LUBBOCK, Texas - The Nebraska football team will have their hands full today when they take on No. 7 ranked Texas Tech at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock.
If the Huskers (3-2, 0-1) want to have a chance to knock off the Red Raiders (5-0, 1-0) they are obviously going to need quite a few breaks to go their way. Here are today's keys for Nebraska against Texas Tech.
What's the defensive game plan?
Last week we heard how much confidence the defensive staff had in their game plan going into the Missouri game. Everybody obviously knows what happened on the field, as Nebraska was blown out 52-17 at home by Missouri.
This week head coach Bo Pelini needs to bounce back and come up with a sound defensive game plan that can slow down Tech's high powered offense-much easier said than done. The key is keeping the plan simple, yet complex enough to make Tech guess. Last week's plan was too complex and the players had a tough time grasping it, and that definitely showed on the field.
Stopping Tech's ground game
Everybody talks about what Tech's offense can do through the air, but an added dimension that has made them even more dangerous their ground game.
In last week's Kansas State game, their two top running backs ran for 138 yards on 27 carries. When the Red Raiders can run like that, it makes quarterback Graham Harrell and wide receiver Michael Crabtree that much more dangerous.
It will be important for the Huskers to be aware of the Tech running game and not let the Red Raider running backs break free like they did last week in Manhattan.
Being physical on offense
It was back to the basics for the Nebraska offensive line this week. Line coach Barney Cotton said he almost took a spring practice approach with his linemen in attempt to get this group going after what has been a very disappointing 2008 season.
The key with the offensive line is being physical. Nebraska has not dominated the line of scrimmage like they should be, and they are not using their physical size to their advantage. Senior Matt Slauson said the Huskers have been waiting for the defense to come them, instead of firing off the ball and going after them. That obviously has to change starting today.
If there's an area where Texas Tech has some vulnerability, it's their special teams. In last week's Kansas State game Tech had a punt blocked that went for a touchdown, and they've also experienced some problems at place kicker.
However, for Nebraska they have also experienced their special teams problems. The Huskers currently rank last in the Big 12 Conference in net punting, and senior Dan Titchener has not been his normal self this season.
Get a few breaks
If Nebraska wants to have a chance to win this game, they are going to have to get a few breaks. Nebraska's defense has not forced a turnover the last two games. If they fail to force a turnover today, there's almost no way they can win this game.
They are also going to have to figure out a way to slow down Tech's offense. There's really no way to completely shut them down, but if you can contain them and force a few stops that will take a lot of pressure of the Husker offense. In all reality though, a Husker win is very unlikely. Nebraska just does not have the horses to run with the Red Raiders.