No turnovers. Turnover the ball on the road and we lose, simple as that. We do not want to give the Aggies a short field. Nebraska has had 19 fumbles this season, losing 12, an average of more than one per game. That puts us around 104th in the nation in fumbles lost, a place we obviously do NOT want to be. A fumble cost us the game against Texas, and could have cost us the game against Mizzou had they not been nice enough to give the ball right back.
We cannot afford to do the same against Texas A&M. Because both teams will want to run the ball, the game will be shortened and possessions limited. Giving up the ball, thus killing a drive, potentially allowing the crowd back into the game in this situation could be disastrous.
Stop the Run
Obvious choice isn't it? The Aggies are a run-first team. One of the ways you can stop the run is by moving safeties up so that you have more guys in run support than they can block. This has been a hard choice all season because of our weak secondary. You play up, defend the run or you play back and defend the pass. We definitely want to force A&M quarterback Stephen McGee to beat us throwing the ball, not by running.
Last week against Mizzou we saw Freshman Major Culbert move up in run support. It worked well because he's a good tackler, but tackling Chase Daniel is different than tackling 274 lb Jorvorskie Lane. It's good to know that Culbert can play in that situation, but this week we should have a healthy set of linebackers that can take on the triple-headed monster of McGee, Goodson and Lane. Have the safeties support the run, and allow the corners to play pass defense. We should be at that point, shouldn't we?
Pound the Rock?
Texas A&M's rushing defense has given up some sizable chunks of yardage in the ground game. Against Tech, one of their losses, they gave up 250 yards on the ground while giving up only a little over 100 in the air. They gave up nearly 300 yards on the ground to Baylor - one of the worst rushing offenses in the nation. Last week against Mizzou we moved some guys around on the offensive line. There hasn't been a lot of talk anywhere about what the offensive line will look like this week, I am assuming everyone thinks it will remain the same. Don't bet on it. With the youth we saw last week mixed with the guys that are already playing, you're looking at a pretty large number of swappable, and experienced lineman.
Given all that, we won't win this game by just running the ball. Look for a 60/40 run/pass ratio, short and intermediate routes, and we should be fine as long as that line holds up well. If the play calling is mixed, we should be fine.
We're going to Kyle Field, a traditionally tough place to play. I don't believe the Huskers want to just beat Colorado and take the Big 12 North, they want to beat a Southern team and go into the Big 12 Championship game with a good deal of confidence and momentum. Both teams will run the ball at the other, shortening the game. Like so many, it will come down to turnovers and that favors the Aggies. Playing at Kyle Field favors the Aggies. Nearly everything favors the Aggies with the exception that Coach Fran is 1-11 against Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Nebraska (I had to find a reason other than just being a homer, didn't I?)
Nebraska 24, Texas A&M 21