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Nebraska Previews Kansas State

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Thanks to The Elusive Shadow for the questions and the guys at Corn Nation for the Nebraska analysis.

1.  Kansas State has had trouble stopping the pass this year.  Can Nebraska take advantage of this, or do you think the Huskers are better off concentrating on the run?

Mike:  Nebraska's had problems passing this season, mostly against BCS competition.  Some blame goes to Zac Lee, but most of it goes to the wide receivers, who weren't trying to get open, weren't running good routes, and then dropping the ball if they managed to do the first two things right.  Two receivers got busted down to the scout team, and have been replaced by tight ends, a JUCO transfer (Brandon Kinnie), and a redshirt freshman who plays center field for the baseball team (Khiry Cooper).  So while this week might be an opportunity to work out some kinks in the passing game, Nebraska should concentrate on the run primarily.

JLew: I think the Huskers will do what they did against KU, use the run to set up the pass. Get Lee going early up the confidence, then go play action as needed. I think that against the Cat D-backs even NU's receivers should be able to get open. Niles Paul had a really good game against KU, showing some of the potential that we thought the had, look to him to continue to develop.

Corn Blight/Jon J: The Husker offense finally clicked against Kansas, so what we’ll be watching for is consistency in running the ball, and Niles Paul on the play action. Look for Roy Helu to have 150 yards rushing and a couple touchdowns.



2.  Daniel Thomas is one of the leading rushers in the nation.  How worried are you that he can have a big day against Nebraska's defense?

Mike: Slightly, as I think the Blackshirts have been burned at times by running backs.  Problem is that most of that is because teams like Arkansas State and Texas Tech tried to run out of the spread and were able to exploit large gaps.  Thomas concerns me more if he operates out of the Wildcat formation as a passing threat.

JLew: I think NU will be ready. KSU keeps it simple. I think they are going to try and run right at NU. Without a passing attack NU can key on the run.

CB:  Nebraska has one of the best run defenses in the nation, so they should handle KSU’s run game. Kansas caused problems with misdirection, and Todd Reesing did his best impersonation of his old self running quarterback draws and extending pass plays scrambling. KSU doesn’t have Reesing, and only one threat at receiver, so our defense shouldn’t have much problems with the Wildcat offense regardless of what they do. 


3.  What do you think Nebraska should do about return man Brandon Banks?

Mike:  Make sure he's returning kickoffs only.

JLew: Have a safety plant him coming across the middle.

CB: Tackle him deep in his own territory? One guy that hasn’t been mentioned here is Husker kicker Adi Kunalic, who’s third in the nation in both touchbacks and touchback percentage. Banks can be neutralized by not allowing him to have the ball (Captain Obvious!).



4.  Any other area of concern against Kansas State?

Mike:  I'm more concerned about Nebraska playing well.  This is a team that should have beaten Virginia Tech on the road and did beat Oklahoma at home.  Kansas State is second in the conference in turnover margin, and they can make the Huskers pay for any mistakes.

JLew: Like Mike says take care of the ball, don't get too excited for Senior Night and let the game come to them.

CB:  That Bill Snyder uses his Jedi mind powers to convince Offensive Coordinator Shawn Watson into running all spread plays with three or four receivers, resulting in way too much passing, dropped balls, turnovers and a short field for Kansas.

That and I’ve heard rumors that KSU geneticists are working hard on a solution to keep Snyder alive forever.



5.  If Nebraska wins, what do you think their chances are against Texas?

Mike: 
If you look just at the record, you'd have to say not good.  But the Big XII Championship Game has not been good to national title contenders.  James Brown and the flu ended Nebraska's dreams of a third straight national title in 1996.  In 1998, Texas A&M took out Kansas State.   In 2001, Colorado knocked out Texas to clear a spot for Nebraska in the Rose Bowel.  In 2003, Kansas State shocked the college football world by dominating consensus #1 Oklahoma.  Add in how strong Nebraska has been defensively this season, you never know what might happen.

JLew: A punchers shot. The great thing about having a D like NU's is that you have a chance in every game. Pelini's teams improve throughout the season, and peak at the right time. Last year NU ended the year with a great win in the Gator Bowl. Let's just say that payback for 1996 has been mentioned a time or two among Husker fans.

CB: Ask me after the Kansas State game. Right now I don’t care what we may or may not do against Texas. It’s that chickens and hatch thing.