15 October 2010
It's almost time folks, the grudge match between the Horns and Huskers is just a little over 24 hours away. What was built up before the season as an epic match-up, perhaps the biggest of the college football season, has lost some luster after Texas two losses. That said, it's still a huge game with an endless supply of storylines, and is perhaps the last between these two teams in the foreseeable future as the Huskers head to the Big 10.
Can the Longhorns pull off the upset and find some redemption for their early season performances and send their conference record against the Huskers to 9-1? Read on to find out.
When Texas has the ball:
The Longhorns have tried transforming themselves into more of a power running team, something that has failed miserably to this point. Against Nebraska we should see something similar to what we saw the last few seasons under Colt McCoy. Expect a lot of shotgun, and don't be surprised if you see Garrett Gilbert take off a little more as opposed to checking down for a two or three yard pass. The coaches think Gilbert can get more plays out of his feet than he has so far.
Mack Brown and offensive coordinator Greg Davis said this week that Gilbert has played better in the second half of games when they've been less conservative, so look for them to be more aggressive from the get-go.
When Nebraska has the ball:
The Nebraska offense morphed from an inept unit last season into one of the most dangerous in the nation this season. The key to that has been the emergence of redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez. To this point Martinez is averaging 10.8 yards per rush- that's a first down every time he keeps the ball- and has been efficient throwing the ball as well.
Thanks to Martinez, the Huskers have the second-best rushing attack in the country. Running backs Roy Helu, Jr. and Rex Burkhead have benefited from the running of Martinez the same way that Cedric Benson and Jamaal Charles did playing with Vince Young.
Keys to a Texas victory:
1. The Horns must come out aggressive and dump the horizontal passing game. They have started each game to this point conservatively, thus the offense has failed to get into rhythm. Greg Davis needs to come out guns-a-blazing with his play calling and allow Garrett Gilbert to throw the ball down field. Sustained drives will be hard to come by against the Nebraska defense so hitting a few big plays is a must.
2.Defensively they must play good assignment football on the read/option or Martinez and company will shred them. Another performance like they had against UCLA and it will be a very ugly game. They should keep the defensive ends wide and try to force him into give/pitch reads to keep the ball out of his hands as much as possible. Martinez hasn't faced a defense with this kind of speed and aggressiveness and rattling him early could change the complexion of the game.
3. DON'T MAKE MISTAKES and win the turnover battle. Texas has shot themselves in the foot all season. To have a chance to beat Nebraska they must play a clean game. Nebraska has fumbled the ball quite a few times, and it would be huge to jump on a couple of fumbles in Husker territory on Saturday.
The path to a Texas victory includes big plays, a strong defensive performance, not extending Nebraska drives with penalties, and winning the turnover battle. Unfortunately, until the Horns prove they can play a clean game, I don't see it happening.
Final Score: Nebraska 28, Texas 13
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