Running the oh-so familiar option offense, when Nicholls State arrives in Lincoln, it will be with an offense very familiar to the fans of the home team.
The familiarity with this offense isn't quite as constant with the new staff versus those during the Osborne years. But the current Nebraska head coach knows what their keys will be and the big one, according to the coach, is junior fullback Broderick Cole.
"He's the key," head coach Bill Callahan said of Cole. "You've got to puncture the fullback, knock him down and force their game on the perimeter."
Of course, Callahan said that was easier said than done. "He's a stud. He's a physical guy, fast – everything is quick hitting. He can do it all," Callahan said of Cole. "But he is a load. He is an outstanding player."
While Nicholls State isn't expected to be a huge challenge for the Huskers, Nebraska will go into this game a little uncertain at one particular position. Following practice, coach Callahan said that senior center Kurt Mann would not play. "He's got a little bit of an infection – a virus that's been going around," he said. "We are going to give him a couple of days, back him down and see if he gets better."
Starting in place of the two-year starter will be junior Brett Byford. The Alabama native has participated in some games over his career at Nebraska, but this will be his first start of his career. Coach Callahan said that he felt confident about what Byford brought to the table, especially his longevity within the program. "He's got a lot of experience, because he's gotten a ton of reps," Callahan said. "He's a smart guy and he knows the offense well."
"It's just a matter of going out and executing under pressure."
Kurt Mann was a 24-game starter for the Huskers and Callahan is hopeful to have him back for USC.
Nebraska hit the field today in just helmet and shorts as they work on finalizing the plans for the run heavy Nicholls State. The offensive strategy is well known, but as the head coach said, their defensive philosophy isn't that big of a mystery either. "They play everything everyone else does," he said. "They are kind of multiple in the sense that they are an over/under front and they like to blitz."
"They've done an excellent job in executing their system. I had an opportunity to watch a playoff game they were in last year. That was a great football game and I thought they performed very well."
"So they give you a lot of things to prepare for in terms of their packages."
The only other changes that will take place on the depth chart for this weekend's game will be at two of the linebacker spots. With the recent loss of sophomore linebacker Phillip Dillard, junior Lance Brandenburgh has been moved to middle to back up Corey McKeon, and sophomore linebacker Clayton Sievers will back up Stewart Bradley at SAM.
The team will go through their traditional walk-through tomorrow and the game is set to kick off on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. central time.
For those making it in for the game, be advised that the current weather forecast calls for a 40% chance of rain.
Also, for those coming to the game, make sure to stop by P.O. Pears the morning of the game, for the Big Red Report Tailgate, where we will have food and beverages and featured this weekend will be the Dave Rimington Trophy, given annually to the best center in all of Division 1-A. The trophy will be on display at Pears, and fans will have an opportunity to have their pictures taken with the award.