This offense has been ineffective for most of the Big 12 schedule. However, this weekend could give Nebraska what it needs most, a little boost. More than that, it could be a leaping pad for the rest of the season to try and propel Nebraska into the Big 12 Championship game. Here are some things that I will be watching this weekend:
1. Lee or Green? - The game against Kansas presents some opportunities to throw the ball that might benefit Zac Lee. The man to man style that KU runs in the secondary might allow for Shawn Watson to be a little more creative than he HAD to be against Oklahoma. Look for an offense that is looking for something else other than an identity. It might be looking for a groove.
2. Still a game about turnovers - The Oklahoma game had very little do about Nebraska's offense beyond an offense that didn't hurt the team by turning the ball over. This game, and the rest of the games on the schedule, will be about Nebraska being plus in the turnover category and not negative.
3. Does a seasoned QB matter? - Todd Reesing is on the record saying that Nebraska hasn't faced a seasoned QB this season yet. Will it matter? Reesing is definitely a gamer and can do some special things, but KU has some big problems on offense right now.
4. Who is going to block Suh? - A redshirt freshman from KU, named Trevor Marrongelli, might be asked to make the start tomorrow at RG which is right across from Ndamukong Suh. Even if Suh does get a fair share of double-teams it could add up to another big day for Jared Crick. That tandem of interior DL is the best in the nation, period.
5. Calling all tight ends! -I swear, this is the fourth or the fifth week that I have looked for the tight end to REALLY get involved in the offensive game plan. Sure, Ryan Hill caught the touchdown against Oklahoma last week, but the tight end position is the deepest of all the positions on the offensive side of the ball. Where is Mike McNeil? "They" might be the most reliable of all the receivers in Lincoln.
6. Creativity on offense - I hope to see some different things against KU. I would like to see some more play action, more draws, more screens and most of all in something that would look like a rhythm. If there's not, and the offense spits and sputters again, then there is a real need to look just beyond a change at the quarterback position and possibly give the reigns of play-calling for a while.
7. A banged up secondary, who plays? - I really haven't read anything that would indicate that either Alfonzo Dennard or Larry Asante wouldn't be playing on Saturday. I think that both have been battling injury for some time. However, this might give another chance or two to DeJon Gomes, who I have been very impressed with, and P.J. Smith, who looks like the heir apparent at safety, to get some time Saturday.
8. NUs OTs and KUs DEs - Same ol' song and dance, Nebraska's offensive tackles are going to get tested on Saturday when Nebraska comes out and wants to take advantage of things downfield. The KU defensive has 25 sacks already this year and Jake Laptad has 6.5 of them. Nebraska won't be able to block them all day, but they will have to be create in ways to slow them down and use their pressure they want to apply up-field against them.
9. Where is he and who has him? - Are you kidding, Dezmon Briscoe is a guy that KU better know where he is at on the field at all times. While Todd Reesing has had his share of struggles recently, Briscoe has still been doing well. Nebraska is banged up in the secondary and needs to give Briscoe some extra attention on Saturday.
10. Big game letdown - Before the Oklahoma game, Nebraska had lost previous two games at home. The OU game was a big effort by the Nebraska team, despite only putting up 10 points, to come away with a win. Kansas is in the need of a spark. Beating a Nebraska team on regional television could be just what the doctor ordered.
Kansas has been struggling offensively. Nebraska has been struggling offensively. The Kansas defense, however, has allowed some teams to go back and forth with them this season. I think that the Nebraska offense has a real chance to get on the right track against Kansas tomorrow.
The reason why I say that is because KU likes to run man to man, a lot like the non-conference opponents that Nebraska faced in the early part of the season, and that could add up to a big passing game. That is, a big passing game if Zac Lee is the starter.
So, give me Zac Lee and give me more points than Nebraska has put up in their last four contests. I think that Nebraska can go down to Lawrence, stop the Jayhawks by getting pressure on Reesing, create some turnovers and flip the field for the Nebraska offense. Give me Lee and the Huskers, 24-10.