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September 21, 2010Each Tuesday during the fall Huskeronline.com will sum up the weekly press conference with a "five things we learned" feature.
Nebraska will get ready to take on a 0-2 South Dakota State team in Lincoln on Saturday. Here's the latest buzz from the Huskers as they get to play their final nonconference game of 2010.
1 - NU doesn't want a letdown this week
Even if Nebraska played their worst possible game of the season it would be hard for them to lose this game against South Dakota State, but stranger things have happened. After you see teams like Virginia Tech fall to James Madison or Mississippi lose to Jacksonville State or even Michigan get all they can handle from Massachusetts you know that these FCS teams come ready to play.
I'm not saying that will be the case on Saturday with South Dakota State, but the last thing Nebraska needs this week is some sort of let down where the offense looks sloppy with turnover and penalties or the defense has some breakdowns in pass coverage and in run defense.
NU needs to put a bow on the nonconference season on Saturday by finishing things off on a high note before their showdown in Manhattan with Kansas State. With a coach like Bo Pelini, I don't think staying motivated will be a problem for the Huskers this week.
2- Martinez can throw it too
I found it interesting when offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said that redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez has the potential to be one of the better throwing quarterbacks he's been around over his coaching career.
Everybody knows Martinez can run, but to hear Watson say that about his passing skills on Tuesday speaks volumes of how far this kid has come. It's pretty amazing to think that Martinez went from being the quarterback consolation prize to Cody Green in the 2009 recruiting class to potentially one of the better throwing quarterbacks Watson has ever been around in his coaching career.
If anything, I think this week's game against SDSU will allow Watson to let Martinez work on his throwing more, because he knows the Huskers will be able to run the ball at will if they want too.
3 - Watson knows what he's doing
I got a good chuckle a couple of weeks ago when Watson said something about his coaching skills at the Big Red Breakfast in Omaha and he said it again on Tuesday. When talking about his ability as an offensive coach Watson said on Tuesday that "he didn't go stupid overnight" when referring to the struggles from a year ago.
You could just sense the pride in Watson's voice on Tuesday when the talks about the offense. Last season was a trying year for him to swallow his pride and go to an ultra conservative approach to win games.
You are finally starting to see Watson put his own stamp on this offense. This is no longer the Bill Callahan style West Coast offense or the "find a way to win games offense" we saw last year. This is Shawn Watson's offense - a mix of the spread zone read running game tied together with a West Coast passing attack. Nobody else right now in college football is doing what the Huskers are doing on offense according to Watson.
4 - The defensive line wants to stop the running plays up the middle
If there's been one thing you can be critical about with the play of the defense through three games, it's been their ability to stop the run at times.
Junior defensive tackle Jared Crick said on Tuesday that this week against SDSU they except the Jack Rabbits to come at them with a heavy dose of running and they are really hoping to shore up some of the problems they've had over the first three weeks.
5 - Bo doesn't care for FCS games in the future
If you want to be mad at somebody for having South Dakota State on the schedule, be upset at former Athletic Director Steve Pederson who scheduled the Jack Rabbits before he eventually left NU.
I guess the only positive is SDSU will get just $375,000 for their appearance in Memorial Stadium, compared to the $850,000 both Western Kentucky and Idaho received.
Pelini said on Tuesday that he doesn't think it's fair to the fans to play these types of games in the future, and as long as he has a say don't expect to see anymore FCS teams on the schedule anytime soon. It will be interesting to see what direction Nebraska will go for their 2011 season opener, considering their schedule already ranks as arguably the toughest in recent memory.
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