Nebraska - Kansas State Preview
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Top Fan said something in his weekly poll I hadn't given much thought to; people outside of Nebraska may not have seen us play this year! Unthinkable to those of us who get a daily overdose of the Scarlet and Cream. So I thought why don't I and the rest of us NU fans here give our opinions of what an outsider should be looking for as we take center stage on Thursday night.
Running Backs. We have two backs that are fun to watch, Roy Helu jr. and Rex Burkhead. Two very different styles, Helu is the classic NU tailback with great speed and a deftness at the line that allows him to find a hole where there isn't one and usually get some positive yards. Burkhead hits the line with all the subtleness of a jack hammer. Completely fearless. And while Rex doesn't have the flat out speed of Helu he's quick and decisive and is just plain exciting to watch.
Quarterback. Coach Pelini has stopped returning my calls, and so after four games I've accepted the fact that Taylor Martinez is our starter. He's got alot of upside, first and foremost are his legs. Easily the fastest QB we've had in alot of years, maybe ever. Martinez is averaging 124 yds rushing per game, 2 rushing TDs a game and 9.4 per carry, and once in the open field he just flat out flies.
Passing however is a slightly different story. Taylor has a great arm, but lacks a really quick release that I think holds him back a little. Don't get me wrong, he's an able passer averaging 133 yards a game, he just needs a little work on his mechanics. So while he may have a cannon, it takes him a while to load, cock and fire it. He's also a young guy, and with that comes the inevitible growing pains. He's going to make some poor decisions, but at the same time he's capable of breaking it to the house on every snap. He's not boring that's for sure.
The Black Shirts.
Last year it was all about Suh and the front four, this year it's about the secondary. The Huskers still have an intimidating front four led by Jared Crick who has 20 tackles on the year including 5 for losses of 33 yards including 3 sacks. Crick and company will have their hands full trying to stop K State's Daniel Thomas who is one of the premier backs in the league. But this year's show stopper is the secondary. Two guys in particular to keep an eye on: senior corner DeJon Gomes and jr LB Lavonte David. They lead the Black Shirts with a total of 74 tackles and a sack between them. Gomes also has a 40 yard pick six.
I expect Snyder and his Wildcats to stick to their bread and butter and pound strait ahead with Thomas all night long. Gomes and David have been lights out in run support to this point, and will need to be strong again. I think that's the key here; teams have zero success running to the perimeter against our defensive speed, but there has been room to roam if they run strait at us. K State is far and away the best ground team we've seen to this point. If NU can shut down the run and force the Wildcats to the air, it plays right into our hands.
Our achilles heal.
Turnovers and penalties. With conference play finally starting for us we have, have, have to eliminate the stupid penalties we've been piling up so far. Ball security is alway big, but against a Snyder coached team it'll be the death knoll for the Huskers if we continue to put the ball on the ground. Coach Snyder's game plan counts on Martinez and his legs getting cold in the Manhattan Kansas night sitting on the bench while they ground out yard after yard and eat the clock, and if we give him the ball three or four times it'll work.
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