Blackshirts searching for another big day

November, 16, 2010
Add Quinn Mecham and Blaine Gabbert to the list of quarterbacks whose days have been ruined by a date with the Blackshirts.

Mecham was sacked six times in Kansas' 20-3 loss to the Huskers, completing just 3 of 13 passes for a hearty 15 yards and an interception. The entire Jayhawks offense was held to just 87 yards of offense in the loss.

Two weeks ago, with the Big 12 North hanging in the balance, the Blackshirts held Gabbert to 18-of-42 passing for just 199 yards in a convincing 31-17 win.

[+] EnlargeRyan Tannehill
AP Photo/Rod AydelotteSlowing down A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill will be important for the Nebraska defense.
Washington's Jake Locker and Idaho's Nathan Enderle also had career-worst days against one of college football's best secondaries.

"We're playing very, very well," said Eric Hagg, the lynchpin of the Huskers quarterback-perplexing Peso scheme. "But we can't get overconfident because we know we have to keep playing well."

They'll try to add Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill to their list of victims on Saturday, but the No. 19 Aggies are playing some of the best football on both sides of the ball of any team in the league since naming Tannehill the starter.

"The last couple weeks we haven’t had as many mental mistakes," Hagg said. "We’ve had some, but that and we haven’t had many missed tackles either. We’ve been swarming to the ball and that’s helping us out."

Texas A&M's downhill running game, with only one featured back in Cyrus Gray after leading rusher Christine Michael was lost for the season with a broken leg, is more effective than the one that helped hand Nebraska its only loss of the season, at home against Texas.

"You’ve got to have balance. You’ve got to be able to defend everything that they do," coach Bo Pelini said. "They’ve shown good balance, they’ve shown that they can hurt you in a number of different ways, so you’ve got to be able to prepare for everything that they can do."

Said Hagg: "They seem like they come out in one formation and then another one. They don’t line up in the same formations every time. They switch it around a lot."

Nebraska's offense has slowed as conference play has continued, in part because of a gimpy Taylor Martinez trying to regain his early-season form from an ankle injury suffered in the win against Oklahoma. Martinez didn't play in the overtime win over Iowa State, and didn't look like his usual self in the win over Kansas.

If that continues against an offense like Texas A&M's, it might take another virtuoso performance from Pelini's defense to come home from College Station with a win.

"We need to take the game plan that we put out there and play the way we’re coached to play," Pelini said. "If we do that, we’ll be in good shape. If we don’t we’re going to be in for a dog fight."



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