Chicago — It’s not even been two years, but Scott Frost has Nebraska back in the national spotlight.

Depending on the media outlet, the Huskers are predicted to do anything from win the B1G West to earn a spot in the College Football Playoff. They’re almost universally a preseason top 25 team.

Most of those expectations come because of Frost’s high-powered and highly successful offensive scheme, led by Adrian Martinez. The second-year Huskers head coach even admitted that a lot of Nebraska’s success in 2019 leans heavily on the arm of the sophomore quarterback.

“We’re going to go probably as far as he can take us this year,” Frost said of Martinez during B1G Media Days.

Over the last six months, Nebraska’s offense has been the focus. The defense has been an afterthought. A unit that struggled to stop nearly everyone it played last year has been absent from a lot of the offseason conversations.

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Senior linebacker Mohamed Barry doesn’t think that will be the case by the end of the season. While it’s Martinez and the offense that catches most of the spotlight, the Huskers’ leading tackler says the defense plans on re-establishing itself.

“This program is made off the name ‘Blackshirts.’ It will always be about defense here, first and foremost,” Barry said at B1G Media Days. “I love Coach Frost and that our offense is so great, and they will continue to be great. But we will be a well-rounded team. Don’t think it’s just an offensive school. I would never want anyone to think that, because this is a Blackshirt school, a Blackshirt team.

“We underachieved the last several years and everyone knows it. This is Nebraska. The fanbase here is used to winning championships. I know it’s a drought right now. We are ready to turn it all the way around, not in talk, in action in how we play week in and week out.”

Nebraska was near the bottom of the B1G defensively last season, ranking 12th in total defense (433.5 yards) and scoring defense (31.3 points). Those aren’t exactly the kind of numbers folks in Lincoln associate with a Blackshirt defense.

Two big issues with the Huskers last season were their inabilities to stop the run and get consistent pressure on the quarterback. Nebraska gave up over 195 yards per game on the ground and registered 25 sacks — though seven came in the season opener against Colorado. If Nebraska has any shot to win the B1G West, improvement in those areas is a must. Fixing the run defense is the especially important task.

“Stop the run. Stop the run,” Barry said, talking about what’s most important for the Huskers. “It’s a man’s game when you talk about the run game in the B1G. These teams in the B1G West, they know how to run the ball.

“We want to stop the run. Because if you stop the run, you win the B1G West.”

Nebraska’s run defense will certainly be tested in the fall. The Huskers face off against six B1G running backs who totaled over 1,000 yards last season. Three of those players — Reggie Corbin (Illinois), Anthony McFarland (Maryland) and Jonathan Taylor (Wisconsin) — averaged more than 7.0 yards per carry.

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Having An experienced defensive line that features names like Ben Stille, Khalil Davis, Carlos Davis and Darrion Daniels should aid in Nebraska’s run defense. Barry’s presence is an asset as well, following a season in which he totaled 112 tackles and 10 stops for loss.

For as much attention as the offense is receiving, the defense may have the more important role at Nebraska. Everybody expects the Huskers to light up the scoreboard, but that only goes so far if they can’t keep opponents out of the end zone.

Barry wants a program known historically for hard-nosed defense to regain that persona. The senior linebacker could talk all day about Nebraska setting a new standard defensively, but he knows that words only go so far.

“We want to be in Indianapolis. We want to win that game. I believe in my teammates, I believe in my coaches and that’s why I’m so confident,” Barry said. “I think we’re ready, but it’s up to us to prove that.”