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Nebraska - Keys to Victory over Wyoming

I know what you're thinking. ONE WEEK TO WISCONSIN! WOOHOOO!! There'll be lots of people tweeting "I can't wait" this entire week. I'll admit to a pet peeve here - that kind of mentality, even if it seems innocuous, has always bugged me.

"I can't wait".

Hey. Don't wish your life away so easily. We're in the here and now, man. And right here and now you should be thinking about the Wyoming Cowboys, and how the hell you're going to watch the game on Versus. You've figured that out, right? No?

Oh, dude.

About those Wyoming Cowboys. Wyoming fans are excited about this game. It's a chance to see where their team stands against one of the best in the nation. You can bet that translates directly to their players. I'm betting it turns out to be a much more interesting game than any of us expect. 

On to the keys! 

As always, turnovers are a given. Losing that battle nearly always contributes to losses.

Get the Young Backs Running

For those who may be lamenting Rex Burkhead's lack of influence on the offense so far this season, consider this - Wyoming is the last game before Nebraska hits the big time.  It's not as important that Burkhead gets a ton of carries and a 100-yard game just to make everyone feel better about his stats. Burkhead is dependable - you know he'll be ready to go when Big Ten plays starts.

Is there a solid number two amongst the young backs? May be, but if there is, there's been little indication. Aaron Green has looked pretty good so far, and Braylon Heard has had some chances, but at this point there's no clear number two. One might hope that solid backup is discovered before next week, if not by fans, hten by the coaches (realistically, it's probably already Aaron Green, but hey, I'm trying to make a point here).

The running game is dependent upon an effective offense line, so it's just as important that the line rotation is established after this game. Last week they performed much better - against Wyoming the improvement should continue.

Establish The Secondary

Sticking with that one week left concept, it's time to get the defensive secondary in order. To this point the Huskers have struggled somewhat in pass protection, ranked 78th nationally in passing yardage per game, and 49th in pass efficiency defense ( Those aren't your typical Pelini Blackshirt numbers.

Alfonzo Dennard will get in some plays this weekend - it's imperative he get some time in before next week. He's not a panacea for the secondary - the same problem exists for the secondary that exists for the young running backs and offensive line - positions need to be solidified going into Wisconsin next week. If there's perhaps a sign the coaches are still searching for the magic combination, this week Stanley Jean-Baptiste switched from wide receiver to cornerback. (Or maybe that's a positive sign that Kenny Bell and Jamal Turner have assumed control of the receiver positions. Stay positive. Go negative. Your choice.)

Wyoming's spread offense should provide an interesting challenge to the defense. The Cowboys don't just sling the ball around, but keep a fairly even balance between pass and run, having thrown 112 times, as compared to 122 times they've rushed the ball.

Don't Treat This Game Like I Just Did

If you polled Husker fans (oh, yeah, we did!), you find that most expect this to be a fairly easy game for the Big Red.

Not so fast, my friend!

Remember a couple of years ago when Texas visited Wyoming and struggled with the Cowboys into the second half?

Part of that might be blamed on the altitude, but part of that struggle was likely due to the Longhorns thinking the same way Nebraska may be thinking - this is an easy win, Wyoming isn't that good, it'll be a scrimmage, we'll just head up there to Laramie, kick their ass, have some foods, see some different country and go home with a easy victory.

Coaches try to prevent that kind of thinking, but honestly, there's not much they can do. It's up to the players to play to their highest ability and execute the plays as called. We'll know how that's going by the number of penalties the offense picks up early in the game. 

Bottom line - take Wyoming lightly and the Huskers will be coming back to Lincoln to some consterned fans, if not with a loss (anything can happen). Fact is, this Nebraska team hasn't done enough to prove that they're that great a team in the first place. Perhaps a complete game wouldn't be too much to ask for before they head to Madison, but they'll need an even head to do it. 


There. I did my part.