If this game doesn't worry you at least a little, you're not paying attention. Forget that Tech is on the road. Forget that they don't have Michael Crabtree or Graham Harrell, they're still the same ol' Texas Tech that can put up yardage and points at a faster rate than nearly anyone in the nation.
Last year's Tech game was a freakazoid affair with Nebraska holding the ball for 40 minutes. The Huskers controlled the game with a ball control passing offense. Can that happen again this year? With Zac Lee as Joe Ganz, Niles Paul as Nate Swift, and a whole gob of other guys playing Todd Peterson, why not?
As much as you'd like to think Nebraska can line up in tight end heavy sets and pummel the Tech defense, it's not going to happen.
Take What You're Given
Much has been made this week about the Huskers throwing the ball so often in the rain at Missouri. Mid-week we discovered that Watson's calls were biased toward the rain, but changed to passes by Lee after reading the Missouri defense. I don't understand the angst over this, especially given the outcome of the game.
If Tech moves up to stop the run, then take what you're given and throw the ball. It would be foolhardy to run when you're outnumbered at the line of scrimmage. If that means throwing the ball 40 times, then so be it. Zac Lee has performed well at home, as has his receiving corps. There's no reason to expect that this game will be any different.
Keep in mind, it's not the Huskers who are looking for an offensive identity. It's the media that creates this "run the ball" frenzy so they can feed off it. The team is looking to win football games by whatever means they can. Keep in mind that we have one very good running back, while we have quite a number of very good receivers - Niles Paul, Mike McNeill, Curenski Gilleylen included.
If winning means Roy Helu gaining 150 yards on the ground, then yay for him. If it's Zac Lee throwing for 250 yards, then there's nothing wrong with that either.
Win First Down
This key, along with the first, are just another way of saying "ball control", and that is just another way of saying to win we need to keep Tech's offense off the field. I wouldn't expect the same level of a ball control offense we saw last season, but things will go much easier if we get solid yardage on first down.
Play selection is much easier when you're working with second or third and three as opposed to seven. Rex Burkhead will be missed because of his straight ahead tough running style, but Shawn Watson will have to discover that talent in another of his young running backs.
Last week, Nebraska recorded 12 penalties for 108 yards. Some of those can be written off because of the inclement conditions, but many of them were the result of poor discipline. Husker fans don't need to be reminded of the drive-killing nature of penalties.
We're midway through the season. It's time for the stupidity to end. Nebraska's offense can't afford to lose points because of it, especially not against a team that's known for rolling up yards and points like Tech.
The bottom line is this - the offense can't expect the defense to bail them out of every game this season, so stop shooting yourselves in the foot.
Control The Lines
Ndamukong Suh has played with such a fervor that it's difficult to imagine him being stopped by anyone, but in this game he'll be going up against one of the Big 12's best offensive linemen in Tech guard Brandon Carter. Let's assume that Carter is able to control Suh better than most, which means it will be time for Jared Crick, Pierre Allen, and Barry Turner to get some big plays.
The rest of Suh's counterparts will need to get pressure on Tech's quarterback, but they'll also be responsible for stopping Tech's running game, ala the 11 touchdowns on the ground alluded to earlier this week. That means controlling the gaps, standing your ground and getting an even push upfield. It does not mean exploding up the field in an all-out pass rush.
The offensive line must perform better to win this game. They'll need to pick up the short yardage situations to sustain drives. They must also be better disciplined in run blocking, not allowing linebackers to shoot through and blow up a play because someone missed an assignment.
It will be a good sign if Nebraska is able to run the ball in the middle of Tech's defense. Last week we were all about running wide. If we're going to run the ball, we need to make sure we're getting yardage in the middle as well as the edges.