Thursday, September 02, 2010

NU Pre-View:Happy-Sad, Western Kentucky

For fans of the Nebraska Cornhuskers looking ahead to the game against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (September 04, 2010, Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, NE, 6:00 p.m. CDT, PPV) ...


NUMBER 5 IS NUMBER 1: Perhaps throwing a bone to the media he locked out of practice in August, Bo Pelini has refused to name a starting quarterback going into the first game of the season. This has certainly made for good copy, but it seems pretty clear that Pelini knows who he's handing the keys to at the start. For 'Husker fans, they should be rooting for Zac Lee, the senior and returning starter. If the starting nod goes to either sophomore Cody Green or redshirt freshman Taylor Martinez, it's hard to see that decision as anything other than an indictment of Lee's ability to win the job. It also makes it very hard to go back to Lee and have any confidence in his ability to lead the team.

IT'S A HALFTIME COVER: The sooner Nebraska gets the game under control, the sooner the contest can be treated less like an actual game and more like a pre-season NFL contest. It's incumbent, then, on the first-teamers to get the job done early and remove any doubt from the outcome. If they're able to get that done by the end of the first half, NU will not only get a confidence boost but be able to get some preparation work in for the rest of the season.

THE BENCH CLEARS: No, this isn't a reference to a baseball fight (or, more accurately, the slapfest that passes for a fight in baseball). If NU is able to get ahead early in the contest, Pelini should be able to get a number of second- and third-team players into the game in the second half, giving those players valuable experience and protecting the starters from injury.


THE BLACKSHIRTS STRUGGLE WITH THE SLIPPERY: The Hilltoppers' quarterback, Kawaun Jakes, is an effective runner as well as having a serviceable arm. Nebraska fans are all aware of the struggles Pelini's teams have had in the past with mobile quarterbacks. Factor in WKU's diminutive Bobby Rainey (5'8") at running back, and the Hilltoppers will present at least a little elusiveness. If the Blackshirts struggle with WKU's slipperiness, it could be a bad omen for things to come.

THE ROCK IS NOT POUNDED: More than likely, Nebraska is planning to shuttle all three quarterbacks into the mix, and wants to keep the offense vanilla to minimize the preparation time needed and to keep the meatier opponents on the schedule guessing. That means we should see a heavy dose of running backs Roy Helu, Jr., Rex Burkhead, Dontrayveous Robinson, and the rest of the crew. Anything less than a 60/40 run-pass ratio will unnecessarily lengthen the game and expose the squad to more injury risk.

NU FANS GET TOO EXCITED: Remember, 'Husker fans, this is Western Kentucky that is coming to town. WKU was 0-12 last year, and is in only their third season as an FBS school. It is likely that Nebraska will roll, and that just about everyone wearing scarlet and cream will look good. Don't read too much into that. Remember how dominant NU's offense looked against Florida Atlantic and Louisiana last year? Ultimately, we are not going to learn very much that's positive about the 2010 Cornhuskers in this game. It's possible we could learn some negatives if NU struggles, but the concrete positives will be tough to come by.


NU, as Barry Switzer would say, just has better players than WKU, and should be able to name their score. Given that NU will want to give all three quarterbacks a chance to shine, there's less likelihood that the 'Huskers will call the dogs off if the score gets out of hand, meaning a real lopsided number is entirely possible. Nebraska 66, Western Kentucky 10.

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