Here are Nebraska linebackers Corey McKeon and Stewart Bradley spending their Halloween weekend in an enviable fashion. Yes, that is McKeon as the Hulkster and I have no idea what Bradley is besides pretty (and very, very lucky).
Archive for October, 2006
With the season more than half over, I decided it was time to take another look at explosive plays. I had previously examined this concept just prior to the USC game. As a reminder, explosive plays are defined as runs of 12 yards or more and passes of 16 yards or more. Like other variables, explosive plays have been found to be a key factor in a team’s success.
Explosive Plays (Click to Enlarge)
The graph illustrates the interaction between the explosive plays produced by Nebraska’s offense and those given up by its defense in 2006. From an offensive standpoint you have to be pleased with what the graph shows. The Nebraska “O” has produced 88 explosive plays on the season, or just under 10 per game. That is a vast improvement over the numbers put up just a year ago. In 2005, the Huskers offense had only 61 explosive plays or slightly over 5 per contest. I think most Husker fans would agree that the offense is vastly improved over last year. Much of this improvement can be traced to an enhanced running game and the development of a big play receiver in Maurice Purify.
It is important to note, however, that explosive plays are an interactive measurable because a team’s effectiveness in this area can be diminished if their defense is giving up explosives at the same rate that the offense is gaining them. Here is where the complaints of many Husker fans lie. For instance, take a good look at the graph and guess which two defensive performances have raised the ire of Husker Nation. It is clear that defensive breakdowns against Kansas and Oklahoma State led to huge offensive performances by these Big 12 foes (thankfully we managed to split thrse contests). Most perplexing, however, are the performances versus Top 10 opponents USC and Texas. The Huskers did a tremendous job of limiting these high-powered offenses and actually produced more explosives than they gave up versus the Longhorns. Overall, however, the Nebraska defense has already given up 70 explosive plays on the year. By comparison the Blackshirts gave up just 79 explosive plays all of 2005. The reasons for the defensive drop off are numerous, but likely begin with an inexperienced secondary (with 3 new starters) and an over-hyped, but under-productive front four.
Thus far Nebraska has managed to win two games when its defense gives up more explosive plays than its offense produces. A year ago the Huskers won five such games. In my previous analysis I noted that:
“They were able to get away with this for several reasons. First, the Huskers led the nation in sacks with 50 and also had 140 tackles for loss. In addition, the 2005 defense was able to clamp down in the Red Zone, and prevent teams from scoring from this area of the field. Lastly, they benefited from strong special teams play. Nebraska blocked several field goals, including two potential game winners versus Pitt. Moreover, the Huskers relied on punter Sam Koch to flip the field and bury opponents in negative field position situations.”
The Blackshirts are way behind the 2005 pace in both sacks and tackles for loss. In addition, the special teams have become less than special. As a result, I continue to have concerns about our defense and its inclination to give up explosive plays. Even with an improved offense, we still don’t protect the QB well enough to get involved in a shootout. This is especially worrisome given the weapons that Missouri brings to Lincoln. If we thought the spread attack of Oklahoma State created match up problems, just wait until the Chase Daniel-led Tiger attack takes the field on Saturday.
Conference: Big 12
Stadium: Faurot Field (Capacity: 68,349)
First Year of Football: 1890
All Time Record: 567-494-53 (.533)
Head Coach: Gary Pinkel
5th year as head coach at Missouri: Career record at Mizzou: 29-30
Last Season: A year ago Missouri finished 7-5 and ended the season with a 38-31 win over South Carolina in the Independence Bowl.
This Season: The Tigers returned 17 starters and had a lot of talent in place, meaning the temperature under Pinkel’s chair would rise with mediocre results. The biggest question coming into the season was how to replace Brad Smith. Chase Daniel has become the answer and Mizzou currently finds itself at 7-2.
On Offense: Missouri’s offense hasn’t skipped a beat without Smith, and in fact, might actually be more consistent. The Tigers currently rank 19th nationally in total offense and are averaging 413 yards/game. Chase Daniel is a gritty performer who is capable of carrying the team on his back. Although he is just a sophomore, thus far, he has been able to do all that has been asked of him within the offense. He is completing 65% of his passes for 2287 yards and 19 TDs with 8 INTs. He has also rushed for 322 yards and another 4 TDs.
