Taking care of the Vandels

At first glimpse the Nebraska out of conference schedule, besides Washington, looks a little light. Really, that is because people only take Idaho at name alone. Husker fans know better. They know one of the Idaho player's names by heart, but that's not the only reason why Nebraska fans are familiar with Idaho. Here is what I will be looking for on Saturday.

It's onto week two for Nebraska and while many would say that this is another tune up for Washington there is reason to not overlook Idaho. One of the big reasons why Nebraska doesn't want to overlook Idaho is because of their quarterback, North Platte (Nebr.) product Nathan Enderle.

Out of high school, Enderle was getting some Nebraska attention and if my memory serves me correctly he came to Nebraska and won the strongest arm competition that summer in the quarterback academy and later received a walk-on invitation. Enderle chose to take his talents elsewhere.

On some recent senior quarterback lists, Enderle was picked as a top five quarterback in the nation. Enderle is on the Davey O'Brien, Manning Award and Golen Arm Award watch lists and had the fifth best pass efficiency rating last year in the NCAA.

The Huskers are going to have to get pressure on Enderle after a week where they only recorded one sack against Western Kentucky. Nebraska's defense will be one of many things to keep an eye on Saturday.

Three Storylines:

1. Can Nebraska get pressure on Idaho? Typically it's the other way around in Lincoln. The defense takes the field and are in third or fourth game form and the offense is still coming along. However, last weekend Nebraska allowed 299 total yards to Western Kentucky while they put up 536 yards. There are some notable reasons while this happened. The first two are Sean Fisher and Will Compton. There also wasn't a lot of push by the defensive line which managed only one sack last week against Western Kentucky. Mike Iupati is no longer at Idaho, but look for a huge offensive line this weekend from Idaho including players like Sam Tupua (6-foot-3 and 375 pounds) and Tevita Halaholo (6-foot-5 and 342 pounds). Nebraska is going to have out work a huge offensive line on Saturday.

2. Can Taylor Martinez do it again? Martinez was the first redshirt or true freshman to start at quarterback in a season opener last weekend, but you couldn't tell that was his first collegiate game. People had heard about Taylor's speed, but Martinez showed very good discipline in the pocket and was efficient in the offense. Martinez finished with 127 yards rushing and three touchdowns on only seven rushing attempts last week and added a 9-of-15 passing effort for 136 yards. Martinez was cool under the pressure of his first college game and college start. If Martinez even comes close to these types of numbers this week it will be a success. If there is one knock on Martinez, and you really have to look for one, you might hope for better success in the two-minute offense when you saw Martinez rush some throws and take an ill-advised sack.

3. What will Nebraska do at linebacker? It's pretty clear that things are going to be week to week in Lincoln until Compton comes back from injury and takes back his starting job at MIKE along side LaVonte David. David was totally impressive in his debut when he led the team in 13 tackles including five solos. While Alonzo Whaley did have five tackles there were some obvious things wrong with the linebacker play that seems to point the finger back at Whaley a lot on Saturday night. The long run against the Nebraska defense, by the way Whaley was greeted on the sideline by the Nebraska coaches, appeared to be his fault. Also, if you re-watch the game you will see a lot of late alignment calls and checks coming from Whaley. This led to players like Jared Crick and Baker Steinkuhler getting into their stance late, if at all, and really nullifying them on a play. I wouldn't be surprised to see a lot of time from Eric Martin this week at MIKE and if he started it wouldn't be a shock.

Three players to watch:

1. Mike McNeill: McNeill went without a reception last weekend against WKU. There was at least one drop by McNeill that I saw, but he just wasn't targeted enough. Then again if the defense is going to give you Rex Burkhead every time through the middle like they did last weekend Nebraska is going to take that every time. Still, McNeill is important to this offense to keep it going, keep the chains moving and to help the quarterbacks get and find their rhythm. He's dependable and was open a lot on Saturday and just not targeted. Nebraska needs to find McNeill to take pressure off of the players downfield as well.

2. Jared Crick/Baker Steinkuhler: In a lot of conversations that I have had with people this past week the performance of the defensive line against WKU didn't make you forget about Ndamukong Suh. However, as I pointed out in #3 in my storylines I believe the problems at linebacker have everything to do with the total yards allowed to WKU and the fact that both Crick and Steinkuhler didn't have bigger days against WKU. The Huskers are going to need to hang their hats on these two this season because behind them there are still some guys cutting their teeth when it comes to playing experience with Terrence Moore and Thad Randle.

3. Cameron Meredith/Josh Williams: By the sound of it Meredith could be available this weekend if Nebraska needs him to some extent. However, the injury which Meredith sustained sounds a little more serious than just a stinger. Williams needs to get a lot of time this weekend against Idaho to get up to game speed and really prepare for situations like this when he would be called out of reserve duty and thrown into real playing time. The Huskers are really one deep at most positions on defense with the exception of in the secondary and they need to try to continue to develop players to shore up depth.

I am sure that the overwhelming sentiment for the game this Saturday by Husker fans and by people from Nebraska in general is that Nathan Enderle comes into Lincoln and plays well, but ultimately that Nebraska wins. Enderle is a great story to say the least for Nebraska and I find a bit of a comparison to Danny Woodhead for Nebraska with the irony being that they are from the same town.

That being said, I am sure that Enderle is going to have some emotions about this game that the rest of the Idaho team won't share. I am willing to bet that most of the Idaho fans in the stands will have ties to Enderle in some way. Remember though, he's coming to Lincoln to try and beat Nebraska.

Nebraska fans don't just know about Idaho because of Enderle though. If you think back to the Holiday Bowl the game being played before the Holiday Bowl started was between Bowling Green and Idaho. It was my first glimpse of Enderle and Idaho and it probably was one of the best endings to any game during the bowl season last year as Enderle led Idaho to a win. That's why on the surface Idaho is just that other team from Idaho with Boise State being the team, but Idaho is a very capable team.

I find this game intriguing because going into the WKU game I don't think that anyone was giving their offense a lot of credit because of a first year head coach and searching for an identity to some extent. That being said their offensive line did very, very well against a highly touted Nebraska defensive line that did have some distractions, isn't working with normal personnel at the linebacker position and was just in their first game of the season.

This is a game that is going to be fought up front though. Nebraska's defensive line will need to win the majority of the battles in front of them to win the way and that will not be easy. They might not have Mike Iupati on the line this year, but they have some big ol' boys there trying to become the next Mike Iupati. The majority thought of Idaho's offensive line are first year starters (four of them I believe) and Nebraska should get an advantage here.

I hope that Enderle does well, but I also hope that the Nebraska offense and defense take another step forward this weekend. I think that Nebraska could really put up some points this weekend and while I called for a shut out last weekend against WKU, which didn't happen, I will not be calling for one this week. Idaho is going to score folks, simple as that. Nebraska wins though. Give me the Huskers 49-21.


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