In a discussion today on the 'ol Husker mailing list, it was suggested that Nebraska try the ultra-conservative game plan that failed miserably against USC. And after looking a little bit at Texas, I'm of the opinion that it will fail just as badly against Texas. Perhaps even worse.
Why? Simple. Texas is #2 in the nation at stopping the run, giving up only 1.9 yards per rush. So what should Nebraska do?
Remember the Alamo.
Or specifically, the Alamo Bowl. Nebraska defeated Michigan with a potent combination of runs and passes that kept Michigan from keying on either aspect. It was the West Coast Offense the way it was supposed to be run; a balanced attack that efficently moved the ball up and down the field.
The problem is that while Callahan's offense ends up being fairly balanced when you look at it over a long stretch, in most situations it is anything but balanced. And sometimes with disastrous results (Iowa State 2004, Kansas 2005, USC 2006). Even Tom Shatel notes that it's frustrating to get a handle on this offense.
The key to beating a team like Texas is to revisit games like the Michigan game and not balance the offense by games (run, run, run one week; pass, pass, pass the next) or even by series, but rather by plays. Throw the ball on 1st down and take advantage of Texas' desire to stop the run. Run the ball in passing situations to keep the 'Horns from keying on any aspect of the game. Keep 'em guessing.
Texas' weakness is the secondary, and if Texas gears up to keep Nebraska from running the ball, receivers will be open. Hit some receivers, and the running game will then open up.
I don't know if Zac Taylor will have time to find guys like Terrence Nunn or Franz Hardy on Saturday. Texas will likely pressure Taylor...he probably won't have time to work through his progressions. Instead, I like guys like Maurice Purify or Nate Swift on quick-hitting passes to loosen the defense.
Balance will be the key on Saturday. If Callahan's playcalling becomes predictable, it could be a long day Saturday.