Turn The Page Tuesday – KSU to Texas

There was some anxiety going into last Thursday night, particularly with how Nebraska stops the rushing attack of Kansas State led by big Daniel Thomas. Now the Huskers prepare to take on Texas, at home, and want to do what they failed to do last December: FINISH. Here is what I am thinking about looking back to Kansas State and looking ahead to Texas.

There are many words that could be used to describe this weekend's game between Nebraska and Texas. One word would be "anticipated". This match up, before the season, was touted as one of the season's best.

Another word for this weekend's game could be "revenge". Husker fans have been on the short end of the stick many times with Texas. While there is mutual respect between both teams and coaching staffs there is also a strong desire to beat the other team.

Still, the best word for this weekend's game might be "finish". The Big 12 Championship came down to a lot of little bad plays that cost Nebraska and that goes beyond the extra second being added on the clock so Texas could kick a field goal. The extra second didn't help, but if the Huskers go out and just execute or "finish" they win that game.

Still, before looking ahead we must look back to Thursday night's game against Kansas State in front of a national audience on ESPN:

Final Kansas State thoughts:

- The performance by Nebraska came at such a great time for many reasons. The first was the national audience. The second is that the Huskers are getting ready for the meat of their schedule with games against Texas, at Oklahoma State and against Missouri. The Huskers need to be riding an emotional high and stay on that high over the next three games.
- Hello Heisman Trophy talk for Taylor Martinez. Martinez had 15 rushes for 259 yards for four scores, with a long run of 80 yards and also went 5-for-7 for 128 yards and a score. Martinez really impressed me with his speed, particularly in about a 5-10 yard radius of the line of scrimmage where would be tacklers thought they had the angle only to see him run by.
- A better effort by the offensive line and I was happy to see a lot of the reserves getting a lot of playing time. That will pay off big time down the line. It's a long season. Injuries are bound to happen and Nebraska needs to get comfortable with some guys that can plug and play from the reserves into the top unit. Ricky Henry really stood out to me in this game.
- Lavonte David looks great in the dime. I love this package because of the athleticism. I also liked the many different run blitzes that Nebraska brought from the secondary. It's a way of keeping the runner, more than anything, going into the teeth of the defense with a slant on the line and containing the runner. More often than not though the runner was getting hit by the blitzer and that is a very good way to judge how successful the package was as a whole.
- Special teams coverage is going to need some tuning up. Texas brings speed to town at the returner spots and Nebraska needs to be able to give Texas the long field and can't spot them good field position.
- I thought both of the running backs looked very good. There was a fumble by Rex Burkhead, but other than that I thought that two of them looked good (combined 167 yards on 19 carries) and really keep defenses honest and they must be worried not only by Martinez carving them up, but also by Nebraska's running backs.
- Favorable performance by the defensive line with the dime behind them. I thought that Baker Steinkuhler played well and Cameron Meredith is really becoming a monster at defensive end. It was also good to see some lower unit guys get some time here. I was pretty impressed with what I saw from Thaddeus Randle.
- The secondary looked solid again which was led by Prince Amukamara who had six tackles and two pass breakups. Eric Hagg did his part and came down with the game's only interception. DeJon Gomes continues to impress and was the second leading tackler with 12 total stops and was one of four players to have a tackle for a loss. He also forced a fumble.
- All in all, it was an effort that you hoped to see following a less than impressive outing against South Dakota State and also a performance that convinced you that they were taking it week for week. The Huskers could have easily come out and played uninspired ball looking toward Texas. Instead, it's a season that is taken week by week. This team needs to be worried about the now and not next week, next month, the Big 12 title or the bowl game. Do that and this team could be/should be very, very good.

First Texas thoughts:

- Wow, where to start. This game is going to have a lot of emotion to it for Nebraska for a number of reasons. The first thing was the Big 12 Championship and more to the point how it ended that never seemed to sit right with Nebraska and Nebraska fans.
- Simply put, Husker fans don't like how the game ended. Was the play something that could be reviewed? It's not something that I had seen reviewed before in other games where a quarterback has tried to just get rid of the ball.
- I don't recall a play being called to run off some time from the clock where a quarterback just had to airmail it out of bounds. Not to mention a clock is never, ever 100% accurate when it comes to how quickly the operator gets the clock stopped. Then again, I can't recall a time where a play was ran like this so close to the end of a game.
- That being said, I am pretty sure that Texas is going to hear about only playing 60 minutes when they come to Lincoln this weekend. More than that, right or wrong, they should plan on getting some ribbing on this.
- Emotion is part of the game of football. This game has plenty playing into it already that I am hopeful that there aren't any other efforts that try to add to it. If the players for Nebraska can't get up for this game this weekend then there isn't a game that they could in my opinion. No need to pile on other efforts.
- I see this game as a game where the bad things of the game will determine the outcome. I am sure that an emphasis is being made this week to not turn the ball over, make mental mistakes and commit penalties. This game will be about discipline. Who can go out and execute without negative byproduct of doing so.
- You wonder what value Will Compton has in this game. Recall last year's game against Texas and Nebraska was really only operating out of the dime and that left Phillip Dillard on the field. Think back to KSU and now it's Lavonte David in the dime. It's a very aggressive defense, geared around stopping the pass that obviously is effective against the run (look what Nebraska did to Daniel Thomas). The one caveat might be if the opposition had a mobile quarterback. Garrett Gilbert can run, but he's not Colt McCoy. - On paper, this looks like a game that Nebraska should win handedly. Texas really doesn't have any type of running game. They average only 130 yards on the ground while Nebraska averages 338. There is an edge to Texas in the passing department, but I think the Huskers #1 rating in pass efficiency defense nullifies that to some extent. The Texas offensive game plan will be interesting for sure.
- The strategy for both teams should be about the same and that is to make the other team as one-dimensional as possible and try and take away the running attack. Texas on offense looks more like Nebraska last year than Texas teams of old. Still, it's Texas with two weeks to prepare so expect some new looks.
- The fact that this is Texas and that Texas typically has had Nebraska's number will be in the back of just about everyone's minds. Beyond last year's Big 12 Championship there was the game three years ago in Austin that Nebraska led going into the final quarter, 17-9, to end up losing 25-28. There is also the Terrence Nunn fumble after a completed pass from Zac Taylor that basically would have sealed a win in Lincoln four years ago. To a lesser degree there was a 234 yard rushing performance by Jamal Lord that ended with an interception in the north end zone and just short again, 27-24, back in 2002.
- These players in Lincoln likely aren't going to remember 2002, Ron Brown might, and a few will remember 2007. All of them will remember last season, even the true freshmen, and how things ended for Nebraska against Texas in the Big 12 Championship. Emotionally, that will be enough.
- There is also the big recruiting weekend for Nebraska. The Huskers will actually be hosting Aaron Green that is still considering both Texas and Nebraska. It's also a weekend that Nebraska is choosing to bring in a double-digit total number of recruits so they are anticipating a good showing on the field and already know the atmosphere will be electric.
- Bottom line, if the Huskers go out and execute and don't become their own worst enemy when it comes to turning the ball over, allowing big plays, break downs in special teams or commit a lot of penalties then the Huskers should come out Saturday as winners of one of the most highly anticipated games of the 2010 season (regardless of the fact that Texas has lost two games already).

These are the things running through my head on this Turn The Page Tuesday.

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