How are the Huskers going to defeat the Arkansas State Red Wolves? By playing straight-up better football. The Red Wolves don't strike me as a team that's going to use a lot of gimmicks to beat us but that they'll play much tougher football than expected and hope to catch the Huskers off guard. That is the simplistic way that coaches expect to win when they're the underdog and the amazing thing is that it continues to work as evident throughout every college football season.
The tenacity of the Red Wolves makes them a great opponent the week before Virginia Tech. Of course, let's hope the Husker players don't see it that way. Let's hope they truly respect Arkansas State, then crush them with ruthless efficiency.
The best way to kill the hope of any underdog is to destroy their hopes as quickly as possible. The first drive against Florida Atlantic resulted in a three and out. The first half, despite a 21-3 lead, was sluggish with plenty of mistakes. The first game has passed, so there should no longer be any excuses.
The Huskers need to come out blasting on offense and put the Red Wolves away early instead of waiting until the third quarter to become an offensive force. Let's see some tough runs by Roy Helu Jr on the first drive and a Husker offensive line that takes Arkansas State's defense right out of the game.
Killing your enemy early - it's the best way to assure a win. It's also the best way to assure a good program by getting your second stringers in with plenty of time left towards the end of the game.
Dominance Up Front
It's no secret that the Red Wolves will need to establish their running game to win. Nebraska's defensive line needs to take control of the game early, i.e., fast start, and dominate the game from the early going. Arkansas State is coming into this game missing fifth year senior Dominic Padrta at right guard. That'll be a huge benefit to Jared Crick and Ndamukong Suh as they can take advantage of Arkansas State's depth problems.
Last week showed that the Huskers defensive backs could guard decent receivers in man-to-man coverage. That leaves the linebackers free to play their favorite roles as hunter-killers. Time for youngsters WIll Compton and Sean Fisher to show more playmaking ability, perhaps get a turnover or two.
Last week was not crisp. Despite the 49-3 butt-kicking delivered to Florida Atlantic, it just wasn't the crisp game that Bo Pelini was looking for.
There were way too many penalties in the first game - nine for 86 yards. Some of that can be excused because of first game jitters. Unfortunately, last year Nebraska was one on the worst teams in the nation for penalties, finishing 104th. That needs to vastly improve this season if the expectation is to win the Big 12 North.
Crisp - few mistakes, great execution on both sides of the ball. That's what Husker fans should be looking for this week. That's what the Husker coaches will be looking for, as it's only one week away before the Huskers travel to Blacksburg. It's time to put it together.