The Mizzou rushing attack averages 155 yards/game places it 42nd nationally and 8th in the Big 12. The Tigers running game is led by Tony Temple. Temple missed the spring with a shoulder injury, but has bounced back and shown improved durability. He has racked up 662 yards and 3 TDs. Jimmy Jackson, Earl Goldsmith and Marcus Woods will also see action against Nebraska. Goldsmith is extremely quick, while Jackson has a bit more power than the other Tiger RBs.
While the Missouri receivers are talented, they are actually overshadowed by the most talented tight end duo in the nation. Junior Martin Rucker (Mike’s lil bro) and sophomore Chase Coffman are both big targets with extremely soft hands. Although Rucker was the more known of the two going into 2006, it is Coffman that is having the bigger year. He currently has 40 catches for 402 yards and 5 TDs. If we don’t see a big play from one of these two, I will take back all of the nasty things I’ve said about our safeties.
At WR the Tigers are led by William Franklin. Franklin has pretty good size (6-2, 205), great speed and sensational leaping ability. He currently has 42 receptions for 743 yards (17.7 yards/rec) and 6 TDs. Joining Franklin are Brad Ekwerekwu, and freshman Jared Perry. Ekwerekwu is 6-4 and 215 pounds with good hands and shifty moves in the open field.
Missouri has four returning starters along the offensive line, led by senior center Adam Spieker who is a three-year starter. Missouri’s tackles are Tyler Luellen and Joel Clinger. Luellen has a long frame at 6-7, which provides him with excellent reach in pass protection. Clinger has a terrific motor, which allows him to be an aggressive and devastating run blocker. On the inside, the Tiger guards are Monte Wyrick and Ryan Madison. Wyrick is the heaviest of the OL at 320 pounds, as well as one of the Tigers’ strongest players. Madison is just a sophomore, but has been dependable thus far.
On Defense: The Tigers’ defense has shown tremendous improvement over its 2005 efforts. Missouri currently ranks 26th nationally and 2nd in the Big 12 in total defense. The Nebraska offensive line will benefit from absence of Mizzou DE Brian Smith. Smith an explosive pass rusher who had 7.5 sacks in 2006 was lost for the year to a hip fracture while blocking on a fumble return against KSU. Stepping in for Smith is Xzavie Jackson, who has good size and a great deal of experience. The other DE spot is manned by Stryker Sulak. Sulak has good strength and a nice burst to the ball. On the inside, the Tigers rely on DTs Lorenzo Williams and Evander “Ziggy” Hood. Williams’ speed will almost certainly cause problems for the interior of the Husker line and Hood has been great against the run.
The middle of the Tiger linbacking corps is filled by Dedrick Herrington. Herrington is a former safety who combines great size with the athleticism of a DB to make big plays from his MLB spot. Mizzou’s leading tackler is OLB Marcus Bacon who has 81 stops. Bacon is another former safety who flys to the ball. At the other OLB spot is sophomore Brock Christopher. Christopher is the team’s biggest LB who makes up for a lack a range with his tremendous tackling ability.
Missouri’s secondary continues to improve and the Tigers are currently 2nd in the Big 12 in passing efficiency defense. The cornerbacks are Darnell Terrell and Hardy Ricks. Terrell is another big CB at 6-2, but is also incredibly athletic. He has 1 INT and 7 passes broken up, and has also forced a fumble in 2006. Ricks was a sought after recruit who has 31 tackles and on PBU on the year. Missouri has one of the nation’s top safeties in David Overstreet. Overstreet is smart and has a nose for the ball, he is currently third on the team in tackles with 66. The FS is Brandon Massey, who is tied for the team lead in interceptions with 2.
Special Teams: The Nebraska kickoff team might get the break it needs, as Mizzou ranks 86th nationally in kickoff returns. Earl Goldsmith averages 20.6 yards/return and has a season long of 32 yards. Marcus Woods and Tommy Saunders split the punt return duties, although Saunders has had more success on the year. Missouri’s kicker is Jeff Wolfert. Wolfert is 11/13 on the year with a long of 44 yards. Adam Crossett handles the punting duties. He averages just under 40 yards/punt and has placed 9 out of 31 punts inside the 20.
