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H U S K E R    D A N

Most Husker fans are hoping (expecting?) the Huskers will play a 14 game schedule this year that will include an appearance in the Big 12 Championship game and a respectable January bowl game.

And at this point of the season, Nebraska is exactly where most people expected they'd be with a 2-0 record. Two down and 12 to go.

No sweat. No surprises. No problem.

And maybe there isn't enough proof that they are ready to take the next step in the rebuilding of the Husker football program. How good are the Huskers at this point of the season?

Bo has said several times that, "We're nowhere near where we need to be as a team." His post game comments are usually, "I saw some good things out there and some bad things. We have a lot to work on."

All of us should listen to Bo. He knows that the deck is stacked against his team as they head for a match-up with 13th ranked Virginia Tech. Meanwhile, the Huskers have quietly crept up in the rankings to the 18th and 19th slots after two easy wins over a couple of respectable (but not great) Sun Belt conference contenders.

Does Va. Tech's ranking mean more because of their having played Alabama in their season opener?

Probably. And the Hokies will be very tough to beat at Blacksburg where they haven't lost at home since October 25, 2008 when Georgia Tech beat the them 14-10.

But when we examine their home wins of last year, we see that Virginia Tech hasn't been all that dominant. They edged Georgia Tech, 20-17, Western Kentucky, 27-13, Maryland, 23-13, powerhouse (!) Duke 14-3 and Virginia 17-14.

Yes, maybe the Hokies haven't been a scoring machine, but what does stand out, is that they don't give up many points. And maybe that's an edge the Huskers have.

Huh? Let me explain.

It's true we still don't know all that much about the Huskers' ability to move the
ball on a really good defense. And Beamer Ball is all about defense and special teams.

And Frank Beamer didn't just fall off the turnip truck. He's going to throw everything at the young Zac Lee to get him rattled. They will disguise their blitzes, hoping they'll either get a sack or Zac will toss one to one of their guys.

My guess is to start the game, the Hokies will stack the line with 8 or 9 guys in the box and force Zac Lee to beat them with his arm. As I said in last week's column, that would have been spot on with Jammal Lord at QB, but such a scheme may backfire on the Hokies.

The Huskers might have enough offense to keep the Hokie defense guessing. Look for Roy Helu, Jr. to get some tough yardage. Look for Zac and his receivers to find the seams in the Hokie defense. It won't be easy, but the Huskers have a chance, especially if they can manage the following obvious points:
1.) Be able to run the ball when they have to.
2.) Zac needs to let the game come to him-don't try to force anything.
3.) Nebraska must win the turnover battle.
4.) Penalties need to be at a minimum-the Huskers can ill afford to make stupid mistakes.
5.) The Huskers need to win the time of possession battle. Play keep away from the Hokie offense.
6.) The Huskers will need to score touchdowns when they get into the Red Zone. Settling for field goals is not going to make it.
7.) The Husker linebackers are going to have to defend their lanes.
8.) Avoid giving up big plays. The Husker front four is going to have to get to play with a great deal of passion and discipline.
9.) Take the Hokie crowd out of the game. There will be an invasion of Husker fans who will be more than happy to pick up the slack.
10.) Shawn Watson is going to have to call a great game. And look for Zac Lee to find opportunities to pick up first downs with his feet.

And there you have it. All the Huskers have to do is to execute their game plan and play their assignments. It won't take a perfect game by the Huskers to win this one.

And lastly, I would give anything to be in the Husker locker room just prior to kickoff. Bo is going to have his kids believing they can win. The Husker program hasn't had a road win over a ranked team since the Washington game in 1997. That's a long drought.

What a great time this Saturday to show the college football world that the Huskers are, indeed, back!
Many of you wrote last week to point out the error of my ways when I said that Baker Steinkuhler and not Jared Crick blocked a Florida Atlantic field goal attempt. Of course it was Jared! All I can say is, those of you who wrote must be first time readers of this column. You need to know that from time to time and without any warning whatsoever, I purposely make mistakes just to see if anyone is paying attention. And all of you who wrote, go to the head of the class. You are very, very sharp.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it...
It was nice to see the former, former, former, former Voice of the Huskers, Kent Pavelka on the sidelines at the Arkansas State game doing sideline reporting for the PPV telecast. But I still think he needs to be doing play-by-play work.

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