"Stopping Braxton Miller" - it's the biggest question on every Husker fans' mind this week. There are, generally speaking, two attitudes about what to do about Miller; pressure him or try to contain him.
Ask a hundred football fans and ninety of them would say they prefer pressure. Nothing drives fans more insane that watching a quarterback stand in the pocket or scramble around for five to seven seconds until they find an open receiver.
For most football teams, "pressure" is just another way of saying blitz, since most teams cannot get pressure on a quarterback using only their front four. That will be true for Nebraska against Ohio State's offensive line despite how well Eric Martin has been doing as of late.
Take it as a given that the Huskers will need to blitz. The next question is - who and where? Do you trust bringing Will Compton up the middle, or will that just open the middle of the field and another running lane? Your answer to that depends on how athletic and good at tackling you take Compton to be.
If not Compton and the middle, then where? Daimion Stafford or P.J. Smith from the safety position will leave your corners one-on-one against receivers Devon Smith or Corey Brown. You're trying to make the choice here about whether you're willing to give up a big play or whether quick pressure on Miller will force him into a mistake as he can't get through his progressions.
The best answer - make your blitzes timely and varied. And fans should look forward to plenty of contain early in the game while John Papuchis and Bo Pelini work on what Urban Meyer is trying to do offensively - where he wants to attack the Nebraska defense.
Stoneburner is a Problem....
There are other match ups that create problems. One in particular to worry about is tight end Jake Stoneburner. Stoneburner is 6' 6" and 245 pounds, and considered one of the better college tight ends in regards to the 2013 NFL Draft.
Stoneburner presents a quandary. If he gets lined up where linebackers Sean Fisher or Alonzo Whaley have to cover him, Nebraska will have problems. If you line him up against a defensive back like Ciante Evans, Stoneburner will run over Evans in the run game. Perhaps Stanley Jean-Baptiste is a good match up here.
LAY ON HIM!
During last week's Ohio State -Michigan State game, Spartan defensive lineman William Gholston was briefly knocked unconscious, and in the process laid on top of Miller for
This technique proved to be fairly effective, as Miller was not going anywhere until Gholston was removed from on top of him. He was rendered immobile. Unfortunately, the game clock was not running at the time.
Sarcasm aside, there's a real point to be made here.
Look at that hit again. While Miller does an excellent job of avoiding the big hit by Isaiah Lewis coming over the top, he's still keeping the ball on the option and rather than sliding to avoid the big hit, he's spinning and diving.
Bottom line - Miller has not yet learned what Taylor Martinez now knows very well - when your football team is dependent upon you to produce a winning and successful season, it's best to be sliding when you can.
If Miller continues to take hits this Saturday night like he did against Michigan State, he won't finish the game against Nebraska.
Will losing Miller produce a Nebraska win? You could make the argument that it did last year. Could Nebraska get so lucky again?