Series History: This marks the 100th meeting between the two schools. Nebraska leads the all-time series 62-34-3.
I Can’t Believe I Looked It Up Either: Nebraska has scored 24 total points in each of the last four meetings with Missouri. The Huskers are 2-2 in those games.
Fading Out: Under Pinkel, in the last five regular season games of each of his five seasons, Mizzou has gone just 10-15 and has only beaten one team (Iowa State in 2004) in November that finished with a winning record.
Six Degrees of Beano Cook: In 2005 Missouri beat Nebraska 41-24.
As always your feedback is both welcome and encouraged. I wasn’t at home this weekend and thus didn’t have Gameplan at my disposal. As a result, I didn’t watch as many games as I would have liked.
Overall, everything has set up nicely for the big match ups that were highlighted in the preseason – Ohio St v. Michigan and WVU v. Louisville. Certainly the top two spots are therefore, up for grabs the next few weekends. After that it looks like a clusterfluff of one-loss teams. Unfortunately, I expect to see more and more coaches lobbying for positions (see Tommy Tubberville and Charlie Weis) as the season progresses.
Absolutely no heart showed by the Huskers today. At some point it simply comes down to “want to” and apparently we don’t.
The offensive line has shown little improvement as the season has progressed and I have no faith in their ability to slow any kind of pass rush. Taylor continues to look out of rhythm and has gotten into the habit of throwing off of his back foot. These two aspects are most certainly related.
The defense was absolutely atrocious, particularly in the 2nd half. I haven’t felt that helpless watching a Nebraska defense against the run since Colorado in 2001. My biggest pet peeve right now is hearing about how the safeties are playing well. They just aren’t. They continue to be either out of position, or a step or two late, or in position, but no threat to make a tackle.
Off the top of my head, Brandon Jackson looked to be the only positive to take away from today’s game. Period.
Wheels falling off?
A year ago Terrence Nunn fumbled on his way to the endzone against Mizzou. That score would have put Nebraska up 31-24 with under 7 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter. Instead Nebraska lost 41-24, and would go on to lose its next two to Oklahoma and Kansas.
This year Nunn fumbles away the chance for an upset over Texas and we follow that up with a horrible effort against OSU. With a match-up with Mizzou looming on the horizon you have to wonder if it is déjà vu all over again.
I might be bitter, but I don’t even care about the Big 12 North title right now. At this point, it seems an awful lot like being the valedictorian of summer school.
Watch this video and gain a ton of respect for Oklahoma State cornerback Martel Van Zant. Van Zant was born deaf after his mother contracted chicken pox during pregnancy. That has done little, however, to stop Van Zant on the football field. On the season he has 29 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble.
Van Zant uses an interpreter who sits through team meetings and film sessions and signs the necessary information to Martel. Defensive calls are also signaled in by hand from the sidelines.
Although Van Zant cannot hear the roar of the crowd, he still feeds off its energy:
“Because of the noise and everything, I can feel the vibrations in my body. I can’t hear the people, but I can see the people when they clap. I can see that, and it makes me get more motivated and play better.”
Obviously Husker fans will be reminded of former defensive tackle Kenny Walker who lettered for Nebraska during the 1989-1990 seasons. One of my greatest Nebraska memories was senior day 1990 when the Memorial Stadium crowd saluted Walker with arms outstretched and hands waving signifying the “deaf clap”. I still get chills now, just thinking about it.
Oh, and just to clarify for ABC:
Brady Quinn’s sister = Hackneyed (and a bit mannish)
Martel Van Zant = Human interest story
“No wife can endure a gambling husband, unless he is a winning one”
Last Week: 4-5 ATS
Season: 28-31-1 ATS
Although we got bit last weekend with another disappointing outing, nobody got bit worse than Alabama WR Mike McCoy. While warming up at home last week in his team’s pivotal SEC game vs. Tennessee, McCoy was catching some pre-game passes when he regrettably backpedaled into Tennessee mascot and Bluetick Coonhound Smokey IX. Smokey took a chunk out of McCoy’s leg that apparently drew blood and foreshadowed what was to come for Alabama as they later fell to Smokey and the Volunteers.
