1 – Establish a running game – It's no secret that
First, you are going to figure
they will anticipate Cory Ross's ability to cut back, so they will be doing a
lot of stuff on the backside as far as pursuit, but also making sure they are
gap sound in their pursuit up the field. Expect
to make something|
happen is key in order for Nebraska
to win this game
Another issue will be in calling
plays in respect to their personnel. I can't remember a time where Cody Glenn
was on the field and they didn't run right up the gut. With Lucky, it's either
off-tackle stuff or him motioning out of the backfield to wide receiver. There
has to be some diversity here or just by who they put in,
Ross coming out of the backfield
as a wide receiver is a good thing for a couple of reasons. It first gives you
The score early on will dictate
just how much
Key player of the game: Cory Ross – Ross is going to have to make stuff up throughout this entire game. All season he's had to deal with gaps that weren't there, creases he's barely seen and holes on the outside that simply weren't there.
He's going to have to improvise,
maybe make an extra cut and actually go against some of the philosophies that
have made him so successful. For the early part of his career, much of the
criticism on Ross was that he was too east/west, not trying to get up field
enough. Chances are, there won't be a ton of opportunities straight up the
Protect the quarterback – While it
doesn't appear that
Considering the probable starting line up for the Huskers, you can expect a lot of that early pressure to come from the outside, based on freshmen Lydon Murtha and Matt Slauson starting. Honestly, it wouldn't matter who they have at tackle right now, because everyone has been susceptible to giving up the sacks, but just based on their experience, Murtha and Slauson will likely have targets on their chests.
Up the middle the Huskers haven't been strong all year. The interior of this offensive line hasn't been able to get a real push on anyone. That opens up the door not for just the tackles to try and get to the quarterback from the middle, but for linebackers as well, looking to shoot the gaps.
Murtha will have to have his best game
of his brief career.
Zac doesn't need a huge amount of
time, but he does need time.
You can't have a weakness here.
Linebacker Lamar Woodley is
Early on it would probably
Key player of the game: Lydon Murtha – If Murtha starts, he has Zac
With the blindside tackles, you
not only get the sack, but there's a good chance you get the forced fumble as
Turnvers, turnovers, turnovers – Don't have them and cause some. It's pretty simple and one of the most basic things about the game of football. If you don't turn the ball over, you have a chance to control the clock, hence control the game. If you cause turnovers, you create opportunities for the offense with possibly short fields, plus you take that invaluable momentum away from the other team.
The downside to this is the
secondary and how they have seemingly tried more for the strip than the actual
tackle. Yards after catch and contact will be crucial in this game, so players
should wrap up before trying to take the ball away from
Also, with the fact that the
linebacking corps is depleted and they have been the best in regard to grabbing
interceptions, players are going to have to step up. There's no way
needs to force a
Key player of the game: Daniel Bullocks – his brother led the country in interceptions two years ago and Daniel led the team in that category last year. He's got the instincts to take the ball away from the opponent, but the success hasn't materialized this year. His game will have to be near flawless today, so he not only has to be successful in stopping the deep routes, but in reading the quarterback and making plays on the ball.
Sacks – hurries – pressure – If you give Chad Henne the time, with the receivers he has, he'll tear you apart. He's very efficient and despite his age, he's not prone to a lot of mistakes. His touchdown to interception ratio on the year is nearly 3 to 1.
It's only logical to assume
The key here, which is really the key to stopping any pro-style offense, is getting in the face of the QB. You don't even have to sack the kid, but if you can force Henne out of the pocket, make him think that something is coming even when it's not, you have effectively interrupted the rhythm of their passing game.
There's no substitute for
pressure in the backfield. It disrupts both the running and passing games of the
offense. It's going to be a gamble at times,
Key player of the game: Adam Carriker – He's used to the double team and still leads the team in sacks. Carriker will have to be just as prolific today. Chances are he's going to see a lot of All-Big Ten tackle Jake Long and he is going to have to be solid not only against him, but solid enough that Michigan will feel the need to keep either a tight end back for blocking and in the best case scenario for Nebraska, even utilize either the fullback or funning back to chip him should he get into the backfield.
