This week fellow SB Nation writers from Corn Nation took some time out to answer some questions I had about the Huskers this week. Read what they have to say about this Week 8 matchup below:
1. What happened last week? Was it an off day for the Huskers, or did Texas Tech expose Nebraska? How is the fanbase handling this?
Husker Mike: It was confirmation of all the question marks that we've previously excused. Question marks existed with the offensive play against Virginia Tech and Missouri, but we had excuses. Virginia Tech is a perennial defensive power, and neither team could move the ball in that monsoon in Columbia. But against Tech, the Husker offense was exposed, and the fan base has turned against offensive coordinator Shawn Watson and quarterback Zac Lee for the most part.
Corn Blight: Mike provided a good answer with regards to the offense. With regards to the fan base, the answer is "poorly". As you might know, Husker fans booed the offense, or Zac Lee, or the refs, depending upon who you talk to. Fact is, halfway through the season, the team is still trying to figure out what works (besides Roy Helu running the ball).
2. It seems like all of the attention this week has been on the Huskers QB situation. Do you think it matters who starts for Nebraska this week in terms of expecting a win?
Husker Mike: From my perspective, no, because the problems on offense are bigger than the quarterback situation. Playcalling last week was questionable at best and discombobulated at worst. The injury situation at I-back is a huge complicating factor, as Roy Helu is not 100% and Rex Burkhead is out until Thanksgiving or beyond. I'm hoping that the coaching staff went back to the drawing board and figured out what this squad does best, then assembles the personnel who do that best. That may - or may not -call for a change at quarterback.
Corn Blight: No, although if Cody Green starts and plays a lot, things might get pretty interesting. Green is raw - perhaps as raw as they come. We really don’t know much about him, so whether he targets our receivers or yours, hey, someone’s going to get the ball when he throws it!
As Mike stated, the offensive problems are more than just quarterback. The offensive line continues to make drive-killing mistakes at the worst possible time. Until that’s corrected, anything can happen.
3. Going along with #2, do you think that the QB controversy in Lincoln, combined with being a heavy favorite in this game will be a distraction in the players' preparation?
Husker Mike: I hope not. I've been impressed with the Cyclones this season for the most part, and I'm not sure the Huskers should be 18 point favorites --- even if they had somehow found a way to win last weekend.
Corn Blight: No. If anything the team will be more isolated, have more of a "us against the world" attitude, which may work in their favor.
4. We know about Suh and Helu. Who's someone else on the Huskers that's either underrated or just not being talked about enough that you think Iowa State fans should be on the lookout for?
Husker Mike: I'll throw two names out. Jared Crick is that "other" guy on the inside of the defensive line. Double team Ndamukong Suh, and that means you've got to go one-on-one to stop Crick...and Missouri found out how tough that was. On one play against Missouri, Crick fought through a double-team and drew a holding call. It's also no coincidence that Steven Sheffield got injured with all the pressure the d-line put on.
Prince Amukamara is the Nebraska's best cornerback. He's a force both on run support and in pass coverage (except for last week).
Corn Blight: Larry Asante, one of the best safeties in the Big 12.
5. What does Nebraska have to do this week to gain the confidence of Husker fans? Is simply winning enough, or is there more?
Husker Mike: I think Husker fans are overconfident this week once again. I don't know what Iowa State did against Iowa and Kansas State, but they've shown remarkable improvement this season. Nearly beat Kansas two weeks ago, and handled Baylor with relative ease. So simply winning won't be enough, and that's probably enough of a task this week. Ideally, the Husker offense gets unstuck and leaves Alex Henery to worry about kicking extra points most of the day...but I'm expecting more of a battle than that.
Corn Blight: The defense is fine as is. The offense, however, needs to cut down on stupid mistakes. It would be a sign of progress if we could eliminate penalties that should be gone by now - false starts, illegal procedures, and idiotic holding penalties that have cost us at least one game.
Thanks again to Corn Nation for answering these questions, and looking forward to the game tomorrow!