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September 3, 2011

UTC keys to victory and HOL staff predictions


For the first time this season Nebraska fans will finally get to see Tim Beck's offense up close and personal.

Head coach Bo Pelini will take the field in his fourth season at NU, as the Huskers open up things against Tennessee-Chattanooga as 35 point favorites.

As things get closer to kickoff, here are the keys to a Husker victory, along with our staff predictions on Nebraska's game, along with two other key match-ups of the week.

Joining our weekly pick team this year will be 1620 the Zone's Unsportsmanlike Conduct co-host Mike'l Severe, along with KETV Channel 7 sports director Andy Kendeigh, who spent the last several years working in Wisconsin before moving to Omaha.

Get Martinez going early

For the entire off-season we've heard about the changes quarterback Taylor Martinez has made to his game.

Saturday will be the first time we'll get to see this "new Martinez" in action. I'm expecting to see a calmer, more mature Martinez.

Pelini has talked very highly of Martinez and expects him to take big steps this season. It will be important that Martinez establishes himself early with some big runs and plays in the passing game.

Expose UTC's young offensive line

The biggest mismatch in this game is easily Nebraska's defensive line against the young Tennessee-Chattanooga offensive line.

The Mocs will feature three brand new starters, two of which are redshirt freshmen. The UTC coaching staff is well aware that the Huskers probably have at least four future pros on their defensive line. This scares Chattanooga to death.

They know they can't risk quarterback B.J. Coleman in the pocket. They will do their best to get rid of the ball in a hurry with quick screens and slant passes. If the Blackshirts can slow this aspect of their offense down, it's going to be a long day for the Mocs.

Offensive tempo

We've heard so much about the high tempo Tim Beck's offense will play with today. Pelini said during the Big Red Breakfast the Huskers will probably not huddle much this season.

Pelini called Beck's new system a combination of the spread with some old school Nebraska mixed into it. My interpretation of that is the 2007 Kansas offense mixed with some option and power football.

NU needs to keep Chattanooga on their heels today. Pelini wants his new offense to be an attack style system similar to the way he goes after opponents on defense.

Limit coverage breakdowns

Nebraska will have several young faces in the secondary today, including cornerbacks Andrew Green, Ciante Evans, Dijon Washington and Josh Mitchell.

With Coleman's experience at quarterback, you have to really think he's going to attack the young Husker secondary and test these corners early.

As Corey Raymond said, the key will be to play with sound technique and fundamentals to limit any possible coverage breakdowns.

Execution and ball security

Maybe the worst stat of the 2010 season for Nebraska was they led the nation in fumbles. Their ball security was a joke at times last year.

With the amount of times NU fumbled the football they are very fortunate they won 10 games. Beck knows this has to improve. He's implemented several new drills to preach ball security.

I also think the simplistic nature of Beck's system will help with the ball security, as Nebraska's players won't have as much to think about on offense.

Penalties and execution on offense are two other things that need to show improvement from a year ago. Too many times over the last few seasons Nebraska's offense has been hampered because of unnecessary penalties.


Callahan's weekly predictions

Nebraska's defensive line will dominate the Mocs up front and I expect Taylor Martinez to run wild on offense. Looks for a lot of young faces to see action as the Huskers will roll big, but let off at the end and not cover the 35 point spread. I also like both LSU and Georgia to win as underdogs in their match-ups.

Nebraska 45 Tennessee-Chattanooga 13
LSU 37 Oregon 31
Georgia 27 Boise State 23

Season Record: 0-0 overall; 0-0 vs. points



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