If they pay that much attention to him, it opens up a number of one-on-one situations in the middle and on the other side. That opens up the blitz even more and the entire strategy of pressuring the QB works that much better.
Carriker simply has to do what he does and it will help everyone across the board.
Stop Hart – With all of this closed
door secrecy on the status of Michael Hart, I have to think that even if he
doesn't start, he's ready to go. That means
|If Nebraska can stop Hart, they
greatly increase their |
chances of winning this game.
It's so key to stopping
He's shifty with good explosion and he sees the field very well. If there are gaps and creases, Hart will have a lot of success in exploiting them. He's just one of the best backs in the country when he's healthy, so the Huskers have to be gap sound and know their assignments to the outside as Hart can easily step outside of the tackles even if the play wasn't mean to go that way.
Make Hart a blocker not a runner. If there's enough pressure in the backfield, someone has to stay back to block. I can't say how good Hart is in that aspect, but against an Adam Carriker, Jay Moore, Barry Turner or even Corey McKeon, you have to feel good about that little battle, if you are a fan of the big red.
If there is one thing you don't
want is for
But it starts with Hart or if he
doesn't go, Kevin Grady. Stop them and you have limited
Key player(s) of the game: Le Kevin Smith and Titus Adams – In a game like this, neither Smith or Adams needs to be three-gap guys, getting a lot of pressure up the field. Early on, their main job is to bottle up the inside of the line, forcing any type of running game to the outside.
Sound, not spectacular – The cornerbacks are going to be tested like they haven't been tested all year. Whether they are running zone coverage or man, Zack Bowman and Cortney Grixby will have to be sound in what they do.
There's been a lot of criticism about their technique, never turning to face the ball, but it does give them a better chance of making a play on the receiver instead of the ball. What this unit can't do is have any breakdowns at the line. People have to know their assignments, because both Breaston and Avant are players that can hurt you if you give them even an inch of room.
Nobody will need them to do
anything out of the ordinary, because both cornerbacks have the athleticism to
say with any receiver
The thing is, this group is going
to get their catches and yards, especially if
Watch the fades that are prone to causing this unit to draw pass interference calls and never lose where you are at on the field. A lot of their success will have as much to do with them being in the right place at the right time as it will with them making great individual plays.
Key player of the game: Cortney Grixby – With the obvious disparity in
size, Grixby is going to get a lot of attention, either from Avant, Breaston or
a number of the other receivers
He has the athleticism to stay
with any of them, but
Grixby needs to use that to his advantage. In zone coverage, he has at least some opportunities to make plays on the ball and he'll hopefully have help over the top from the safeties. He can jump a mile and is as quick as they come. He'll need to use that to turn what seems an obvious disadvantage into an advantage for him.
|Grixby will have a target on his back the|
Just stay special – We have seen all year just how important special teams are. Punter Sam Koch getting a blackshirt tells you just how important he is to the defense. All this unit has to do is what it has done all year and that is stay consistent, take advantage of opportunities and perhaps even make a play here and there.
It's no secret as to what you need out of special teams in order for them to be a huge impact on the game. You have to create good field position in the return game, lengthen the field as much as possible with the kicking game, and when it comes to field goal, consistency is the key.
Everyone is fundamentally sound
enough in all of those areas, there doesn't need to be anymore emphasis on it
than there already is. It wouldn't hurt
Blocked kicks, forced fumbles, no penalties – all are ways that this unit makes a huge impact on the game. If everything else above is executed well, though, it's icing on the cake. This group can make plays and stop plays, which is what you really need.
Just stay being special.
Key player of the game:
Overall: Football isn't brain surgery in regard to what it takes to win. You have to be fundamentally sound, plus you have to take advantage of opportunities.
When you are facing a better
team, though, which I think
It won't be enough for