Notes and Quotes/ Nebraska vs. Kansas St

Nebraska controlled their own destiny going into the Kansas State game. With the Missouri loss they now control the Big 12 North. In a game filled with a stifling run defense, a persistent rushing offense, the Huskers broke streaks, set records and are on their way to potentially the biggest game of the year.

The Best Laid Plans

It was pretty obvious that Kansas State went into the Nebraska not planning on running a no-huddle attack out of the spread. They started with two straight rushes which went for no gain, which was then followed up by an incomplete pass by Josh Freeman on third and long.

The next possession Kansas State actually opened up with a pass, that also going complete, followed up by two runs, both of which weren't enough for a first down.

That was followed up by the single most successful run of the day, a 38 scamper off of a fake punt, which got K. State a first down at their own 47. They followed that up with two more Leon Patton rushes which netted two yards. And that was followed up by another incomplete pass by Freeman.

Does this sound like a trend?

It should, because it was. Kansas State only got 23 snaps in the first half, but the passes were often in long yardage situations and the runs were basically useless. If you take away that 38 yard gallop, K. State had 3 rushing yards for the half and -16 yards for the game.

Defensive Coordinator Kevin Cosgrove always said it was the goal to stop the run first, and senior linebacker Stewart Bradley said it was definitely mission accomplished. "They've got some fast players, but we had a great gameplan and were able to pretty much shut them down," Bradley said. "Our whole goal was to make them one dimensional and we did that."

Yes they did.

Pinning their ears back

One of the byproducts of making a team one dimensional is that you have a sense of what that team is going to do. Add to that a 21-3 lead over the Wildcats, a sense turned into an absolute guarantee.

The blackshirts were coming

Getting sacks hasn't been real easy for the Husker defense this year. Where they had over 30 at this point last year, they weren't even into double-digits going into this game. They at least erased that little run, getting no sacks in the first half, but notching four in the second, starting with a 13 yard dunk by senior defensive end Jay Moore. Following a 40-yard TD run by sophomore running back Marlon Lucky, Kansas State got the ball back and sophomore defensive tackle Ty Steinkhuler along with junior linebacker Lance Brandenburgh got number two.

It didn't take long for them to get number three, freshman defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh busting up the middle on the very next play, nailing the freshman Josh Freeman for a 14 yard loss. The last one came at the hands of senior defensive tackle Ola Dagunduro as he nailed the K. State QB during the Wildcat's last drive of the game.

For Suh that sack pushed him to 3.5 for the season, leading the team, but that wasn't enough. In the fourth quarter Suh actually intercepted Freeman at the line of scrimmage.

It seems the more time Suh has gotten, the more effective he's been, and that's meant even more time on the field. You can imagine he's not arguing with the extra reps. "With the time and the reps, I definitely feel like I am in a groove," he said. "That's due to me just going out there at practice, coach pushing us and making sure we have game temp everyday in practice."

"That's where I get a lot of my reps – in practice."

Nebraska now has 12 sacks on the year

Going For The Cut Back

I have to admit that I thought I was watching the Nebraska of old. No, I am not trying to paint a good win into something it's not. I mean that in regard to all of the running plays meant to stretch the defense to the corners, which gave the running backs lanes galore to cut back into and head up field.

For Brandon Jackson that's almost been his mantra the last two games as he continues to be Nebraska's most productive back over the last couple of contests, but he's the shiftiest as well. "Getting the cutback really isn't the design, but if it's there I am going to take it," Jackson said after the game. "I'm just seeing a lot of holes in those cutback lanes, and that's ok with me."

This marks the third game out of the last four, where Nebraska has rushed the ball for 190 yards or more.

The running game has also allowed the Huskers to control the clock, averaging just over 33 minutes a game with the bal, whereas the opponents are almost a full seven minutes less.

On the road even receivers say that is the way to go.

"You have to be able to run the ball on the road," junior wide receiver Maurice Purify said. "With the passing game, there's just too much bad things that can happen. If you can run the ball on the road, you control the game."

The Go-To Guy

It's been a steady progression, but it would seem that Purify has gone from hopeful contributor to almost a lock for the ball when he's on the field. There weren't many times when the junior wideout stepped on the fields, he didn't see the ball coming his way. Without starting a game Purify is closing in on junior Terrence Nunn as the most productive receiver.

For the game Purify had four catches for 73 yards, and a long of 32. For the season he has 15 caches for 333 yards (22.2 avg), two touchdowns, with a long reception of 42 yards. Purify said that his success just comes from his comfort level with the playbook.

"I know pretty much the entire playbook, but what we are running are the plays I am the most comfortable with," Purify said. "That number is going to keep going up, so I'll be looking at more opportunities to play."


