LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMBER 15: Members of the flag core display a flag after a touchdown by the Nebraska Cornhuskers during their game at Memorial Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Obviously this is a money game for both schools. I don't totally bemoan the practice. Ideally Nebraska wouldn't play teams from the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) (what the hell was ever wrong with just calling it Division 1-AA?), but we all know money drives the train. Both athletic directors have budgets to meet. Weight rooms, practice facilities, and stadium expansions don't just pop up out of the ground.
Given a choice between a glorified scrimmage and a bye week, I'll take the scrimmage. It's another opportunity to tailgate, fill Memorial Stadium, take in the pageantry, take little Johnny or Susie to a game, and hopefully scan the roster sheet for some unknown walk-on or little used scholarship player after a big play. And if you're following the jump to see what Nebraska's Keys to Victory vs. Idaho State are, well, you just may be one of the "greatest fans in all of college football".
- Take care of business: Not to demean the opponent, but this means show up with a workmanlike attitude and take care of business. Put this game away in the second quarter. No sloppy special teams, no defensive breakdowns, and for goodness sakes, no three and outs on offense. If the Cornhuskers don't accomplish this, the next four keys may be irrelevant.
- Let Rex Burkhead get a little rhythm going: I sure wouldn't play him much in this game, but I think it would be to his benefit and the team's benefit for him to "scratch that itch" a little bit, take and deliver a couple hits, and tune him up for the game under the lights next week.
- Protect Taylor Martinez and play Ron Kellogg III in the first half: This is the responsibility of the coaches and pass protectors. I sure wouldn't run many zone reads, quarterback draws, option plays, or deep, long-developing seven step drops with Taylor Martinez. Let the running backs take the hits. Let Ron Kellogg III play early and let him utilize much of the playbook. The last thing we need is a gimpy starting quarterback to begin conference play.
- Work on the pass defense: Idaho State likes to pass the ball, and they are very capable of doing so. Their quarterback Kevin Yost has been efficient and their top wide receiver Derek Graves has 30 catches in two games. Continue to work on the tackling fundamentals, a four-man pass rush, and a smothering secondary. The Blackshirts will have to significantly improve their run-stopping beginning next week, but this opponent shouldn't offer much of a test in that regard.
- Empty the bench: What a great opportunity for the coaching staff to evaluate the game day presence of younger players, walk-ons, and seldom used scout team players. What a great opportunity to reward all the hard work of the lower string players. If there's a senior who hasn't ever seen the field, get him in.