Nebraska-Kansas: A Look Ahead and a Look Behind
Husker fans don't want to look back on the Kansas game from last year. I sure don't. But I think it's important to see what we did wrong against Kansas last year so we can know what do right for Saturday's game.
Last season Kansas rolled over the Huskers, 76-39, as the Jayhawks marched to 9-0 and were ranked No. 8 in the country. It was the most points Nebraska's defense had ever allowed in 117 years of football.
Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing picked Nebraska's defense apart, completing 73 percent of his passes for 354 yards and six touchdowns (no interceptions).
On the other side of the coin, Nebraska quarterback Joe Ganz, starting his first game for the Huskers after previous starter Sam Keller was injured against Texas, did not have a great day. He gained 405 passing yards and tossed four touchdowns, but he completed only 50 percent of his passes and threw four interceptions.
In short, the Huskers just looked bad. Nebraska would go on to shatter the record for points allowed in a season for the program, while Kansas broke several records and beat Nebraska for only the second time in 39 seasons.
Wow, that was depressing to drudge back up.
Fortunately, Nebraska is no longer the team from last season. We have a new coach, a new philosophy, and a new attitude.
Also fortunate is the fact that Kansas is not the same team either. The Jayhawks have struggled to continue their success after a brilliant season last year, and they are certainly beatable. South Florida, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech laid out a sure game plan for Nebraska to beat Kansas.
The Huskers need this win. Victory makes them bowl-eligible and gives them momentum to finish 8-4 this season and set a solid foundation for Pelini to build on for next season.
Here are some keys for Nebraska to beat Kansas on Saturday.
Bring consistent play
The team that nearly beat Texas Tech in overtime was not the team I watched get embarrassed in Norman. Nebraska knows how to play to win but doesn't always do it. If the Huskers hope to beat the Jayhawks, their play has to be consistent.
Protect Joe Ganz
The Sooners showed us what happens when Ganz gets frazzled. The offensive line must protect Ganz so he has time to make intelligent throws and not make mistakes. Ganz played very poorly against Kansas last season, so he might have a slow start confidence-wise, but after he makes a few key plays he'll be back in the game.
Capitalize on the run game
Nebraska hasn't run the ball too well this season so far—not until last weekend. Roy Helu Jr. provided the Huskers with some needed offensive gains later in the game by breaking a few nice runs. It's something I'm not used to seeing from a Husker team since I came here to college.
The coaches need to realize that Lucky can no longer play at the level we need him to. Helu is our future, and we need to put the ball in his hands.
Taking pressure off Joe Ganz and the passing game is the best thing the play-callers can do to ensure Nebraska is successful. Let Helu run the ball and bench Lucky—and certainly don't put it in fumble-happy Quentin Castille's hands.
The defensive game plan is a flip of the offensive one.
Disrupt Kansas' rhythm
When Kansas hasn't been ready to play this season, they haven't played well. Nebraska has to keep Kansas from finding a rhythm on offense and defense. When Kansas is on the wrong foot, Nebraska will have better opportunities to score or stop the Jayhawks.
Just like Ganz, Reesing seems to lock up when he's pressured. Tech did it, South Florida did it, and Oklahoma did it. So can we. If our boys on the D-line can rush Reesing, he'll make bad throws or, better yet, take a sack and give Nebraska's defense momentum.
Shut down Kansas' run game
Granted, it isn't too big this year, but the run game takes pressure off the passing game like in any other offense. If Nebraska keeps Kansas from being able to run effectively, they turn the Jayhawks into a one-dimensional team—and a one-dimensional team is much easier to stop than a two-dimensional team.
Nebraska has a very good chance to beat Kansas on Saturday and a great chance to make something great out of this season. Bo is doing good work, and a victory over Kansas would support that.
Nebraska really needs this win, and if they do those things Saturday, they'll get it.
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