While Purify may be looking at more reps, Nunn may be finding himself with less reps if he's not careful. Last year as a sophomore, Nunn had a problem securing the ball, both in the return game and after receptions. The most costly reception he fumbled last year was against Missouri as he was going in for a potential score, and the lead in the game, only to have it knocked out of his hands, Missouri recovering.

Terrence had two fumbles in this contest, but fortunately for the Huskers, one was recovered by Nebraska (Brandon Jackson) and the other bounced harmlessly out of bounds.

He's Back!

Following an obviously frustrating hiatus, senior center Kurt Mann came back for the big red, making his first appearance since Louisiana Tech back in early September. Mann continued to play throughout the entire contest. You can imagine it was great for the players to see him back, but for Mann, he's probably the happiest of all.

"It's good to be back on the field, but I'm obviously a little rusty and I'm still a bit light," Mann said. "I feel good, though. I've got a ways to get back to where I was, but I am feeling pretty good right now."

The head coach was glad to have him back. "Brett gave us a lot of quality play, but we just changed up. We had a feeling we could utilize Kurt a little more today. We went to Kurt and he provided us with some excellent play as well as Brett," he said.

Cross Your Fingers

In the second half junior linebacker Corey McKeon went down with an ankle injury. While McKeon was seen on the sidelines later, and in uniform, he didn't see the field the rest of the game.

When asked about the injury, head coach Bill Callahan said at this point there wasn't anything definite known. "We have to look at it. They are looking at it right now," he said. "It's an ankle (but) to what degree and what severity I won't know until tomorrow."


When only Notre Dame, Michigan and Texas can say they have 800 or more wins in their history, that's a pretty darn good class to join. Nebraska did that with the victory over Kansas State. Since the first victory over Omaha YMCA in 1890, Nebraska has averaged just under seven wins per season for the 116 years they have been playing the game.

Michigan leads in total wins, totaling 855 since they started playing in 1879.

Props For Purple

Say what you want about Josh Freeman and his rather abrupt change of mind, but the kid can play. No, he didn't set the world on fire against Nebraska, but when forced into a position where everyone knew he was going to pass, he did and had some success.

The freshman went off for 272 yards through the air, a career high and the best mark for Kansas State all year. Freeman didn't managed to complete even 50 percent of his passes, but he threw the ball 47 times, which is another season high for KSU.

A true freshman he is and at times his inexperience showed. The two interceptions, the ill-advised passes on the run – all of it you probably would expect of someone his age. But what Freeman showed not just with his arm, but the combination of that and his mobility, if he's continually refined he'll be a darn good one down the road.

Same Gameplan, Different Effect?

It's amazing how having almost the exact same offensive gameplan can look so different one week to the next, but between Iowa State and now Kansas State, that's essentially what you have.

Zac Taylor had only one more pass in this game (22) than he did last week. And while Nebraska ran it 43 times this weekend, they ran it just two more times just a week ago.

So, what was the difference? Why should this win feel any better, outside of the fact that Kansas State only got three points versus Iowa State's 14, and Nebraska never seemed threatened even once during this contest, while Iowa State was posing at least a small threat late in the game?

The fact that Kansas State had a freshman at QB is one good reason why this philosophy worked so well. Sure, you were going to give up yards here and there, but often the biggest difference between someone young and someone more experienced, just comes down to consistency.

Given the choice, would you gamble more with Freeman or with Iowa State QB Bret Meyer?

You take Freeman, of course, and make him beat you down the field.

Freeman got his passes here and there, but it was almost exclusively outside of the pocket, because the pressure around the pocket was simply too much. Nebraska did their job, but they didn't offer Freeman for nothing. The kid has great athleticism. Remember, this kid was offered not just as a QB, but also as a tight end and even as a defensive end.

Another reason for optimism here versus last week is that Nebraska was doing damage right away. It was just five plays into the game when Brandon Jackson broke off a 48 yard scamper, and that could have set the tone for the day.

The biggest thing which makes this game a winner, whereas last week's game seemed a lot closer than it should have been just comes down to dominance. Nebraska dominated Kansas State, from start to finish, buckling on a solitary fake and giving up three points, which was earned from over 50 yards away.

They stopped the run completely, shutting down one of the more talented freshman backs in the conference, and on offense they once again controlled the line.

The combination of all that made this game a solid outing for the big red, and on both sides of the ball. Now they can only hope that the balance they have created in both the passing and running game, along with the stoutness of the run stopping defense, is enough to give pause to the Texas Longhorns, who come in next weekend sporting only one loss and that coming to the number one Ohio State Buckeyes.

That will actually be a day game for once as Nebraska hits the prime time for the day. It won't be for the North, but if Nebraska could win that game, they wouldn't just control their own destiny and they wouldn't just control the division, but for awhile at least, they would control the whole conference.

We'll have to wait and see how it goes.

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