USC 2006: Game #2 Nebraska
When: September 16th
Where: The L.A. Coliseum
2005 Record: 8-4 (4-4 Big 12)
A lot has changed since the glory days of Tom Osborne and the dominance of 1990's. 3rd year Coach Bill Callaghan has left the Option behind and inserted the West Coast Offense.
The Nebraska Offense:
Senior QB Zac Taylor will handle the play calling duties. He threw for 2653 yards and 19 TD's in 2005. With Harrison Beck leaving due to his displeasure because of a lack of playing time, second-string duties will probably fall to sophomore Joe Ganz.
The O line should be improved and should be able to better protect the QB. They finished 107th nationally in rushing (last in the Big 12) and 96th total offense in 2005. Offensive Line Coach Dennis Wagner feels better about the line this year than he did last year. They need to open some holes for RB's Cody Glenn, Marlon Lucky and Leon Jackson as well as protect Taylor if they expect to do better on offense than they were in 2005. If they can protect Taylor, receivers Nate Swift and Terrence Nunn, who combined for 88 catches last year, along with returning TE Matt Herian, out last year with a broken leg, should see the ball a lot.
The Nebraska Defense:
The Defense seems to be the team's strength, though they lost a lot of talent at tackle and safety. MLB Corey McKeon led the team with 98 tackles with 22 for a loss. On either side he has Bo Rudd, Steve Octavien or Stewart Bradley. The D line will have to replace both DT's with Ola Dagunduro, Barry Cryer or Ndamukong Suh, to play with ends Adam Carriker and Jay Moore who can rush the passer. While all have experience, they led the nation with 50 sacks and 140 tackles for a loss; if the SC frontline takes care of business it will force the LB's to stack the line leaving man coverage in the secondary.
The secondary lost SS Daniel Bullocks to the NFL, so converted RB Tierre Green will either be at SS or CB. Andrew Shanle, Jr. will probably be at FS. Other CB's, Zack Bowman and Courtney Grixby fill out the secondary.
Coming off a bye week, and a probable win at Arkansas, SC's home opener will not be a cakewalk. SC should come out with a win. Nebraska is past its glory years but Coach Bill Callaghan has started to put it back together. He has used the JUCO route to put experience on his team, recruiting 12 in 2005. The loss of Beck at QB is a problem should Taylor go down, but the offense has 8 starters returning and should improve their PPG avg. Taylor's lack of speed will make him an easy target if the pocket breaks down and the SC secondary holds up.
The Nebraska defense has a lot of experience with 7 returning starters and allowed 21 ppg in 2005. Look for SC to try and exploit the secondary. With a much-improved Nebraska defensive front the SC O line will need to punch some holes for the new RB's to break through. Nebraska is the preseason pick by conference media to win the North and Steele has Nebraska as the most talented team of the Big 12 North.