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Road games are always a test of communication skills. For Nebraska, it will be an even bigger test if veteran quarterback Taylor Martinez is still out with an injury.
Junior wide receiver Kenny Bell summed it up best during the Huskers' weekly press conference, via Huskers.com:
It’s going to be difficult. You might see us struggle at the beginning of the game with communication. I don’t know if Taylor (Martinez) is going this week or not, but if he’s not, that communication will be a little bit different. We’ve been with Taylor for so long that it’ll take us some time to adjust.
Head coach Bo Pelini is confident Martinez will travel regardless. However, the communication will still be tested if redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong starts. New to starting, Armstrong and the Husker offense will have no choice but to communicate and adjust.
Failure to do so will make this game more difficult than necessary.
2. Run the Ball
Whether the wind forced the game plan or not, offensive coordinator Tim Beck found his group's identity against Illinois. What exactly is the Nebraska identity?
It's on the ground.
With I-Back Ameer Abdullah leading the way, Nebraska had 50 rushing attempts to only 20 passing attempts against the Illini. Abdullah rushed for a career-high 225 yards and two touchdowns as a part of that.
Pelini confirmed during the postgame press conference that he believed Beck's game plan was good.
Going forward, Beck needs to abide by what works. Passing the ball when needed is fine to shake things up. However, the Huskers saw one of their most fluid games against Illinois.
Why fix what isn't broke?
3. Adjust When Needed
Another highlight from Nebraska's matchup with Illinois was the ability to adjust.
Open gaps at the beginning of the game were corrected by the end. More pressure was forced up front, which allowed Nebraska to sack Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase twice.
Late in the first quarter, Nebraska's defense highlighted its ability to adjust. After Husker defensive end Jason Ankrah sacked Scheelhaase on the previous play, Illinois faced a 4th-and-11 situation. Scheelhaase stayed in the game, forcing Pelini to call a timeout.
During that timeout, Pelini made the proper adjustments. When Scheelhaase launched the ball to wide receiver Steve Hull, Nebraska cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste hit Hull from behind, jolting the ball free.
Had Pelini not made the adjustment, that series could have easily continued for Illinois.
Going forward, Nebraska must continue to make necessary adjustments. It will be crucial to win.