Keys to Success: Texas

Nebraska knew going into the Texas A&M game that the key was to get Stephen McGee to pass. Instead he rushed for well over 100 yards and dealt Nebraska their fourth loss of the season and making Nebraska .500 on the season. This weekend was supposed to be the highly anticipated road game to Austin.

It's been a rough season for Husker fans and it's probably a very good guess that Nebraska will not be favored in any of their remaining games and need two wins to get bowl eligible. This past weekend against Texas A&M started out well for Nebraska, putting Nebraska into the locker room only down two points, but Nebraska wouldn't score again the rest of the day. Here is how I saw the weekend:


- Some renewed intesnity on the defense for the first half had people optimistic about the game's possible outcome.
- Nebraska showed some creativity on the offensive side of the football in the first half running end arounds and setting up the pass with some power running and some speed running.
- At one point in the first half I was confident Nebraska was going to win because A&M wanted to throw the ball. I think that Nebraska preferred to have A&M try and beat them throwing too.


- The renewed intensity on defense only lasted a half and Nebraska continued a streak of 0-for when it comes to losing at half and not getting the win. Defense just went away.
- The passing game really struggled this past week because of poor protection, some inaccurate balls being thrown by Sam Keller and drops continue to plague this team.
- Some of the tackling that our defense does just looks silly. It's not violent or fundamentally sound. - Nebraska is simply turning the ball over too much to be effective. While Sam Keller didn't throw an interception this weekend, the fact that Nebraska lost three fumbles makes it tough to win.
- I have been saying it since Wake Forest and I will say it again, too often Nebraska can't convert on third downs to keep drives alive. Nebraska was 6 of 13 this weekend against A&M.
- Nebraska is now the 105th rated defense in the nation. I really don't know what else I can say about it. There is no way to "dress it up" or hide it.
- Nebraska's offense is actually ranked 34th in the nation. That is good, but Nebraska is one of three teams in the top 34 that have .500 records or worse (Louisville and Nevada are the other two).
- The common link between the three teams? Louisville's defense is ranked 89th in the nation while Nevada's defense is rated 94th.

Getting onto this week, to many, the trip to Austin by Nebraska was a preliminary look at what the Big 12 Conference game in San Antonio might look like. Texas slipped up early to Kansas State and then lost the following week to Oklahoma. Nebraska has only one win in four tries in conference play this season. Texas looks to be in good shape when it comes to making a bowl game and Nebraska is trying to get bowl eligible. Nebraska must win two of the next four to do just that. Here is how Nebraska could come out of Austin with a win:

1. Make Colt be a passer - Too many times last season did Nebraska find themselves dropping into coverage only to have Colt McCoy running right at them making big plays and making big conversions.
2. Get pressure on the QB - #1 and #2 seem kind of contradictory in a way, but Nebraska must make Colt try to pass to win and when they do that they must rush him to cut down on his comfort level in the pocket.
3. Win the battle of turnovers - Nebraska can't afford to turn the ball over as many times as they did a week ago. As soon as Nebraska would appear to get something going or make a stop defensively there would be a turnover. You really can't afford it on the road.
4. Establish the run - Nebraska will need to have some ball control and keep Texas' offense off of the field as much as they can to have success this weekend. Nebraska must do this by running against Texas.
5. Make the big special teams play - If there is one thing about Texas it might be that they are a little susceptible to allowing big return yardage and plays against them. Nebraska's return game is actually pretty good and could provide a spark for the Nebraska offense.


1. Jaivorio Burkes - Nebraska is taking the redshirt off of another freshman because they need help. Burkes will step in to take over right tackl after Lydon Murtha went down with an injury.Quentin Castille - If Nebraska is going to be successful this weekend they will need Quentin to run tough and be effective by not turning over the football.Armando Murillo - He's been close a couple of times in the past few games to making a pick. He will get one soon and it will come at the right time.
4. Sam Keller - The Texas secondary isn't as good as it has been in recent years, but it's still a very good unit. Maybe the best way to describe them is opportunistic. Keller must make good decisions and better throws this weekend.
5. Mauric Purify - Purify said in the Tuesday press conference that he is more comfortable playing on the road since some of the recent games in Lincoln brought out some boos. Let's just see what he does this weekend.


1. Roy Helu - Quietly, Helu may be the scariest running backs that Nebraska has. He runs hard, has some good burst and seems to have excellent field vision. He is a great change of pace running back.
2. Nick Covey - The health of the linebackers, particularly the SAM position, is a major concern for Nebraska. Bo Ruud and Blake Lawrence are both listed as day to day and Covey could be a guy to fill in.
3. Brett Byford - The interior of Texas's defensive line is very good. Byford has struggled against some of the better defensive tackles he has had to face this season. 4. Nate Swift - Swift missed a reception that could have been a touchdown and also botched a punt return. He is due for a good game and typically plays big in big games.
5. Larry Asante and Tierre Green - Discipline is going to be needed by the safeties of Nebraska to NOT allow Texas big plays throwing the football. With pressure up front and disciplined play in the secondary, Nebraska could win this game.

I don't have a crystal ball to see the psyche of the team. I can only imagine that they are looking for answers. Might it be that in the face of great adversity that they could come together and click? It's possible, but I don't think that it will happen this weekend.

The bottom line is this, if Nebraska can't go into halftime with a lead and then not win the game of turnovers in the second half then this game could get ugly. Athletically, Texas has "USC like" players on their side and we all know how they went for Nebraska earlier this season.

Personally, I think that Nebraska can keep this game close, but again will come up short and will be 1-4 in conference play at the end of the weekend. I am going to say Texas wins, 35-24.

Big Red Report Top Stories