Young: Nebraska Will Be A Challenge

Bill Young has had a profound influence on the current resurgence of Nebraska Cornhusker football. No, Lincoln, Neb., wasn't among Young's 14 coaching stops since 1968 but Columbus, Ohio, was. That is where Young's impact was on Nebraska coach Bo Pelini when Young was the defensive coordinator at the other OSU - Ohio State - from 1988-90. Pelini was a free safety on Young's Buckeye defense.

For as well as OSU's second-year defensive coordinator knows Pelini, he also knows his former safety is bringing a talented offense to Stillwater for Saturday's homecoming festivities.

No. 14 Nebraska, led by redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez, ranks fourth nationally in rushing with 302 yards per game.

"(Martinez) certainly has had some big plays. I know against Western Kentucky he had tremendous runs, against Washington he had some ... in nearly every game he's played in," Young said.

However, the Huskers roll into Stillwater fresh off a disappointing performance against Texas. Then-No. 5 Nebraska lost 20-13 and NU's offense failed to score a touchdown, as Martinez was replaced by Zac Lee after rushing for just 21 yards on 13 carries. He also finished a paltry 4-of-12 passing for 63 yards.

"Texas frustrated them really," Young said. "They played a lot of man coverage which is what they do. It may have caught them off guard a little bit. Texas was able to keep them from having big plays and if you do that, that hurts any offense."

Young said they won't emulate the exact schemes Texas used because it doesn't fit with the Cowboys' personnel but he will preach Texas' discipline in playing smart assignment defense.

"It does (help us to see how Texas defended them) but we just can't do what Texas did," he said. "That's just not our scheme. We'd have to reinvent our whole defense to do that and that would be a prescription for disaster for us, but at the same time it shows you that if you play assignment football and everyone does their job, you have a chance."

Nebraska's offense will pose a challenge to the Pokes not only because of its skill position talent, but also because it runs an offense unlike any OSU has faced this season.

OSU has played three of the nation's top 11 passing offenses in No. 6 Texas Tech, No. 10 Texas A&M, and No. 11 Troy. Tulsa ranked in the top five when the teams met on Sept. 18. But just because it's a different look, Young said he doesn't believe in directing a major shift in what the Cowboys do defensively.

"We're going to run our base defense; that's who are and hopefully it will be good enough to hold up," he said. "We'll have to add a couple of new wrinkles in there without question but the biggest thing is getting off blocks, not getting pushed back into the lap of the linebackers up front, (and) getting great support out of the secondary."

One of the wrinkles might have to be in preparation of Martinez's mastery of the zone read. Martinez ranks 10th nationally in rushing while the backfield tandem of Roy Helu Jr. and combine for 140 yards per game, as well.

So how good is Martinez at executing the zone read?

"Really, really good," Young said. "It's not just the zone read. They run a bunch of plays that we haven't seen. It's a mid-line where they're reading the defensive tackle, and he jumps up the field or hands it off to the back. If he squeezes the back, the quarterback keeps it inside. A lot of time their quarterback's running is designed to be run off tackle but he's bouncing it way outside and out-running the corner who has bolted inside for the tackle where the play should have been run.

"It's a very difficult offense to defend."

Even with OSU coming off arguably its best defensive performance of the season in a 34-17 victory at Texas Tech, Young said they can't get too busy patting themselves on the back because the Huskers present a whole new set of challenges for an improving Cowboy unit.

"No question. We've got a lot of work to do," Young said. "It's an offense that we have not faced yet. We've got to get in there and show our players the plays, how they're going to block us, and just get a lot of reps because that's what it's all about on defense.

"They're going to present a lot of problems for us. We're going to have to take care of business, try to work hard, and get out there and try to get better."

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