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Pat’s Preview and Prediction – Purdue Boilermakers

Photo by Hudson Downing
Photo by Hudson Downing – Shot by Hudson

Pat’s Preview and Prediction – Purdue Boilermakers

Game Info:  Huskers vs Purdue Saturday, Sept 29th at 2:30 CT – Lincoln, Nebraska

Where to watch/listen:  Big Ten Network, BTN2Go App, Husker Radio Network

So what happens now?

Before any kind of analysis and prediction can be surmised or even entertained the Nebraska football team must first ask themselves “What happens now?”.

Scott Frost made it clear in his Monday press conference that he could tell that Nebraska would perform poorly against Michigan, just not that bad. The funny thing is, I thought the Huskers were past these kinds of meltdowns. Until they move past them, Nebraska will fail to get to the place that they want to be. Penalties, poor special teams, and giving up big plays have plagued the Huskers through their first 3 games.

So what happens now? Preparation for Purdue began this week and through the first three days of practice Frost has been pleased with the level on intensity in each practice. The Huskers have also spent an abundance of extra time on special teams work during practice which is one the area’s the Huskers should be able to show a quick improvement in. Coach DeWitt said that there would be personnel changes this week and new guys would be auditioning for special teams roles.

Coach Jovan Dewitt courtesy of Huskers.com

“I’ll tell you this much, it’s been a ball-buster in terms of special teams, I’m just going to tell you right now. It’s been a high-intensity week for special teams and it’s going to continue to be so.”   –Special Teams coach Jovan Dewitt

Special Teams coach Jovan Dewitt

With Purdue coming to town the Huskers have a chance at redemption in front of a sell-out crowd who in spite of recent debacles.  The Boilermakers pulled an upset last week beating Boston College led by QB David Blough and WR Rondale More. They’ve tasted success after losing three straight games to questionable teams and you can bet they want more. Frost said Purdue was a game Nebraska can win and the Boilermakers would beg to differ.

But I’ll give this young Nebraska squad the benefit of the doubt. I think they’ll be ready to play and whatever baggage is weighing this team down will be thrown off their shoulders for one game at least. So with that in mind, let’s get to the O’s and X’s.

OFFENSE

What to watch for: Emphasis on Execution–

The Huskers had a multitude of miscues against Michigan beginning with that fateful pick on Nebraska’s first drive. The offensive line was a porous sieve in Ann Arbor allowing Wolverine defenders to sack Martinez four times and holding the Husker running game to just 39 yards. Less than 50 yards for the whole game. And while Purdue’s defense is nowhere near the future fixtures in the NFL that Michigan’s D-Line possesses, the Boilermakers still got four interceptions against the Golden Eagles. However, I think that within the comfy confines of Memorial Stadium, there should be an improvement with Nebraska’s execution to where Husker fans see a minimum of mistakes. The Huskers have a lot to prove to themselves and to their coach this Saturday.

Cause for Concern: Desperation– 

Going 0-3 to start your season is bad enough, but to get trounced in one of those losses, is probably going to cause a few panic buttons to be flipped. Not by the coaches, but by the younger players. If things are going south, the play might get more reckless and will leave Nebraska prone to mistakes. Frost has to exude calm and collected to his troops. Purdue will pounce if the Huskers show any kind of desperation.

Offensive Key to Victory: It Takes Eleven–

This turnaround is going take a total team effort, but especially so by the offense. The offensive line couldn’t do anything the last two Saturdays and the running backs were constantly stymied at the line of scrimmage. Stanley Morgan continues to be a steady presence on the offense but he can’t do it all on his own. Noone on the team can put it all on their shoulders.

If there is one lesson I want Nebraska to learn this weekend, that’s the one. Because once you learn that you’re only as good as the guy next to you, that’s when teamwork and winning can truly begin.

Defense Coordinator Erik Chinander – Photo courtesy of Huskers.com

DEFENSE

What to watch for: Return of the Pass Rush– 

The Blackshirts were allowed keep their prized black jerseys after giving up almost 500 yards to the Wolverines last week. It appears that Erik Chinander is giving them a second chance, and the Huskers D would do well to make good on that and can ramp things back up by giving the Boilermakers offense a tough time with a relentless pass rush.

The Boilermakers’ QB David Blough went 21 for 28 passing for 296 yards against Boston College last Saturday. However, he did fumble the ball after getting walloped by a Golden Eagle defender and the Boston College defense sacked him five times. That bodes well for a Blackshirt D that wants to earn back the bones.

“I think he’s an exceptional passer,” Chinander said of quarterback David Blough. “He’s an adequate runner. He can run it a little bit…but I think he can throw it as [well] as anybody in the league. We’re really going to have to be great in melting the zones, and we’re going to have to be tight in man coverage.”

Defensive Coordinator Erik Chinander 

Cause for Concern: Fundamentally Floundering– 

Tim Brando said it best during the Michigan broadcast that the Husker defenders took bad angles in their pursuit of Michigan RB Karan Higdon. There were also an embarrassing number of whiffs and misses when it came to tackling and the D-Line got completely enveloped by an offensive line that was supposed to be a weak spot. If the secondary isn’t up to the task in stifling the Purdue receivers and if Nebraska gives up too many big plays, chalk it up as 0-4 for the season.

Defensive Key to Victory: Mo’ Mo Barry–

Mohammad Barry knows what’s up. In the Monday presser, Barry stated that the Michigan game had to be where Nebraska hit bottom. The Huskers had to show improvement, show progress, and they had to win. Barry was the lone bright spot for the defense, leading with 11 tackles and a getting a sack. The Blackshirts should take inspiration from Barry and feed off of his energy to have a much better showing against Purdue.

Special Teams Key to Victory: Find a Reliable Return Man– 

Want to know why Tyjon Lindsey should lose his punt returner status? Look no further than his poor decision to reach for a live ball that could very easily have been blown dead with Nebraska in decent field position, and instead turn the ball over to Michigan which took it in for the score a few plays later. Wanna know why Wyatt Mazour should get a shot? Played hard despite the lopsided score, best rusher all day for the Big Red, and prior experience as a kickoff returner. Sometimes you have to roll the hard six. Football games aren’t won by going with what isn’t working.

PREDICTION

The Huskers are hungry for redemption. The fans are hungry for it. The whole state is hungry for it. I think they got their lesson last week, and I think they learned it well. They’re gonna earn every inch of this game, especially since the Boilermakers have their bulletin board material in proving that this isn’t such a winnable game.

But don’t worry, Husker fans. The schneid, she will be broken and the good guys prevail thanks to Pickering the Kickering (Eh. I tried.) earning hero status of the week with a beauty through the uprights. Final score:  27-24.

See ya next week!

GO BIG RED!!!

-Pat

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