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Nebraska's Keys to Victory Over Baylor

I hate the idea of a "must win" game but if there's been one in the past few seasons, this is it. Lose to Baylor and you can kiss Nebraska's goal of winning the Big 12 North good bye. I'm sure that's on the minds of many Husker fans today, so the best advice I can give you is to stop having expectations and just let things happen. Enjoy the ride, one way or another and have some faith that things will work out okay. 

I feel pretty positive about this game, which isn't that difficult to understand because it's Baylor. What is easy to forget that Nebraska was 4-3 at this same time last season yet went on to have a pretty good year. The same thing can happen this year, perhaps Baylor is the game where it all comes together.  

There is good news. I stated last week that we would continue to make "Eliminate The Stupid" a key until the team, particularly the offensive line, would eliminate mistakes. Discounting the turnovers (as if that can be done), the offensive line committed only three penalties and if they can keep that up they'll be fine. 

Nothing not obvious - the rest of the offense needs to find itself in a hurry. 

BTW, if you expect "turnovers" to be one of the keys, you'll be disappointed. Despite the huge swing in turnover margin because of last week, turnovers are a given in every game. Nebraska gave up a ton all at once, while Baylor hasn't gained even one in Big 12 play. 

Find A Leader

Bo Pelini talked this past week about finding a spark on offense and the need for someone to step up. He's also talked about a lot of changes on offense. Last week as one of the keys I mentioned finding the right combination of players. You might say we're searching for playmakers, but that would only be partially correct. What we're searching for is someone who wants to lead. 

Not all playmakers are leaders, but all leaders are playmakers. They're the guys who make the tough catches on third down to keep the offense going or make an extra block to spring someone else for a long gain. They're the guys who the team looks to for strength and confidence when everyone's is wavering. Name the Nebraska player who does this on offense and you quickly understand what's missing because there isn't one. 

With so many balls being dropped by receivers last week, Khiry Cooper will get his first start this week. That should be a sign we'll see more of Brandon Kinnie and Antonio Bell. If the older guys aren't going to become leaders, then it's time to find someone in the younger ranks. 

Husker running back Roy Helu looked like he might fit the role, but last week only had a few carries and two fumbles. Helu said he wasn't injured. Pelini said he wasn't injured. Fans continue to disbelieve the both of them and in the process make excuses for Helu because they know the spark he can bring to the game, or because they believed that he would lead the offense and it's clear now that he will not. Given that, we'll be seeing more of Dontrayevous Robinson this week, maybe with more of Marcus Mendoza and either Lester Ward or Collins Okakor. Again, time to find "the guy". 

Note that this isn't all about t the starting quarterback. The starting quarterback position has become somewhat of a sideshow, but whether it's Cody Green or Zac Lee doesn't matter, both are simply included amongst the possibilities.

Wear ‘Em Out 

The concept of establishing an offensive identity has been worn out this season. Even the playcalling has been inconsistent, leading to Nebraska's inability to establish a dominant running game. We've been repeatedly told that defenses have stacked the line, yet near the end of the Missouri game we saw an offense that sealed the game with a strong drive based on the run. 

Baylor is still Baylor in the fact that they don't have solid depth across the entire team. Wouldn't it be nice to see a strong running game (not necessarily a power running game, mind you) that could sustain drives, picking up third downs, and eventually wearing a weaker Bear team out by the end of the game? 

It would warm the hearts of Husker fans everywhere. Make it happen without excuses about what the defense did or didn't give you. 

No Big Plays On Defense 

Nothing fancy here. The defense holds Baylor to less than ten point by eliminating the big play. Two of Nebraska's losses can be attributed to single mistakes. The Virginia Tech game came down to an 84-yard pass play in which Hokie receiver Danny Coale got behind Matt O'Hanlon. Iowa State scored their sole touchdown because of a 47-yard pass play from Jerome Tiller to Jake Williams when Eric Hagg got turned around and couldn't find the ball. That happened one play after the Huskers gave up 20 yards and a first down on a fake punt by Iowa State. 

The defense is playing very well, but given how poor the offense has done they have no margin for error. Stop giving up the big plays and the Huskers win all their games the rest of the season. Is that too much to ask? 

A question for all y'all - what do you want to see happen most?