Game Plan Now In for Clemson

Back in full pads, the Huskers' continued their preparations for the 2009 Gator Bowl. Yesterday there was a lot of talk about how the defense would address some of the concerns they saw with the Clemson offense. Today it was the other way around. The Tigers will go into this contest with a top 20 defense, which for any Offensive Coordinator, is going to present its share of challenges.

When it comes to addressing the Clemson defense, ranking as one of the top 20 defenses in the country, that's going to present some issues. Can you run on them? Can you throw on them? What exactly do you think is going to work? For Offensive Coordinator Shawn Watson, that's obviously been the goal throughout preparations the last week or so in trying to figure out just what is possible.

"It's a little different style of defense as to what we see in our league, (but) they are really well schemed in terms of what they do," Watson said.

That is the obvious difference for this Clemson defense as the highest ranked passing offense they faced all season was South Carolina, who finished the regular season ranked 54th in passing, averaging 218.5 yards per game. The Big 12 has 10 teams averaging more than that. That doesn't necessarily mean anything, according to Watson, because it's just two different types of leagues. "Our league is pretty good at throwing the ball," he said. "I don't want to take anything away from anyone we've played or are going to play. We're just going to run our stuff."

Despite the obvious idea that passing could be a premium for a potentially effective Husker offense, there's little doubt that the Huskers still must be able to run. The Huskers ranked in the top half of the conference in total offense, the fifth best rushing offense (173.5 yards per game) in the conference making up a decent portion of Nebraska's average output per game.

Sophomore running back Roy Helu Jr. led the Huskers in rushing, finishing with 804 yards on the season, averaging an impressive 6.7 yards per game, scoring seven times on the year. Fellow running backs senior Marlon Lucky and sophomore Quentin Castille, added seven and six touchdowns on the ground, respectively. But in the receiving game, the trio also proved to be potent, combining for 630 yards and one score.

For Lucky, who has been hampered with a turf toe for over the last three weeks, he's finally back to one hundred percent, according to Watson. That means he's got as healthy a backfield as he has had the entire year. That leads to throwing in a lot of ideas, trying new things, and with all this extra time Watson said it's enough time to put a lot in and then start taking stuff back out. "We always push ourselves as a staff to be creative outside of what we've done. We don't ever want to be the same. The system has allowed us to do that," he said. "For this game we have had time, so we are looking at some different things.

"Some of the things we'll keep, some of them we'll can or scratch them, because they aren't us."

The extra time can often be a detriment to offensive game plans, because maybe coaches think they can get a little too cute. Watson said that, that is always a danger, but regardless of the variety of things they are looking at trying, none of it goes outside of the realm of what they have done over the course of the year. "We always try to color outside the lines no matter what we do, but that stays inside our system," he said.

With still around two weeks go before the game, Watson said that the game plan is in. There's will be a little refinement here and there, taking some stuff out and pushing some other things around. "We've got everything in (and) we'll finish our install here in our last meeting this evening and we'll practice it tomorrow," he said. "But it's gone real well. All we'll do is downsize our game plan from here. We are looking at some things, some different combinations, some things we haven't done – we'll keep some and we'll get rid of some."

Nebraska will head back to the field early tomorrow morning as the Huskers should finish up the weekend's practices around eight or nine in the morning. Many of the players are either into or finishing up their final exams for the year. After that, the team is expected to take a couple more days off for the holidays and come the night of Christmas, finalize preparations for the departure to Jacksonville, Florida the next day.

Check out the full post practice audio as Watson touches more on Clemson's defense, more about his own offense and just what kind of input senior quarterback Joe Ganz has in the game plan which is being developed.

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