September 2, 2006

Five keys to victory against Louisiana Tech

Each week HuskersIllustrated.com will give the five keys to victory for the Nebraska football team. Today NU will open the season against Louisiana Tech in Lincoln at 2:30 p.m. on Fox Sports Net.

One of the biggest keys for the Huskers will be to establish a solid rushing attack. Last year NU averaged less than 100 yards per game on the ground…here are this week's five keys to victory.

Pound the rock

This has been the theme for Nebraska since spring football started in March. Head coach Bill Callahan wants to bring back the ground game to Lincoln and don't be surprised if you see NU run the ball well over 60 percent of the time on Saturday. In fact, on the first scripted drive I expect NU to run it 80 percent of the time.

The Huskers have great depth in the backfield with sophomores Marlon Lucky and Cody Glenn and juniors Brandon Jackson and Kenny Wilson. Callahan wants to turn these backs loose on Saturday. He wants to find out which one will perform the best under live bullets.

Another area Callahan wants to see improvement in is the play of the offensive line. If Nebraska can establish some early rhythm in the ground game Saturday, the line will start the 2006 season on a major bolt of confidence.

Apply pressure to Zac Champion

Here's a very important statistic people should know about Louisiana Tech quarterback Zac Champion-Saturday will be his first Division I start.

Champion has only thrown six passes in his career and making his first start at Memorial Stadium in front of 85,000 people will no doubt put major pressure on him. Expect defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove to bring the heat at Champion to try to rattle his confidence early.

However, Tech does have a solid offensive line returning that should provide a formidable task for the Blackshirts up front.

Zac Taylor's completion percentage

Early on last season senior quarterback Zac Taylor struggled with his completion percentage. This shouldn't be the case in 2006 because Taylor now knows the West Coast offense inside and out.

Taylor said on Tuesday that his goal for a completion percentage this season is over 60 percent, and if he had it his way it would be over 70.

Saturday Taylor needs to come out at a good pace to set the tone for the game. More than likely NU will pass very little on Saturday, so Taylor won't have as much pressure on him to perform as he did last season when teams could just tee off on him.

Blitz pick-up

The communication of the offensive line and running backs on blitz pick-up will be extremely key on Saturday.

Protecting No. 13 in the pocket is probably the biggest key to the 2006 season and it will all start for the first time on Saturday. Since spring ball started last March, running backs coach Randy Jordan has preached blitz pick-up to his young backs every day.

On passing downs, expect NU to go with Brandon Jackson at running back. Jordan said that Jackson is NU's best pass blocker and he reads the blitz better than anybody on the team.

Have limited secondary breakdowns

Secondary breakdowns are going to happen in almost every game, the key for Nebraska on Saturday is to limit them.

If NU's secondary makes the La Tech offense look anything like it did the last time they came to Lincoln with Troy Edwards and Tim Rattay, this game will be very interesting.

On Nickel downs, expect NU to go with senior Isaiah Fluellen at corner and sophomore Barry Turner will also come in for his pass rushing specialty role.


Prediction: Nebraska 41 Louisiana Tech 10

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