Friday, November 2, 2012
Husker WRs, Spartan DBs showcase speed
By Adam Rittenberg
If you believe the Big Ten is truly a slow conference, a step or two behind the nation's elite leagues, tune into Saturday's game between Nebraska and Michigan State.
Keep a close eye on Nebraska receivers Kenny Bell, Quincy Enunwa and Jamal Turner, as they line up against Michigan State cornerbacks Johnny Adams and Darqueze Dennard. And prepare to change your mind about Big Ten speed. There will be plenty of it on the field at Spartan Stadium.
"Johnny Adams can run like the wind," Bell told ESPN.com this week. "He's the first guy in our conference that I can see who can legitimately run with every single one of our wide receivers. Dennard is a great athlete, physical guy, makes plays in the open field. ... I'm really looking forward to seeing our offense vs. their defense."
The Big Ten's top two units match up -- Nebraska leads the league in offense (489.1 ypg), while Michigan State is No. 1 in defense (267.4 ypg) -- and it should be especially intriguing to see who has the edge on the perimeter. Bell is the Big Ten's top big-play wideout, averaging a whopping 21.1 yards per reception with six touchdowns. Turner averages 13.6 yards per catch, while Enunwa averages 12 yards per catch. Tight end Kyler Reed also averages 13.3 yards per catch.
Bell has 10 receptions of 20 yards or longer, and Nebraska has recorded at least three such passes as a team in six of its eight games.
"Those guys are very, very good receivers," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. "Kenny Bell, I believe he's the third leading receiver in the conference. He's got great hands, a dynamic player ... They're big, physical guys that catch the ball very efficiently and go downfield with it. It'll be a challenge for our guys."
Michigan State surrenders just 5.5 yards per completion. Unlike some Big Ten corners who play off the line against the speedy Husker wideouts, Adams and Dennard will challenge them.
"It's just one of the important matchups," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. "... I like our our receivers. I think they're really good players. They're going to be challenged. Those guys [Adams and Dennard] get up in your face and play hard.
"Like a lot of other matchups, it's going to be one of the ones that we want to win."