Key Points Needed to Claim Victory
The Huskers will face an efficient, mobile quarterback, Braxton Miller this Saturday in Columbus, Ohio. Call it Pelini's kryptonite, but mobile quarterbacks are dangerous in college against any level of competition, and not just a team coached by Bo Pelini. If the Huskers do nothing but prevent Miller from making plays and getting yards on the ground, winning this game is still not a guarantee. Nebraska needs to focus on more than that to come away with a victory. And if Miller is not contained, these other areas could be enough to pull away from Ohio State, or even put this game away late.
"Starting fast" or "slow starts" have been some key words in media questions and conference calls this week already. The Huskers have come out overamped at the start of two major night games. The routine of sitting in a hotel all day with nothing to do has left the Huskers with mistakes against opponents more than willing to take advantage of them. The Huskers do not need a fast start on offense, they need a methodical one. The Blackshirts do not need to be keyed in on stopping Braxton Miller, they need to focus on their assignments and keep the play in front of them. The way this defense has used blitzes and schemes later in a game means that consistent, purposeful football at the start is more important than making a statement. Intentional attempts to "quiet the crowd" lead to big plays going the other way.
For play calling and numbers, this means a few important things. Number one is the run game of the Huskers against the Buckeye rushing defense. Nebraska is averaging over 300 yards per game on the ground and will be facing a stout front seven that has limited opponents to 100. It could be a game resting on the arm of Taylor Martinez. A few hundred yards on the ground the first half is an unrealistic goal, but the team cannot stop trying to push forward. The offensive line needs to exert its will and continue to try for running success well into the second half.
Turnovers can change the momentum of a game with a wild swing. Giving away the ball can put pressure on your defense that cannot be sustained without buckling. Those fortunate bounces that seemed to skip a ball the way of the Huskers against Wisconsin will not continue to happen through the whole season. To counteract this, offensive players need to keep their ball security tactics tested and decision making issues in check. But more importantly, the defense needs to take advantage of things like those errant passes that hit their hands or keep ready to pounce on a football when the runner hits the hole. Takeaways in the most literal sense of the word turned the game around against OSU last year, no reason it would not make a difference this season.