This week Minnesota plays Nebraska and I went to the man that knows everything inside and out in the program by talking to the publisher of Big Red Report, Josh Harvey. In this Q&A we find out how the offense is faring this season, what players to watch in the game, keys to the game and much more.
1. How is the Nebraska offense doing so far this year and what are the chances of Taylor Martinez playing this week?
"If you would ask most Nebraska fans, I think they would be disappointed by the team's offensive consistency at this point, but really if you look at the numbers, they are probably right about where I thought they would be. Martinez will likely play this week, but to what extent remains to be seen. I could see it being a two-quarterback system, to ease him back into things."
2. I know there has been problems with the defense in previous years, so how is the defense feeling after shutting out Purdue?
"The defense started off really rough this season, but it was probably to be expected because of the youth that is playing. Each week they are getting better and have put together solid performances in their last two games against Illinois and the Boilermakers. Their speed and athleticism is probably the biggest difference than in previous years. I would say there is a quiet confidence at this point."
3. Who has really emerged for Nebraska that many fans didn't expect much from?
"I don't know if fans didn't expect much from him, but cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste has been better than advertised. He already has four interceptions and become a guy who can cover any receiver in the Big Ten. A former wide receiver, he's putting together an All-Big type of year."
4. Give us a player on both sides of the ball that Minnesota needs to know about.
"On offense, it's definitely running back Ameer Abdullah. He's averaging 19 carries a game and 7.1 yards per carry. He can put Nebraska in the red zone pretty easily and pretty quickly. On defense, I already mentioned Stanley Jean-Baptise and Randy Gregory, so David Santos is probably the next guy that needs to be mentioned. The sophomore linebacker is really coming on at the MIKE linebacker spot and will be crucial in stopping the Minnesota running attack."
5. What are your keys to the game and what is your prediction?
"For Nebraska they need to force Minnesota into some third and longs. This will happen by slowing down their running attack. If Nebraska can do this, defensive end Randy Gregory has become one of the best pass rushers in the Big Ten and the Nebraska secondary has forced 11 interceptions."