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Nebraska's Keys to Victory: San Jose State

Saturday’s game (11:37 A.M. kickoff so get the Bloody M’s out early) versus the San Jose State Spartans has a bit of a special meaning for me. While insignificant in strength of schedule stature, the Spartans were the very first game that my father and I got to see during a tear of season ticket runs starting a ways back in 2000. A young man by the name of Deonce Whittaker gave NU some fits that day, but a fond memory nevertheless.  

SJSU and New Mexico State couldn’t have been slated at a better time for Bo Pelini’s first year at Nebraska as several units appear to be MIA. There is talk of Rickey Thenarse taking over in a safety capacity but due to rumors of injury, I think that may be a game time decision. Andy Christensen was found not guilty in a case regarding inappropriate directions to the nearest Chipotle and Coach Pelini stated that things are pretty much up in the air on his return to the team.

Looking at the game against the Spartans just what does Nebraska need to do to consider the game a success?

- Looking at the fact that these same blue and yellow (gold?) warriors squeaked by the University of California-Davis 13-10, I would expect a decent to large margin of defeat, so I’m not going to concern myself with that. Check back with me on Sunday to see if I am, in fact, concerned with that. If NU can’t hang near half a hundred on SJSU or at least come close to a shutout something is amiss.

- Point A leads to Point B which leads to Point C. A large margin of victory could be on the arm of Joe Ganz, but it really shouldn’t be. The offensive line needs to show immediate improvement and actually allow Marlon Lucky to run between the tackles. Criticize #5 all you like, but it doesn’t matter how good you are in his situation. DeMarco Murray couldn’t make things happen with defenders two yards into the backfield after the snap. If NU finds a running game then watch out Spartan fans. Things could (and probably will) get ugly.

- Secondary play must improve. I’m not concerned with the cornerbacks as I feel the young guns will come along in due time, but safety play needs to be addressed and I feel that Bo more than likely got that message across to Coach Sanders. Call it a gut feeling. If Rickey can’t go look for Major Culbert to get some solid playing time. Ideally Thenarse can return by the time the Aggies of New Mexico State come to town. Matt O’Hanlon may find himself warming the bench unless absolutely necessary.

- Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Dobson couldn’t have been happy with the hands-on-hips look during the second half against WMU. Given Nebraska’s only one game into the season, but I found the second half and especially the fourth quarter distressing in terms of effort available to give in the first place. The pass rush shown in the first half naturally needs to translate over to the second and even if you know your assignments, being gassed will end success. I look for a marginal improvement this week as that sort of turn-around can’t be expected in a week’s time, but three quarters of solid performance isn’t asking too much. Heck, give me 2 ½ and sub some second stringers in.

- Speaking of which, I think it’s about time we got to see what the future Huskers that haven’t touched FieldTurf can do. Show me Sean Fisher, Pat Witt, maybe even Marcus Mendoza with some Will Compton on the side. You get what I’m saying. We’ve gotten past the first game, Nebraska is 1-0, it’s time to get the newbies experience good or bad if up by 28+.

- Is Cody Glenn the real deal or a flash in the pan? Obviously a key question on everyone’s mind going into the game, but I believe that Cody will be a holy terror all year long. Not to say he’ll always put up mind blowing stats, but his presence will be felt and he will need to be accounted for by opposing offensive coordinators.

In essence if Nebraska can establish some manner of running game going into NMSU along with shoring up safety play and staying fresh a bit longer, I think the Cornhuskers will not only be able to call the game a success, but a blowout margin of victory that will have the Big Red Backers smiling will be had even if frosting is left all over the field from this cupcake. 

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[Editor's Note - this was originally published earlier, but is moved up today because that's where it belongs. You guys like "key" articles on Friday, right? Well, here it is. ]