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Looking @ Nebraska Offense

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It's champeen-ship time.

I'll be in Dallas eating $24 nachos and watching Chi-Os cage dance just like the rest of you, but consider this your appetizer.

Throw out everything you saw in College Station because the Huskers are capable of duplicating exactly none of it. A&M ran the ball well against us, but that was a function of the success of their passing game and Jerrod Johnson's feet. Nebraska's game plan will be pretty simple: shorten the game by running the ball, play field position, hope for turnovers, and capitalize on Longhorn mistakes with calculated risks. You know - how Jeff Fisher likes to play unless Chris Johnson or Vince Young fucks it up by scoring a touchdown.

It's very unlikely NU pulls it off unless we retreat into some bizarre Davisian shell or Will Muschamp makes his defense lose their minds again. I find the former somewhat unlikely and the latter un-possible.

First, let's talk Husker O.

Offense

Their offense has the complexity and careful nuance of David Hasselhoff's acting. Nebraska started playing better football when they decided that they were going to run every down and throw the ball to Niles Paul down the field or dump it off to a open TE/RB in the flat about every six rushing attempts. Zac Lee no longer loses games for them and they're protecting their defense. They average only 346 yards per game and 25 ppg, but those numbers are a tad deceptive in that they're averaging a nearly-respectable 5.5 yards per play. The reason is pace. The most misunderstood aspect of offense in college football.

NU wants to run clock. Ideally, Pelini would like to do away with pre-game stretching, halftime, and most of the 4th quarter. He thinks a football game should last about as long as a Happy Days rerun. Dude yells at his backs and WRs when they run out of bounds on outs or sweeps. Basically, they want to play football with you in a broom closet because they know if they venture outside, they will eventually get exposed. And Mike Sherman may call the cops on them for playing in his front yard.

OL

It all starts with the OL and Nebraska actually fields some decent personnel here despite what their offensive woes suggest.

LT Mike Smith
LG Keith Williams
C Jacob Hickman
RG Ricky Henry
RT Marcel Jones/DJ Jones

The Huskers are inspired by the three-fifths compromise from the Philly Convention in 1787 in that they only count three of their OL as actual human beings. The left side of the OL and the center all range from good to average and Smith, Washington, Hickman can be nasty in the run game despite stacked fronts and NU QBs have only been sacked 15 times this year. Even with Nebraska's relatively sparse number of passing attempts, that's a respectable number.

The right side of the NU OL features RG Ricky Henry and the two-headed RT monster of DJ and Marcel Jones. They sort of suck. Nebraska knows this and likes to run 75% of their plays favoring their reliables. My simpleton's solution is that we don't align Kindle or Houston by strength or wide side but rather we glue them to the NU leftside personnel. The other possibility would be to play them on the weaker group of personnel, but shade the DL to NU's OL reliables. Anyway, lots of tinkering we could do to exploit this obvious tendency.

WR/TE

Otherwise known as Niles Paul (33-649, 19.7 avg) and a bunch of random assholes with first names like Menelik (very Children of the Corn) or Curenski. The cool thing about NU's WRs is that their shitty players have names that suggest their shittiness. It's kind of satisfying. Like meeting a hot girl and then finding out her name is Vixen Angeltits.

They like to throw it to their TE Mike McNeill (24-237-4) near the goalline and to convert short yardage situations and they'll flip it out to Helu and Burkhead as well. That's it folks. That's the Nebraska passing game. I will add that their WRs are huge (Holt is 6-4 220, Paul is 6-1 215) and are willing blockers. Niles Paul is the "speed guy" because he runs a 4.52.

RB/QB

Roy Helu (193-1057-10td, 5.5 avg) is a stud and I've been following him since I first heard about him in the Bay Area in his high school career. He's not that fast, but he's quick and nifty for a big back. He runs with power and he's strong in the hips and thighs. You have to wrap him up. He will take some shots as he's a taller back and can present a good hit profile when he doesn't get his pads down. So he gets nicked up quite a bit. Good hands.

Rex Burkhead is now the #2 RB and he'll spell Helu every few possessions. Great hands out of the backfield and he can throw the ball if Pelini wants to do a little trickeration. He's the Plano kid that dominated 5A football and had every Plano devotee vowing that Texas could never win another game unless Rex was a Longhorn. Burkhead runs hard and he's a good athlete so don't assume he's just a coach on the field making heady plays and spending long hours in the film room with a firm handshake. He's not a particular concern for us.

Rex appears to have beaten out fellow RBs Dontrayevous Robinson and Latravis Washington. That's got to be hard for dudes named Dontrayevous and Latravis to handle. I mean, his name is REX BURKHEAD. He sounds like a doctor on a soap opera.

QB Zac Lee. His numbers aren't actually that bad (260-158-1931-13-7), but they're a lie. On the road he's a 48% passer, averages 5.7 yards per attempt, and doubles his touchdowns with interceptions. Make no mistake, this will be a road environment for him. In response, he is shielded both by NU's staff and by a number of rape protection laws. He has gone fetal in half of Nebraska's games and has put together some atrocious stat lines that are covered over by whippings of powerhouses like Florida Atlantic and Arkansas St. He played decently against KU and KSU, I'll give him.

The guy is waiting for a good excuse to throw the game against us if we let him and 3rd and long should be a death sentence. If he makes a play in the passing game, it's going to be after some successful runs throwing to an open receiver.

He's not a running threat either.

Cody Green is and they'll put him in situationally. He can't throw, but he's a powerful runner and will give us some looks in the zone read. He'll be easy enough to adjust to when he enters the game as he's a package specific guy.

How Do We Attack Them

Show up. If they score more than 13 points on offense, I'll eat my hat.