A Q&A with Corn Nation

This week we turn to fellow SB Nation blog Corn Nation to learn more about the Huskers from the people that known them best.  Husker Mike and Jon Johnson were kind enough to answer some of my questions and you can read those answers below. I also answered some questions of theirs and they have those posted on Corn Nation... check it out.

1) I hate to bring up the painful memories, but how much hangover will we see in Nebraska after last weeks result?  Are the coaches and players still hung up on the Texas game? Will it affect their play for better or worse this week? Or was it more the fans making a big deal about that game and the coaches and players are treating it as another week? (that was like 5 questions in 1!)

Husker Mike:
One thing I've generally liked about Bo Pelini is that he and his team tend to "live in the moment" and don't seem to be as susceptible to being affected by the previous game. They also seem to play pretty well on the road for whatever reason. I do believe that the players got caught up in the hype of this game and played tight.  They'll be better this week.

Jon J:
Husker fans went berserk over the game - yelling insults at Niles Paul as he walked to his car with his family, yelling insults at Bo Pelini as he was leaving the field, stuff like that. I had a fair amount of beer and stayed depressed for the weekend.
However I don't think any of that will affect the players. I think they'll look forward to the game this weekend as a way of making up for the loss, and like Mike said, they play better away from home (which is rather bizarre - maybe their fans are making them crazy....).

 

2) Oklahoma State's offense is extremely balanced, and the way that offense has been so productive this season is they have forced defenses to key on the running game. If you back off early, we run it hard and force you to bring that 7th (or even 8th) guy up to help.. then the aerial assault begins. Do you think the Nebraska defense has what it takes to not have to start bringing extras defenders up to stop Kendall Hunter?

Husker Mike:
Kendall Hunter scares me because Nebraska has shown a weakness against the run.  Getting up early and big against Washington and Kansas State minimized the impact of that.  I don't know if Nebraska can count on that this week.  One key IMHO is getting linebacker Will Compton back on the field. Nebraska has struggled to find a replacement while he was out, preferring to move safety Dejon Gomes up as a dime linebacker.  That hasn't worked out the greatest against teams that like to run the ball.  If Compton is ready, Gomes stays at safety and I think that helps Nebraska defend the run and still cover the receivers.

Jon J:
Yes, I do. Corners Prince Amukamara and Alfonoz Dennard are as good a pair as anyone in the country and can handle receivers in single man coverage if they have to. The defensive line hasn't had a lot of sacks, or tackles for loss, but they're not asked to penetrate as much - meaning they're going to stand their ground, something they've done okay at (not great).

Mike mentioned our linebackers. This is the week we find out how well Lavonte David has really learned the defense. If he gets out of position, it'll be deadly for us. And Will Compton coming back would be a great asset. How the run gets handled is the single key to the game, ain't it?

3) How many Nebraska quarterbacks will see the field on Saturday?

Husker Mike:
My guess is two.  Taylor Martinez will start, but who will finish depends on what happens. If they can lock down Martinez in the first five yards from scrimmage, Nebraska might need to turn again to Zac Lee, especially if they are behind. He's a better decision maker and passer, but not anywhere near the athlete.  If Martinez starts getting into the secondary regularly with his runs, the Husker offense rolls, and Cody Green comes in to mop up.

Jon J:
I think it'll be Taylor Martinez ‘til mop up time. Pelini second-guessed his decision to pull Martinez last week, so I think he'll stick with him unless he's completely ineffective early on.

4) With Texas, and to some extent South Dakota St, providing somewhat of a blueprint of how to contain the Nebraska offense, do you think the coaches will mix things up more this week?

Husker Mike:
They tried to mix things up last week, but at times, Martinez got mixed up, and the rest of the time, the receivers were downright incompetent with all those drops. I'd be shocked if Oklahoma State didn't try to do something similar, but I'm hoping that Nebraska learned some lessons this week, because until this offense shows they can beat this scheme, opponents will do what seems to work.

Jon J:
I think we had the right plays called last week, but just didn't execute them, i.e. dropped balls. Brandon Kinnie has been catching balls in traffic in every game except last week, but Niles Paul has been inconsistent for a while. What Pelini might mix up is the starting receivers.

5) Lastly, as much as we hate to admit it, we will miss Nebraska in the Big XII.  This was always a matchup to look forward to, and these two teams have played a lot of good games over the years (personally I have fond memories of the 98 game in KC where we came up a yard short at the end). How will you, and the Nebraska faithful, remember Oklahoma State as you head off to the Big Terrible... never to see us again.

Husker Mike:
Take this in the spirit it's intended. Oklahoma State is the "little brother" in the state of Oklahoma.  A good analogy is Eli Manning to Peyton.  Has had some success, sometimes even a lot of success.  But always stands in the shadow of that other guy.  I'll remember that 98 game, not to mention that game in the 80's when the score was 63-42 with Barry Sanders running nuts.  In some respects, I'll remember the last two NU/OSU games in Lincoln.  2003 was Bo Pelini's debut, and remembering how impressed I was with the Pelini approach in the first game.  And 2007, well, I remember it was the straw that finally broke the back and ushered out those two nincompoops.

Jon J:
I've been thinking about this lately, and to be honest, I kind of resent the Big 12. I realize that most of my memories of Oklahoma State were from the old Big Eight days because we don't play you guys every year. Mike mentioned Barry Sanders, who was just incredible to watch. The one game that stands out was the ‘93 game in which Barron Miles blocked a punt in the end zone for a touchdown when the game was very close and we pulled it out in the end. I remember it because it was one of the most incredible plays I've ever seen - a guy basically pulling the ball off the punter's leg and falling in the end zone.

There are a lot of things that suck about us leaving the Big 12 and our old Big Eight foes, but I suspect it won't hit us until next year. Tell you what, though. You beat us this weekend, and we'll certainly remember you for it because it will damage our chances of winning the Big 12 North.

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