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September 15, 2012

ASU keys to victory and HOL staff predictions


Nebraska will take the field on Saturday against Arkansas State trying to erase the memories of last week's 653 yard defensive performance at UCLA.

The Huskers are a 23 point favorite over defending Sun Belt champion Arkansas State, who earned their first win of the season last week against Memphis. As things get closer to kickoff, here are today's keys to victory for Nebraska.

Tackle, tackle….tackle!

This one is pretty simple. After countless missed tackles in space last week at UCLA, Nebraska must show improvement in this area on Saturday.

The Red Wolves will attack the Huskers with a spread offense that will definitely test this, and you can bet that ASU head coach Gus Malzahn will test this early and often.

All week the Huskers have done their best to improve their tackling efforts, preaching better fundamentals, even in "tag-off" or "non-tackling" drills. We'll see how this carries over to today.

Communication on defense

Communication on defense was a huge problem on Saturday at UCLA. I felt like multiple times the play coming in from the sideline for the defense was late or the players on the field had a hard time communicating it.

This led to coverage busts or open guys over the middle. With a complicated scheme like Nebraska's, it will be important they shore up these communication issues going forward, even if that means simplifying some of the calls.

Stay balanced on offense

For Nebraska's offense to continue to have success like what we saw against Southern Miss, "balance" is the key word.

Even without running back Rex Burkhead today, it will be important that NU has a running game element, whether that's from Ameer Abdullah, Braylon Heard or Taylor Martinez.

If you give Martinez a ground game, he throws the ball much more effectively. If you make him be a third-and-long quarterback that's not putting him in a position to succeed.

Generate some early three and outs

Arkansas State comes to Lincoln with a well-schemed offense. They are going to move the ball on anybody they play, just because that's how Malzahan's system works.

I think the key though for restoring some confidence in the defense will be generating some early three-and-outs. If the defense can do that right away, then they'll start playing with a swagger we haven't seen from them in a while.

Play with passion

You saw passion from NU defensive coordinator John Papuchis on Friday at the Big Red Breakfast. I think that opened people's eyes just how much Pelini and his staff care. Everyone affiliated with the program took Saturday's performance at the Rose Bowl personal.

That passion needs to carry over to today. Nebraska needs to take the field with fire. Husker nation seems split right now. In order to get things turned around after last week they need to take the field today with a spark and do something to get the crowd going. A solid showing today will go a long way to quiet the waters.


Callahan's weekly predictions

I see Arkansas State's offense putting up a few points, as they can put up points on just about anybody they face. However, I don't see any way the Red Wolves slow down the Husker offense. I think the Huskers will jump on ASU early and it will allow Pelini to play some young faces at different spots on the defense, which will allow Arkansas State to score a few points in the second half.

Nebraska 55 Arkansas State 30
Penn State 23, Navy 16
USC 45, Stanford 37
Ohio State 38, Cal 17
Notre Dame 23, Michigan State 20

Season Record: 5-4 overall; 5-4 vs. points



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