The Huskies face their toughest task yet this week in Husky Stadium, a top-ten Nebraska team. We know a little more about Nebraska than the first two teams of the season just because they don’t have so many question marks. That being said, there are still a few unknowns for the Huskers. Nebraska hasn’t played anyone good yet. They played Western Kentucky the first week and beat them 49-10. Last week they beat Idaho 38-17 in a very sloppy game. Let’s looks at this Good Guy’s style, position by position:
Quarterback: Taylor Martinez starts for Nebraska. If you have read anything at all about this game you’ve probably heard Martinez’s name come up. He’s a red-shirt freshman that surpassed last year’s starter, Zac Lee, during the off-season. Martinez is fast. Jake Locker fast. He’s said to have 4.5 40 and has run up and down the field against his first two opponents. Martinez is averaging 13.8 yards a carry and has the capability to break a huge run. I could see him running right by the Huskies defensive ends the entire game. Throwing may be a different story. He’s said to be perfectly capable with his arm but hasn’t proved that yet. Frankly, Nebraska hasn’t needed to throw the football very much yet. Martinez is 22-34 on the season throwing the football. That’s a good completion percentage, but keep in mind the competition. Martinez, and the Nebraska offense as a whole, has been a little turnover-prone in the first couple games. Last week, the Cornhuskers fumbled 8 times! Yes, 8 times! They lost 3 of them and Martinez also threw an interception. All in all, the quarterback position seems to be in good hands at Nebraska. Still, it’s the first road start for a freshman in a Husky Stadium that should be louder than it has in years. Martinez is a stud but still unproven.
Running Back: Roy Helu Jr. and Rex Burkhead are Nebraska’s main backs. Helu is supposedly the lightning to Burkhead’s thunder. Burkhead is a very solid guy with a good burst but is lacking the big-play speed. He is also a good receiver out of the backfield. Helu is a lot the same except he isn’t used as a receiver quite as much. Helu did rush for 1,147 yards last year. Obviously, he’s a proven, good player. He may have a little better overall speed, but Martinez is the big play guy in the Nebraska backfield. The Huskers go without a fullback generally, because of their spread offense attack. Think Oregon as far as formations go. Burkhead has also lined up in the Wildcat quite a bit. I don’t really understand why the Huskers would do this since they have Martinez now but don’t be surprised if you see that on Saturday.
Wide Receiver: This is probably the biggest question mark for Nebraska. They have two really big guys, Niles Paul and Brandon Kinnie, who are both over 6’2″, 220. Paul also runs a little bit in a fly-sweep type play. The two guys I mentioned are possession type receivers, but given their size, it seems like they would be pretty good down-field, also. The Huskers don’t really have any proven deep threats, yet. We’ll see if they take any chances this week. Mike McNeil plays a tight end/receiver type role. He’s another giant, standing at 6’4″, 230. The rest of the receiving corps is an unknown and they seem to lack consistency as a whole.
Offensive Line: Nebraska returns 4 of 5 starters on the offensive line but did lose their best player to graduation. The line doesn’t have any huge stars but they’ve been solid thus far, leading the Huskers to 324 rushing yards a game. The line wasn’t great last year, but wasn’t bad either. Their line might not be quite as good as BYU but it’ll be a tough match-up for the Dawgs up front. The Huskies will most likely bring a lot of guys in the box to try to stop the rushing attack. The Husker line is pretty strong, all in all.
We’ll get to the defensive side of the ball after the jump. While the Huskers offense is formidable, the defense is where they excel. Nebraska had the best defense in the country last year. They lose 5 starters but have reloaded just fine.
Defensive Line: Everyone knows Nebraska lost its star player, Ndamukong Suh. A player like that is irreplaceable, but the line is still very strong. Jared Crick looks to turn in All-American season this year. He is the leader of the defensive line. Crick explodes off the ball, making him really good against the run. The other returning starter on the line is defensive end, Pierre Allen. He looks to take a step forward this season, after 5 sacks last year. These two players may give the Huskies line trouble. The other guys are relatively unknown but definitely aren’t push-overs.
Linebackers: Linebacker is a strange spot for the Huskers. Nebraska is loaded in the secondary and will play up to 7 defensive backs at once from time to time. This leaves them without linebackers. There are several guys who will play here though. Sean Fisher and Will Compton returned to this group after spot-starting some last year and playing pretty well. Will Compton got hurt in the first week though and Eric Martin has taken his spot. This spot is the weak position on the Nebraska defense. With that being said, they’re still pretty good. Losing Compton hurts but Martin had a good week against Idaho. These linebackers may be needed as the Huskies try to establish a run-game.
Secondary: These guys are good. They have 2 lock-down corners and maybe more. Prince Amukamara starts at left corner and is rated as the top defensive back in the country by some NFL scouting services. He has a great break to the ball. On the other side, Alfonzo Dennard starts. He is not quite as dominant as Amukamara but no one in college football is. Both of these guys would probably be the Huskies best corner. Dejon Gomes is the other leader of the secondary. He plays safety most of the time (he can also line up as a cornerback in their dime package). Anytime you feel comfortable playing 7 guys from one unit, you know you have a good unit. This will be the best secondary the Huskies will face this year. Nebraska intercepted 5 passes and ran 2 back for touchdowns last week. The Dawgs might have the best receivers the Huskers will face this year, so we have a great match-up here. This could be the key to the game.
Here’s Condotta’s scouting report on Nebraska. It’s almost Saturday and I’m starting to believe the Huskies might have a chance in this game! Go Dawgs, and thanks for reading!