Huskers To Face A Good Kansas State Defense in Conference Opener

Leland JohnsonContributor IOctober 6, 2010

Bill Synder will have his team ready for Nebraska
Bill Synder will have his team ready for NebraskaBrian Bahr/Getty Images

We should learn more about Nebraska's ability to perform on the road this season after Thursday nights conference opener against Kansas State.  Will the Huskers play like they did in their first road test, putting up 56 points against Washington?  Or will they look lethargic again as they did for homecoming and South Dakota State.  Whichever team shows up, they will face a formidable Kansas State defense that is ranked 4th in points allowed in the Big 12. 

K-State has allowed only a pair of touchdowns in their last two games.  Lead by LB Alex Hrebec with 39 tackles the K-State defense has given up plenty of yards to opposing teams, but have been tough when their backs are against the wall.  "We don't want anyone to score on us," Defensive end Antoino Felder told The Mercury, "When they get anywhere close to the red zone, you have to step up.  It's a must."

Brandon Herald is the other defensive end Nebraska's quarterback Taylor Martinez is going to want to keep his eyes on.  He shouldn't be difficult to spot, as Herald is 6'5" 285 lb sophomore with a very aggressive demeanor.  On a single play against Iowa State, he sacked Austin Arnaud, forced him to fumble, and then recovered it for K-State.  

I would expect K-State to borrow from South Dakota State and double up defenders on Nebraska's Martinez.  If they can force him to distribute the ball either on the zone read or through the air and keep his ground game contained, it should help keep them keep the game close.  That's assuming those other guys he distributes the ball to don't tear it up.  Having guys like Roy Helu Jr., Rex Burkhead, and Brandon Kinnie with the ball in their hands could add up to some real trouble for any defense.

Throughout their history K-State has shown up to play Nebraska tough.  It may not show in the score all the time, but it always turns into a physical game.  Expect some tricks from Coach Snyder and if they catch Nebraska napping on Thursday night, they might just remain undefeated.