As you might recall, this is not the first such incident in an SEC game. UGA, the official bulldog of Georgia, took a lethal bite that narrowly missed at Auburn WR Robert Baker.
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Tennessee (-5) over South Carolina: Steve Spurrier has simply owned Phil Fulmer. In fact, he is 8-3 all time against him. However, last year’s win in Tennessee has had the Volunteers and Fulmer drooling all season waiting for payback. Tennessee is fresh off a win at Alabama in which QB Erick Ainge had 3 INT’s and saw the rest of the offense struggle as well, but were able to find a way to win. Fulmer brings in one of his strongest and more motivated team in years, and although S. Carolina is off of two consecutive wins, not going to happen here.
Hawaii (-26) over Idaho: The Rainbow Warriors might be the best team in the country nobody hears about. Their two losses this year were by 7 at Boise St. and 8 at Alabama (which happens to be the only team to hold them under 40). In fact this team put up 68 points at Fresno earlier in the year and is lead by QB Colt Brennan, who has thrown 28 TD’s this year to only 5 INT’s. This is the second best non-BCS team and expect their 438 passing yards/game to easily cover this measly 26 points.
BYU (-7) over Air Force: BYU is coming into this game by winning their last 4 games by an average of 46-12. QB John Beck has been tearing apart defenses with over 300 yards a game and an outstanding 16 TD’s to only 3 INT’s. Air Force is coming off a pathetic loss to San Diego State, which happened to be the Aztec’s first win of the season. Last time BYU came to town they won by 17 as an underdog, and look for them to easily match that again.
Ohio State (-27) over Minnesota: Last week, the Minnesota offense exploded for 10 whole points against North Dakota State and needed a block field goal as time expired to preserve a 10-9 victory at home against the vaunted I-AA Bison. Things get somewhat more difficult this week at The Horseshoe. Jim Tressel knows how the Gophers exploded for over 550 yards at home against the Buckeyes last year and how many Minnesota players are from the state of Ohio, not to mention Head Coach Glen Mason. The Buckeyes have big play potential all over the field with WRs Gonzalez and Ginn and RB Pittman. Look for a repeat of last week’s thrashing of Indiana as the Gophers will be lucky to score 10 in this one and Troy Smith solidifies his status as the Heisman front-runner.
USC (-11) over Oregon State: Faith in the Trojans is dropping faster than the housing market and Pete Carroll will have his USC squad motivated to show the country they are deserving of the #2 ranking. Oregon State comes off an impressive road win at Arizona that was no where near as close as the 17-10 final might suggest. However, USC is coming off a bye week and will have all of their WRs healthy for the first time in weeks. With hapless Stanford on deck, look for the Trojans to put together their best Pac-10 performance and pressure QB Moore all day. Oregon State was destroyed by Cal and Boise State earlier in the year and will be lucky to keep this one to 11 points in the first half.
Temple (+19) over Bowling Green: Before you throw this pick away faster than a no-talent, 21-year old actor can bag Paris Hilton, let me just remind you that Temple is now 2-0 against the spread vs. MAC teams this year. Bowling Green comes off a deflating loss at Central Michigan and unlike Falcon teams of the past, relies heavily on the run. Temple’s defense (well, their entire team for that matter) is atrocious and should have less confidence than Dr. D running around the Bloomington college bars. However, their run defense held Garrett Wolfe to just 45 yards on 17 carries last week and their offense scored on a couple of big plays in the 2nd half. Look for the Owls to come out strong as this is the ir only winnable game for the rest of the season.
Penn State (-3) over Purdue: Penn State struggled last week in a 26-12 win over Illinois in which they were actually outgained in total yards. However, Purdue has also struggled offensively this year and veteran QB Painter has 9 INT’s on the year. QB Anthony Morelli will be at a 100% this weekend for the Nittany Lions and will be helped out with the return of 2 all Big 10 lineman. Penn State has a significant edge here on defense and special teams and are in a must win situation here.
Cincinnati (-6.5) over Syracuse: Cincinnati has faced the likes of Pitt, Ohio State, Louisville, and Virginia Tech and has given them all tough games except for Ohio State. In fact, the Bearcats lost to Louisville 23-17 in a game that could have easily have been won. They have a potent ground game that is averaging close to 200 yards/game and will face a Syracuse defense that is near the bottom in all statistical categories. The young Bearcats have looked impressive the past few weeks and are clearly building on next year. Look for them exploit the weak Syracuse D and win comfortably here.
