were there, we had to play some younger guys who just weren’t as quick as when we had veteran players like you there. Always a step slow and a step behind. We needed to develop them and you would hope that they would age quickly. Unfortunately, it didn’t go that way so we were in that situation. You know, you wish you could coach them all and they’d mature into what you think they could turn out to be. We had some pretty good players, when you look at how Suh developed, and Prince Amukamara, and Eric Haag, and those guys that were young guys when you left that we had to play. So, different circumstances and different times, but we had a lot of fun with you guys when we were there. You guys played hard, and it was a great place to be.
Adam Carriker: You coached at Nebraska when we were in the Big 12, then we went to the Big Ten. You were a defensive coordinator at Wisconsin and had a lot of success. Three Big Ten championships, three Rose Bowl wins, two over UCLA and one over Stanford. You coached with Barry Alvarez, who is also a Nebraska guy. Talk to me about what it takes to be successful in the Big Ten, winning the Big Ten championship, winning the Rose Bowl — the Big Ten has not had a lot of success in that game. How does a team like Nebraska, or any team find success in a tough Big Ten Conference?
Kevin Cosgrove: First of all, you have to look at population. When we were at Wisconsin in 1990, there weren’t a lot of great players coming out of Wisconsin. You had to really work hard to find guys who had the ability to play there and play at a high level. When we took over, they had won three games the previous three years. People don’t remember that. We get up there and build it up, and win the Big 10 Championship and the Rose Bowl. Then two more after that. Since then, Wisconsin has been in four and hasn’t been able to win one. We had a plan. We knew we could get big guys out of Wisconsin, and there was some skill there. But we had to expand our horizon to get more skill.
We went to places we had connections. Went down to St. Louis, and got a kid named Terrel Fletcher. He was a highly recruited kid, and we went in there and were recruiting against Ohio State, Pitt, Tennessee. We told him he could be the guy here and make a name for himself, and he did. So you get one guy like that, and as the years went on, we got guys like Ron Dayne, Wendel Bryant from St. Louis. Impact guys who were first round draft choices. Then Wisconsin football started to get better. There’s enough big linemen there, where you don’t need to go elsewhere for your linemen.
Nebraska is probably in a similar situation right now where they have to get every good player in the state for sure, and as many as you can from the surrounding areas. The kids who have always been Huskers will be loyal to the program, no matter what the situation is. Then you have to go outside and get some skill. People may want you to have all home grown guys, but that’s just not the way it is. The Big Ten is a little different than the Big 12. We just played Oklahoma in the playoff, and the type of offenses they see are pretty similar to the types we see. Theirs is pretty spread open, but they still run the quarterback as we’re going to see this week. The speed of the game is different, particularly here in the Southeast Conference. Moreso than I can remember in the Big Ten, though it’s been a while.
Adam Carriker: A couple more questions then we’ll wrap this up. What makes Joe Burrow so good? He’s breaking all these SEC passing records, and it’s kind of crazy. What makes him so good?
Kevin Cosgrove: He has tremendous abilities. He has good arm strength, good touch, a great release. He has all the skills. He’s athletic, he can run. He has tremendous leadership abilities. He makes everyone play better. He always gets them in the right play. We have tremendous coaches here too, you have to look at that. Any good school I’ve been around has had tremendous coaches, especially the guy at the top here, Coach (Ed) Orgeron. Joe absorbs everything. You can go back to when he was a kid, he’s been around football his whole life. He has all the skills to be a great quarterback, he’s the best one I’ve been around.
Adam Carriker: Last question. So, I didn’t spend my entire career with you. I spent my last two years with you and my first two with Coach Solich, but we did spend some time together. So, if you’d like to, I will give you the floor to share a story about me that you think the fans would enjoy, whether it’s a funny one, at my expense, I don’t really care. Anything the fans might find interesting.
Kevin Cosgrove: One, you were a tremendous competitor, Adam. You were a pretty serious guy, so I can’t think of a lot of fun things. You were fun to coach because you played the way you’re supposed to play the game. You had tremendous heart, and your attitude was outstanding. It showed in you being a first-round draft choice. That doesn’t just happen. That means you have the size, the strength, the ability. I remember when the pro guys were coming to talk to me about you, there wasn’t one negative thing I could say about you. And more. You’re a good person. When you look at you now with your family, and how you take care of them, it’s tremendous. I was blessed to be able to coach a guy like you. My wife is on Facebook, I’m not, so she keeps me informed about all my ex-players, how they’re doing and what they’re doing. I stay connected through her. We’ve stayed connected for a long time, and it was a pleasure to coach you.
Adam Carriker: Well I sure appreciate it. I thought you were going to bring up the back pack. Do you remember the back pack I wore and you’d give me crap all the time?
Kevin Cosgrove: Oh yeah, you looked like a boy scout!
Adam Carriker: Yeah, you always called me the boy scout.
Kevin Cosgrove: You had those khaki shorts, and that backpack. Oh my gosh, that’s right! I remember that now. I’m sure you remember more things than I do. I’ve been around a long time and around a lot of guys. But yeah, I remember. Here’s this great big guy, first round draft choice, all conference, led the nation in sacks, and you walked around looking like a ten-year-old. Backpack on, and your shorts, you looked like a cub scout. I remember that clearly, now that you bring it up. God bless ya.
Adam Carriker: Haha, I appreciate it, I thought you were going to bring that up. Good luck on Monday, as you guys get ready to play Clemson in the national championship.
Kevin Cosgrove: Thanks, Adam, good talking to ya, buddy.
Adam Carriker: Alright, until next time, Husker Nation, Go Big Red and always remember…
Kevin Cosgrove: Throw the bones!
Thanks again to the Nebraska Spine Hospital. Ladies and gentlemen, when it’s your spine, you do not want to mess around. Experience matters. That’s why you can trust the experts at Nebraska Spine Hospital, the region's only spine specific hospital. They are the best at what they do.
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