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September 10, 2011

Fresno keys to victory and HOL staff predictions

After a disappointing performance on offense last week to start the 2011 season, the Nebraska football team will look to get things going today against Fresno State in Lincoln.

The Huskers enter today's game as a 28 point favorite over the Bulldogs. Here are today's keys to victory against Fresno State, along with our staff predictions on today's game and some other action around the country.

Offensive execution

Nearly every aspect of Nebraska's offense failed to execute up to the standard of Tim Beck and Bo Pelini last Saturday.

Whether it was poor angles or technique by the offensive line, dropped passes or missed blocked blocks by the wide receivers or poor execution of the option by Taylor Martinez Nebraska needs a much better day in the execution category on Saturday.

The coaching staff made it pretty clear to the team as they took the field to start practice on Monday. Now the question is what type of effort will we see because of it?

Shut down Fresno's running game

Expect Fresno State to come into Lincoln today and try to establish a running game.

Pat Hill has always been a run first coach, so that's why it's somewhat surprising they passed the ball 57 percent of the time in last week's loss at Cal.

One thing Fresno knows they can't do is risk quarterback Derek Carr in the pocket, that's why shutting down their run game will be key and it will take away a major element of their game plan.

Stay on schedule

Martinez really struggles in predictable downs and situations. This offense is at its best when Martinez has second short and third short to work with.

I think that's one thing we've really learned about him over the last two years. That's why it will be important to keep the offense on schedule when it comes to down and distance.

The worst nightmare for this offense is putting Martinez in predictable passing situations on third down where opposing teams can drop seven to eight defenders in coverage and spy Martinez with linebackers.

Don't give Carr time to look downfield

Carr will come into Lincoln with a very live arm. He has the ability to hurt Nebraska's young secondary if they get out of position.

It will be important for the Husker front four to apply plenty of pressure on Carr and not give him a lot of time to look down field and find potential breakdowns in coverage.

Play carefree on offense

Nebraska's offense last week almost tried too hard to make it work. When they take the field today they need to play more carefree and relaxed.

NU needs to stop worrying about making it look pretty and just worry about playing. They need to execute and play with confidence.

If Nebraska's offense can break off a few nice runs right away and Martinez can connect on some early passes it will go a long way in establishing confidence the rest of the way.

Callahan's weekly predictions

Fresno State will play Nebraska tough, but they are too banged up at key positions to match-up for four quarters. I expect the offense to have a much improved day from what we saw last week in the opener. The Husker defensive line should once again control the line of scrimmage. NU wins, but Fresno State will cover the 28 point spread.

Nebraska 38 Fresno State 20
Notre Dame 34 Michigan 27
Iowa 31 Iowa State 20

Season Record: 2-1 overall; 2-1 vs. points

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