Weekly Guest Handicapper: J. ‘Double’ D.
Colorado State (-6.5) over New Mexico: Colorado State is coming off an embarrassing 24-0 loss last week at the hands of Wyoming. However, that is the same Wyoming team that held Boise to only 17 points in a 17-10 loss earlier this year. New Mexico is getting too much point value here as they are coming off a 34-31 victory over Utah. Colorado State QB Haine is completing 66% of his passes and the Rams boast a strong defense that will keep them perfect at home.
A recent article highlights that Brandon Jackson has separated himself from the rest of the stable of running backs. Jay Norvell notes:
“He’s really kind of separated himself I think, the way that he’s played. He’s made a lot of big plays the last three weeks.”
I agree that BJax has made some tough runs, as well as shown the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. However, weren’t we saying the same thing about Marlon Lucky just a few weeks ago?
In fact, I don’t think the following graphs showing the season as a whole demonstrate much separation at all.
Number of Carries by Game (Click to enlarge)
Rushing Yards by Game (Click to enlarge)
We have the luxury of four talented I-Backs and a coaching staff that has done a tremendous job of spreading the ball around. Most importantly, the players still seem to be comfortable with the system:
“Like Coach (Randy) Jordan says, it’s still a running back by committee,” Brandon Jackson said. “Whoever has the momentum, he says he’ll leave him in”
So why then does the media have an unrelenting need to seek clarification about which back sits atop the depth chart? Once again the Nebraska press is asking the wrong damn questions.
Here are some of the right damn questions:
· I totally understand that Maurice Purify doesn’t have a handle on all of the routes and plays within the offense. However, given that he is our best receiver, why not just call more of those plays that he DOES know?
· So, the week of the Texas game Steve Octavian’s hammy miraculously heals AND he is given back his blackshirt, thus allowing him to wreak havoc like a man possessed against the Horns. Are we missing something? Where is Paul Harvey with “the rest of the story?”
· Our execution of trick plays has been perfect on the year. Why are we less sound in our execution of more fundamental aspects, such as inside-out pass protection or defending deep sideline routes?
I’m just saying – use those column inches to tell us something more than, “Brandon Jackson has been playing well lately.”
In case you might have missed some of the action on Sunday because of a Texas-sized hangover, you missed some fantastic action. There were some improbable wins with none more improbable then the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Matt Bryant’s game winning 62-yard field goal vs. the Philadelphia Eagles. Bryant’s field goal was the second longest in NFL history behind only Tom Dempsey and Jason Elam who each had 63 yard field goals. Due to copyright restrictions, it was hard to come up with video of the kick for you. However, I am Sammy Vegas and I know some people who know some people who were able to get their hands on this exclusive video from the Tampa Bay sky box.
And now back to our regularly scheduled look at Huskers in the NFL.
Josh Brown (K Seattle Seahawks): Without Shaun Alexander and now without Matt Hasselbeck, the Seahawks appear to be reeling. Brown did his part again with 2 FG’s, but unfortunately it was in a 31-13 loss at home to the Minnesota Vikings.
Mike Brown (S Chicago Bears): In case you missed it, Brown is on the IR and will the remainder of the season after he tore the LisFranc’s ligament in his foot. On the other hand, the Bears are still undefeated and have San Francisco on deck at home.
Ralph Brown (CB Cleveland Browns): Ralph continues to make contributions for his Browns, but was able to record only 1 tackle as his team lost to the Denver Broncos 17-7. Surprisingly, the Broncos have given up only 2 TD’s all year.
Scott Shanle (LB New Orleans Saints): Shanle and the Saints had some time off this week and prepare to take on the Baltimore Ravens this week. The Saints are currently 5-1 but must prepare for a brutal schedule coming up.
Josh Bullocks (S New Orleans Saints): Bullocks, who obviously was also in a bye week, has a great season to date with 33 tackles. However, he still trails his teammate Shanle who has 36 tackles.
Dejuan Groce (CB New Orleans Saints): After being released by the St. Louis Rams before the season, Groce has finally begun to see some playing time the past few games with upstart Saints.
