September 5, 2008

Match-up watch: Nebraska vs. San Jose State

Each week, HuskersIllustrated.com will breakdown the key match-up's heading into Saturday's game. This week, there are several intriguing match-ups heading into Nebraska's second contest of the season against San Jose State on Saturday.


Nebraska's secondary vs. San Jose State's passing game


Against Western Michigan, Nebraska's defensive backs were burned for nearly 350 yards and two touchdowns against a relatively balanced Bronco offense. This week, the Huskers will get all the passes they can handle from San Jose State.


Led by junior quarterback Kyle Reed, a transfer from California, and the receiver duo of seniors Kevin Jurovich and David Richmond, the Spartans possess one of the most active passing attacks NU will see all year.


The Spartans rushed for just 86 yards in their season opener against UC-Davis, and it's unlikely they'll find much more success against a Nebraska defense that held WMU to just eight yards rushing. If SJSU is forced to become one dimensional, the Huskers' secondary should get plenty of opportunities to improve upon last week's performance.


Nebraska's O-line vs. San Jose State's D-line


Nebraska was never able to gets its running game going against the Western Michigan, primarily because made it point to stack the box on essentially every play. While the Spartans might take a different defensive approach on Saturday, the Huskers will still have quite the challenge on their plate in blocking the Spartans' front four.


Along with returning three starters to the defensive line, SJSU got even better up front with the addition of senior defensive end Jeff Schweiger, who transferred from USC this offseason. Schweiger was a Parade All-American coming out of high school, and played a part on the Trojans' 2004 national championship team.


In addition to Schweiger, the Spartans return all-WAC selection Jarron Gilbert and last year's team sack leader Carl Ihenacho. With Nebraska's offensive line trying to establish itself as a physical unit that can run the football effectively, the Spartans' d-line will do everything in its power to make the Huskers a passing team for another week.


Joe Ganz vs. the Spartans' cornerbacks


Should Nebraska once again be forced to pass to score this week, quarterback Joe Ganz should be especially careful where he throws the ball against San Jose State's cornerbacks. In Chris Owens and Coy Francies, the Spartans possess arguably the cornerback tandems in the WAC.


Owens was an all-conference selection after picking off a team-high six passes last season, and he has 13 interceptions in his career. Francies started five games at Oregon State as a sophomore before transferring to SJSU in 2006.


After an impressive first half, Ganz cooled down considerably against the Broncos as the running game continued to stall. As a result, he threw two interceptions that helped make what was originally a blowout seem a little less impressive.

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