Turning a New Leaf: Nebraska Vs. UL-Lafayette
As much as I would love to continue with the would've, could've, should've feelings swirling about my mind as I think more about the Virginia Tech game and how we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory again.
It is time to turn a new leaf, this isn't about the much avoidable loss to VT, it is about an up and coming pay-per-view match-up against yet another Sun Belt foe in the Louisiana Lafayette Ragin Cajuns...I'm a Ragin Cajun semi-fan, seeing as my favorite NFL team is the Panthers and Jake Delhomme is a Ragin Cajun alum, but I see no problem for the 'Skers in this one:
Offense: One of the most explosive run teams in the Sun Belt last season UL-Lafayette lost it's career leading rusher Tyrell Fenroy and mobile quarterback Michael Desormeaux. They needed to replace these two players to do well this season. In three games the Ragin Cajun's have had arguably one of their best OOC schedule results in the school's history.
With a win against previous Big 12 opponent Kansas State on a last second drive that culminated in a 17-15 victory for the Cajuns. They traveled to LSU and looked stagnant on offense scoring only 3 points while giving up 31. But they did show flashes of that old Pound 'Em mentality and first year starter Chris Masson has a cannon arm.
The pieces are there for the Cajuns. They have an experienced Offensive Line and talent at both the quarterback and running back level. But three interceptions in three games for Chris Masson needs to be rectified and while the running of Undrea Sails has been consistent it needs to show more big play ability.
They will have a tall order in using their running attack to beat a Nebraska team that held a potent Virginia Tech running attack in check for only 86 yards.
Defense: Last season no one could tell which was worse...the Cajun rushing defense or the Cajun passing defense. They averaged giving up over 200 yards in both facets. While the experience is better on that side of the ball, the talent level still leaves much to be desired.
They will be asked to stop a Nebraska offense that put up over 200 yards rushing on a hyped-up Virginia Tech defense on Saturday. The key will be stopping running back Roy Helu who has compiled two 150+ yard games this season.
But if they take this approach they will be leaving Zac Lee and his receivers all alone on the outsides and Mike McNeill in the seams. They will need flawless execution in this game with constant pressure on Lee and stuffing the running game of Roy Helu and Rex Burkhead if they think they will have a chance.
Offense: While there was a major bright spot on offense last week, Roy Helu Jr. proved that he could run on anybody anytime anywhere with an amazing 170 yard performance against one of the best Defenses in the ACC, there were also more question marks resurfacing.
Once again, questions about Lee's ability to thrive under pressure and when it counted, wide receivers dropping key passes and O-linemen making mistakes when it hurt the team the most.
The word of the day for the Husker offense last week was implosion. They imploded in almost every aspect on a first and goal at the six yard line but did prove they could move the ball between the 20s against anybody. Now they just need to re-find the end zone that came so easy in the first two games (12 touchdowns).
What better place to start than against another Sun Belt opponent? UL-Lafayette will get a heavy dose of Helu, and some crisper passes from Zac Lee who will be out to prove he is still a great college quarterback despite going 11-30 last week (at least four dropped passes by the receivers, two in the end zone).
I think they pick apart the secondary and take frustrations out on a relatively weak D-Line. This is going to be a big day for the Husker offense trying to get back on track. And with Coach Watson saying things like Lee has been practicing better than he has all year it makes me think that the offense is on a mission to not let a Virginia Tech debacle happen again.
Defense: They held a mediocre offense to 16 points, looked amazing in corralling one of the best dual threat quarterbacks in the game, and after the first half held the running game of VT not only in check but kept it virtually non-existent. The effort and talent is there for this group to be great, the execution leaves a little something to be desired.
Teams will make plays, but great defenses come up big when they need to. And they didn't last week, but I think they turned a corner. Crick, Allen, Turner and Suh looked like the four horseman that everyone thought they would be at the beginning of the season. Linebacker play looked good most of the game with Sean Fisher, Compton and believe it or not Phillip Dillard making key tackles in the game.
The secondary has its holes but Asante and Amukamara are up and coming stars for this season. Look for them to be angry this week and shut down the big two for the Ragin Cajuns.
Final: While the Ragin Cajuns did beat a Big 12 team this year, it was Kansas State most likely the worst Big 12 team in the conference who was one play away from losing to UMass and starting 0-3.
Nebraska will be angry, determined and crisp in this game. I truly think the Virginia Tech game is a corner turning game and hearing reports of what the first unit looked like on Monday in practice leaves me to believe this team is going to react in a positive way.
UL-Lafayette does not have enough depth, endurance, skill, or experience on their side to compete in this one. Nebraska wins big with a resurgence from Lee and Paul and another big day from do-it-all Roy Helu Jr.:
45 - 10 'Skers
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