Daniel Bullocks (S Detroit Lions): The nightmarish season continues for the Lions and Bullocks as they dropped to 1-6 after a loss to the New York Jets. Bullocks, however, had a great game with 9 tackles, including 7 solo stops.
Correll Buckhalter (RB Philadelphia Eagles): Correll had 8 carries for only 31 yards as the Eagles lost a heartbreaker to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23-21. Tampa Bay kicker Matt Bryant hit a 62 yard field goal as time expired for a miraculous come from behind win.
Ahman Green (RB Green Bay Packers): In his first game back in weeks, Green racked up 118 yards on 18 carries, including a 70-yard TD run. The Packers got their second win of the season against the struggling Dolphins 34-24.
Mike Rucker (DE Carolina Panthers): Mike was able to record only tackle as his Panthers lost a close one to the Cincinnati Bengals in which QB Jake Delhomme threw a INT in the end zone with just at a minute to play.
Mike Minter (S Carolina Panthers): With 9 tackles and 5 solo tackles, Minter was not to blame for that loss to the Bengals.
Chris Kelsey (DE Buffalo Bills): Kelsey continues to impress with 2-5 Bills as he recorded 5 tackles, 4 of which were solo, and 1 sack. However, the team still lost to the New England Patriots 28-6 and appears to be headed nowhere.
Sam Koch (P Baltimore Ravens): Koch and the Ravens had the week off last week. The Ravens have lost 2 games in a row after starting 4-0 and must travel to New Orleans this week.
Kyle Larson (P Cincinnati Bengals): In a close win over the Panthers 17-14, Larson had maybe his best game in a season of great ones thus far. Although he averaged only 37.6 yards/punt on 8 punts, he dropped 4 inside the 20 and had a long of 54 yards. Larson’s has a great opportunity to make a trip to Hawaii come February.
Carlos Polk (LB San Diego Chargers): Although Carlos has been a part time contributor the past few season with San Diego, he still continues to see steady playing time as he recorded 3 tackles in a 27-24 loss in Kansas City.
Barrett Ruud (LB Tampa Bay Buccaneers): Ruud, who had 2 tackles, and the Bucs got their second win of the season on a dramatic 63 yard field goal as time expired. That field goal was the second longest in NFL history.
Fabian Washington (DB Oakland Raiders): Back from injury, Fabian helped the Raiders win their first game of the season with 1 tackle. The Raiders beat the Arizona Cardinals and Dennis Green 22-9, and I am sure Cardinal fans are waiting for the pink slip.
Demorrio Williams (LB Atlanta Falcons): Super Demorrio had one of his worst games of the year with only 2 tackles, but the Falcons improved to 4-2 in a OT win against the disappointing Steelers, who still have only 2 wins.
Grant Wistrom (DE Seattle Seahawks): Wistrom, along with the rest of the Seahawks, decided to take the week off at home against the Minnesota Vikings as they lost 31-13. Grant recorded 2 tackles.
Conference: Big 12
Stadium: Boone Pickens Stadium (Capacity: 44,700)
First Year of Football: 1901
All Time Record: 472-492-48 (.490)
Head Coach: Mike Gundy
2nd year as head coach at Oklahoma State: Career record 8-10.
Last Season: In Mike Gundy’s first year leading the Cowboys, the team sputtered offensively on their way to a 4-7 record.
This Season: OSU opened the season with blowout wins over powerhouses Missouri State, Arkansas State, and Florida Atlantic. The Cowboys have since dropped 3 of 4 and are 1-2 in the Big 12, with their lone win coming on the road against Kansas. Last week the OSU fell to Texas A&M 34-33 on a blocked extra point in OT.
On Offense: After struggling through most of 2005, the Cowboy’s spread offense may be finding its way. Oklahoma State currently ranks 12th in the nation while averaging 421 yards/game and 7th nationally in scoring offense (34.7 ppg). The key to the Cowboy offense is former hotshot quarterback recruit Bobby Reid. Reid struggled with his accuracy a year ago, but seems to have found his touch this season and is completing just under 60% of his passes for 1387 yards and 17 TDs. Reid also leads the Big 12 in yards per completion. Reid left the Texas A&M game a week ago with a after suffering a concussion on an option keeper, but is expected to start against Nebraska.
