Keys to Success: Colorado

It might have been just one win, but Nebraska fans saw what the West Coast Offense was capable of doing against Kansas State. The Huskers put up 73 points, but still allowed over 400 yards on defense. The Huskers might be able to outscore people, but they might need to stop the Buffaloes of Colorado in hopes of winning this weekend.

After Kansas State scored first on Nebraska, over a week and a half ago, there was some dread that Husker fans could be in for a long afternoon. Instead, Nebraska rallied and put together a clinic on how to control the ball and be efficient on offense. The defense still needs a little work.

GLASS HALF FULL

- Are you kidding me? Joe Ganz's numbers make the fantasy fanatics drool (500 yards passing and seven touchdowns).
- Husker fans have been waiting for Frantz Hardy to "arrive" for three years. Too bad it came in his last home game appearance (three touchdowns).
- Cortney Grixby has been close all season, along with Andre Jones, to breaking one. Andre could have had his own in the second half had he chose to go towards the other corner of the endzone.
- Marlon Lucky ran hard, more than that, he played the complete game. It's good to see him having fun.
- The defense got ample pressure on the quarterback, but had they sacked Josh Freeman every play it wouldn't have been enough for my liking.
- Being in the stadium for the game, it was nice to have that hone-field advantage back in our pockets. The crowd forced a lot of procedure penalties.
- Interesting rotations along the offensive line. I saw Matt Slauson at left tackle a while. I also saw guys like Mike Smith, D. J. Jones and Keith Williams get a lot of playing time.
- I was a bit surprised that Anthony Blue got so much time on defense, but he played really well. Prince Amukamura and he will be solid corners going forward.
- You had to like what you saw out of Kevin Dixon. He played like a man possessed. He was literally un-stoppable.
- No interceptions and no fumbles. Excellent game by Nebraska's offense when it came to controlling the ball and not hurting themselves.

GLASS HALF EMPTY

- The defense still allowed too many yards. KSU threw for over 300 yards or just about 40 yards over their average to that point in the season.
- While Nebraska enjoyed success on 4th down, including a run by Ganz to convert on 4th and 20, Nebraska was terrible on third down (5 of 11).
- There were still a couple of dropped passes that should have been caught. I believe that one was on third down to Maurice Purify. Too many drops last weekend and all season long.

There wasn't a lot to pick on when it came to Nebraska's performance against Kansas State. Overall, I would say that it's the best the offense has looked since Bill Callahan came to Nebraska. That being said, can they keep it clicking as they head West to take on Colorado in Boulder? What must Nebraska do to win this weekend?

1. Ride the Offense - Simply put, the defense has been the Achilles heel this year. The offense is humming and should allow for Nebraska to outscore most of their opponents.
2. No turnovers - Last week Nebraska not only didn't fumble the ball, but they didn't throw an interception either. Nebraska can't afford mistakes on the road and expect to win.
3. Clinch the bowl game - This team has been through a lot. It would be a tribute to them and their resiliency if they made it into a bowl game.
4. End CU's Season - How about that for some incentive? Not only do you have the chance to extend your season, but you can end Colorado's. Let them deal with nothing but snow this winter.
5. Do it for the coaches - There will be a meeting between the coaches and Tom Osborne the weekend after the game. There is reason to believe the CU game might be some of the coaches' last game at Nebraska.

FIVE OBVIOUS PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

1. Joe Ganz - If Ganz goes into Boulder and pulls off a win, there might be a little more than a few asking where he was against teams like Wake Forest, USC and Ball State (for starters).
2. Maurice Purify - There might be some health issues in the Colorado secondary that Ganz and Purify can help exploit a little bit.
3. Thomas Lawson - A kid from Colorado, quietly Lawson has had a very solid year and he will be and integral part to Nebraska getting the running game going and blocking Jordon Dizon.
4. Bret Byford - Another tough one for Byford as he will have to block Brandon Nicolas who is first in tackles for loss and second for sacks on CU's defense.
5. Zach Potter - Cody Hawkins has been sacked 14 times this season and I could see the Nebraska defense pinning their ears back and trying to get a lot of pressure this Friday.

FIVE NOT SO OBVIOUS PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

1. Quentin Castille - He seems to have cured the "fumbleitis" a little bit and showed great quickness against Kansas State. Expect Castille to get a lot of time against CU this week.
2. Mike Smith - As a tackle, Smith is as athletic of player that Nebraska has seen play the position in a long time. The former defensive end has become key in the rotation on the offensive line.
3. Sean Hill - If Purify needs some help working against the CU secondary it might come in the form of a tight end that is getting lost underneath. Hill could have a big game.
4. Steve Octavien - Octavien has been one to watch all season, but this week might be special for Steve. Expect Steve to have an impact on getting pressure on the quarterback this weekend.
5. Zac Bowman - The captain didn't see the field a lot against Kansas State. It's not known as to why, but I will be looking to see if Bowman is on the field more than last week.

This season has been interesting, to say the least. I am looking at it a little differently than some, but ponder that four of Nebraska's losses this season came to teams rated in the top 20. Those four teams were actually in the top 12 last weekend.

They are still losses, but against quality opponents. If anything, I will say that the most difficult thing to take this season were the losses to team that weren't in the top 25. Maybe worse than that, some of the wins that Nebraska did get, like Wake Forest and Ball State, weren't convincing performances.

This is a different team right now though. The Huskers believe in themselves and are having fun. It also might show what time in the system does for a play as opposed to ideal body height, weight, speed, etc. Joe Ganz is a heck of a player in this offense and deserves a lot of credit for his play and his patience.

I think one of the main reasons Kansas State struggled so much against Nebraska was that Ganz was under center more than what he thought he might be. I could see Nebraska pulling a bit of a rope-a-dope this weekend as well and change their look again. CU is a six point favorite, but Nebraska wins this easily. Give me the Huskers in a big win, 48-21.


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