In a historic rivalry, the lines are being set. Currently, the Oklahoma Sooners are the odds on favorite to win by at least three touchdowns over the Nebraska Cornhuskers. While that seems like wide spread attached to the old Big 8 foes, it seems as though it’s attainable. In order to do so, here’s what Alex Grinch and Co. must do on the field:
Contain the Quarterback
Last season, Adrian Martinez led the Cornhuskers in rushing yards despite a deep and talented backfield. Fans may have hoped for a change in strategy heading into 2021 as the quarterback is the unrivaled starter. However, through three games, the signal caller has amassed 256 yards on the ground with an average of 7.53 per carry. Crossing the goal line three times as well, Martinez is a dangerous runner.
Likely employing a linebacker to hold the responsibility of slowing down the efforts of Martinez on the ground, it’s not a one man job. Instead, the defensive line must tap into knowledges gained from the previous two weeks against mobile quarterbacks. Utilizing the defensive ends to keep containment, the Sooners have plenty of athleticism on the edge to do just that. This looks like a game where Oklahoma could easily force Martinez to throw consistently in order to pull off the upset.
Through two games this season, the defensive unit has secured six turnovers. It’s a welcomed sight for any coordinator at any level of football. Right now, the bread and butter has been in forcing fumbles. It just so happens that Nebraska is prone to coughing the ball up onto the turf. A quick look at the stat sheet reveals four lost fumbles in three games. In a game of momentum swings, maintaining a similar clip in the statistical category for OU should provide ample opportunity for Spencer Rattler to put points on the board.
Limit Mistakes on the Backend
There’s no denying that this Sooner defense boasts one of the nations premier defensive lines. Largely attributed for the success in recent years, the line covers a multitude of mistakes made by the secondary. Knowing Billy Bowman and Woodi Washington are likely out for the upcoming contest, two other inexperienced players will take their first start. My bet is on Jeremiah Criddell and Latrell McCutchin but regardless of name, it couldn’t have come at a more pivotal moment. In week one, communication was lacking leading to missed rotations and wide open receivers. Facing a lethal quarterback like Martinez, those mishaps could easily result in long scores for Nebraska. Throughout the remainder of the week, these inexperienced defenders must prioritize the verbalization of what’s happening on the field. It’s possibly the biggest key to success from the group.