The Pokes’ running attack is led by sophomore Mike Hamilton. Hamilton, a second team All Big 12 pick a year ago, has great speed and agility, as well as surprising power. Hamilton currently has 498 yards and 4 rushing TDs.
OSU’s most dominating offensive performer is WR Adarious Bowman, who is a Limas Sweed clone at 6-4, 220-pounds. Bowman is putting up extremely impressive numbers in 2006, including 791 yards receiving and 9 touchdowns. The Cowboys also have receiving weapons in D’Juan Woods and TE Brandon Pettigrew. Woods has seen his numbers drop in the wake of Bowman’s emergence, but he is still more than capable of hurting defenses. Pettigrew is still young, but averages 13 yards/reception and has 2 TDs in 2006.
OSU’s offensive line is headed by RT Corey Hilliard. Hilliard, a 6-5, 310-pound senior should be an early round NFL selection after improving his pass blocking technique. The only other senior starter on the O-line is RG Kurt Seifried. Joining the two seniors on the line are sophomore center David Washington, junior LG David Koenig and LT Brady Bond who is a redshirt freshman.
On Defense: OSU’s defense has had a tough time stopping teams this year. The Cowboys currently rank 68th nationally in total defense (341.5 yards/game) and 62nd in scoring defense (22.3 ppg.). The majority of OSU’s struggles can be attributed to growing pains as they are still a very young defense. The front four of the defense is led by DE Victor DeGrate. DeGrate is a former linebacker who has added weight, but kept his quickness. He currently leads the team with 7.5 sacks and 9.5 TFL. On the inside the Pokes rely on Ryan McBean and Larry Brown. The two have combined for 7 TFL and 2 sacks.
The OSU linebacking corps has the potential to be great in a year or two. For now they are athletic, but inexperienced. 255-pound MLB Roderick Johnson is the most experienced of the three. Johnson has the size and speed to be a destructive force in the middle. He is currently 3rd on the team in tackles and also has 2 sacks. The outside LB spots are manned by Chris Collins and Alex Odiari. Collins is a true freshman and might be both the quickest and strongest of the three LB. Odiari was a big-time recruit two years ago. He has 2.5 TFL and has also recovered a fumble in 2006.
OSU’s leading tackler is speedy FS Andre Sexton. At SS, former QB Donovan Woods looks more comfortable after switching to the safety spot halfway through the 2005 season. Woods is starting to get himself in the correct position and has an interception and 2 forced fumbles in 2006. The OSU cornerbacks are Jacob Lacey and Martel Van Zant. Lacey is the speedier of the two, while Van Zant is more physical at 6-2, 205-pounds.
Special Teams: The pressure will again be on Nebraska’s kickoff unit, as Oklahoma State has two dangerous return men. Parrish Cox averages 31.4 yards/return and has taken one back 96 yards for a TD, while Grant Jones averages 39.0 yards/return. OSU’s kicker is Jason Ricks. Ricks is 6/8 on FGs on the year with a long of 53 yards. His only miss on extra point attempts was the block versus A&M. Matt Hodge is the Cowboy punter. He averages 49.2 yards/punt and has placed 6 punts inside the 20.
Series History: This marks the 41st meeting between the two teams. Nebraska leads the all-time series 36-3-1. Interestingly the Huskers dropped the first two games in 1960 and 1961, but did not lose another one to the Cowboys until 2002.
I Can’t Believe I Looked It Up Either: Since 1990, Nebraska is 7-2 following a home loss. During that same time period they are 5-0 following a loss to Texas.
These Are Their Stories…”dun DUN”: After the heartbreaking defeat to Texas A&M OT Corey Hilliard had this to say:
“I didn’t go out or nothing. I just sat in my room. I didn’t watch ESPN or nothin’. Actually I watched Law and Order and then I went to sleep.”
Well, He Was Supafly on That Day: The all-time Oklahoma State record for receiving yards in a game is held by one Curtis Mayfield (no, not that one). Mayfield torched Nebraska for 209 yards receiving in 1989. OSU’s QB in that game was Mike Gundy.
Six Degrees of Beano Cook: In 2005 Oklahoma State beat
Texas Tech. Texas Tech beat…Nebraska