September 8, 2012; Pasadena, CA, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers cheerleaders perform during a stoppage in play during the second half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE
Man, do we need another football game to be played. Thank goodness this isn't a bye week. Arkansas State, in particular three-year starting quarterback Ryan Aplin, should have the Cornhuskers' undivided attention. This team got smacked up in Eugene the first game of the year, but that was to be expected. Now the Red Wolves' seventh ranked offense (in yardage per game) brings their spread attack to Lincoln. Here are some keys to the game for a Nebraska victory.
- TACKLE: Anyone. Anything. Just tackle. Tackle their damn mascot. Tackle the pylon. Tackle the water cooler. Just tackle something, for Barrett Ruud's sake. Is it a lack of speed? A lack of fundamentals? Take the right angle, bend the knees, keep the head up, wrap the arms around him, and drive him to the ground with your shoulder. If the tackling is as shoddy as it was in LA, this will be a track meet.
- Force their offense to be one dimensional: They have an incredibly balanced offense, averaging 271.5 ypg rushing and 303 ypg passing. Stuff the run and make Ryan Aplin beat you with his arm, which though he's capable of doing, will be much more difficult if our front seven can pin their ears back and get after him.
- Get a big play out of the Blackshirts: OK, maybe we can win this game without a game-changing play from the Blackshirts, but wouldn't it be a lot easier if we got a pick-six, or one of the big guys recovered a fumble and went rumblin', bumblin', stumblin' into the endzone? Nebraska's defense needs to take the game to them. In turn, that could result in more big plays.
- Bounce back: This is for the fans, coaches, and players. Don't come out with an LA hangover. Typically Bo Pelini's teams have been quite resilient in bouncing back from defeats. (Perhaps later in the year we can work on staying focused after big victories.) This is the type of team that can hang with the Huskers considering their proficient offense. If Nebraska comes out flat, Memorial Stadium won't have a very good vibe.
- Offensive rhythm: Develop it and maintain it from the opening kickoff. When Nebraska's offense is humming along with pace and rhythm, it is a beautiful thing to watch, and nearly impossible to slow down. Whether it was play calling, UCLA adjustments, or failed execution, the offense was out of sync in the second half last week. This shouldn't be a problem against the Red Wolves. In my opinion, Tim Beck regressed in his play calling in the second half last week; it was eerily familiar to a couple blow-outs last year (Wisconsin, South Carolina). Establish rhythm and let the multiple skill players make plays.