OU keys versus Nebraska

Thursday, May 26th 2011, 1:30 pm
By: News 9

Originally Published: Dec 2, 2010 8:47 PM CDT

&#160;</B></P>&#160;</B></P><U>OU OFFENSIVE KEYS VERSUS NEBRASKA:</U></B></P>&#160;</B></P>1.&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; </B>Handle the heat? &#160;Jones has looked like an all-conference the past 3 games, but Nebraska will dial up the pressure to a level he&rsquo;s not seen since throwing five picks against the Huskers last year. He&rsquo;s not going to convert 16 third down plays again this week. Jones can&rsquo;t force things, and can&rsquo;t get away with more than one or at most two picks. To become OU&rsquo;s sixth different QB to win a Big 12 Championship game Jones will have to exhibit one trait the others shared in these games: Being calm but being the playmaker. </B></P>&#160;</B></P>2.&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; </B>Line up big boys. The OL will not be expected to open enough holes that the Sooners will rush for 125 yards (I&rsquo;d say over/under on rush yards is 60). But they can&rsquo;t get afford to get stuffed and or miss assignments when Bo and Carl Pelini bring pressure. Basically they need to hold their own, continue to limit penalties and let their playmakers come up with enough plays to win a low-scoring battle. </B></P>&#160;</B></P>3.&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; </B>Separate the men from the boys. Separate the key word. NU&rsquo;s secondary is exceptional: Great talent and great coaching. Smallish slot Ryan Broyles will have his toughest test and will need some help from TEs, RB Murray and other receivers. But the key will be for Broyles to be able to separate from a physical secondary that will in coaching terms &ldquo;compete&rdquo; for every inch and &ldquo;compete for every ball.&rdquo; Nothing will come easy. Jones can&rsquo;t get stuck holding the ball in the pocket extra long because Broyles is stuck or OU will be stuck in neutral. And while you won&rsquo;t need but 21 points to win, being stuck in neutral would make it a very challenging to cross the stripe thrice. </B></P>&#160;</B></P><U>OU DEFENSIVE KEYS VERSUS NEBRASKA: </U></B></P>&#160;</B></P>1.&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; </B>Will T-Magic play? Taylor Martinez has an improving ankle and a more concerning problem on the other foot--turf toe. OU would be in trouble if he was full-speed and played to potential. But his game is speed, and if he can&rsquo;t accelerate enough to separate from tacklers he will not help his team. He killed OSU with the pass because they couldn&rsquo;t stop him runningnot a good thing. The other pressing issue is that he seems like he could be a disruptive force; one that&rsquo;s not worth messing with if you&rsquo;re Bo Pelini and the Big 12 title is on the line. My sources have told me all week he&rsquo;s been in a boot most of the time, but he got a lot of work in on Wednesday. He might give it a go, but my guess is that he will either not step on the field, or he will not be effective enough to get substantial snaps. This would weaken NU, but they&rsquo;ve won without him and Cody Green has Zac Lee coming back from a hand injury to share some time with him. &#160;And that leads us to the second key.</B></P>&#160;</B></P>2.&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; </B>Bottle Burkhead-Rex Burkhead will essentially be a QB when he takes quite a few snaps out of the Wildcat package. &#160;OU DBs can&rsquo;t get overly aggressive or the Texas schoolboy QB can burn you with the pass (two TD passes last week). Burkhead is an underrated runner as he reads blocking very well. The talented-but-a-tad-banged-up Roy Helu, Jr. shares snaps with Burkhead. But if Martinez is out, OU&rsquo;s focus must be on keeping the wraps on Burkhead. </B></P>&#160;</B></P><B>3.&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; </B>Confuse and cover-OU does a good job of disguising coverages and not letting QBs get a bead on when and from where blitzes are coming. Like NU, OU DBs&#160; can cover well enough to make the QB stand in the pocket and pat the ball longer than they&rsquo;d like. The more antsy the QB the better as a key for the Sooners is making NU&rsquo;s QBs beat them. </B></P><B>&#160;</B></P><B>&#160;</B></P><B><U>OU INTANGIBLE KEYS VERSUS NEBRASKA:</U></B></P><B>&#160;</B></P><B>1.&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; </B><B>Jimmy Stevens must continue making the chip shot field goals. But NU&rsquo;s Alex Henry is the most gifted overall special teams player in America. Outstanding punter and even better kicker, Henry will be money from at least 50 and in, especially with indoor conditions. When the night&rsquo;s over, OU needs the special teams showdown to turn out a wash. </B></P><B>&#160;</B></P><B>2.&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; </B><B>The team with the least number of turnovers wins 80 percent of the time.&#160; No reason this time it&rsquo;ll be different. OU comes in a little better in turnover margin. Nebraska hits harder than any team they&rsquo;ll see so holding onto the ball is critical. But the bigger concern is that QB Jones must limit mistakes and turnovers or NU will walk out of Arlington and walk out of the Big 12 a champion. Prediction coming Friday night. </B></P><BR/>