The Idaho Vandals come to Lincoln town with just enough of a story line to make things compelling.
(more after the jump...)
Coming off their first shutout since 1997, a 45-0 win over North Dakota
High powered offense, could be dangerous if they get into a rhythm.
Then there's the dreaded - Anything CAN HAPPEN - which creeps in the back of your head, never going away because you're weekly reminded (North Dakota State! Jacksonville State!) that ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN!
Our beloved Huskers did okay, but not great, on last weeks' keys to victory. They didn't get the shut out that I asked for, and gave up a bunch of yards to Bobby Rainey. They gave up 75 yards in penalties, leaving them tied for 100th nationally in penalty yards, and didn't play that well defensively, finishing the first week 47th nationally in total defense.
As far as injuries go, it didn't feel good watching Cameron Meredith leave the game, but the Huskers suffered no permanent injuries (that we know of). That's the best news from last week, really, given what the team's been through already.
What's needed this week?
Really, more of the same of what I said last week.
Taylor Martinez scores a 46-yard touchdown on his first carry? No way that happens again, but it'd be a nice way to begin his second start. How ‘bout we make it easier and say something like - Nebraska scores on their first five possessions (nothing like setting the bar high), and a whole lotta guys get to play.
I like the idea of guys getting to play. I understand the concept of running backs getting carries to prepare themselves for the season, and a quarterback throwing passes to establish timing and rhythm, but I believe it's mostly bullshit. Everyone improves with experience and it'll only help if the coaches see more game experience out of more players regardless of where they are on the depth chart.
Starting fast applies to the defense as well. I don't care if their quarterback is from North Platte, if he has the nicest family in Nebraska, or what - but the defensive line needs to hit Enderle early and often. The Husker defense was spoiled last year by a line that could pressure quarterbacks all by themselves - this is the game where they prove they can do the same thing this year.
Crisp and Clean
Let's knock off the penalties. You hear it time and time again - a low number of penalties is the sign of a well-coached team. So far that hasn't applied to Bo Pelini at Nebraska, but if Husker fans expect that great things can happen this season, the penalties must be eliminated.
Crisp and clean applies to focus as well. The Huskers jumped out fast against Western Kentucky, then fell flat, especially on defense. Pundits might claim that lower tier opponents don't prepare teams for big games (a point that's hard to argue with), but they may provide a coach with the opportunity to emphasize the qualities of focus and, as it says on Pelini's twitter bio - "The secret to success is constancy of purpose".
Establish The Starters
I'm not convinced that Bo Pelini knows who's starting for the Washington game, and he's true to his "competitive" philosphy then neither does he. This game should allow the coaches to determine their depth chart heading to Seattle. Those should be the guys that show up ready to play, stay focused, and do their jobs throughout the entire game.
Teams are supposed to show marked improvement from the first game to second. Lavonte David and Alonzo Whaley should be comfortable with the fact that they're starting linebackers. Offensive linemen should be settling into their rotations - time to see some good holes blown open by Jeremiah Sirles and Keith Williams.
It's time to get it going. This week should be another blow out. Then it's time for the first road game fo the season. I don't have to remind you about last year's first road game. Nobody wants that to happen again this year. Conference play isn't too far away.