football Edit

Five burning questions heading into Ohio State week

Will Nebraska be able to rebound in time to knock off Ohio State this week?
Will Nebraska be able to rebound in time to knock off Ohio State this week?

1. What is the latest injury report?

Nebraska's already lengthy injury list got a little bit longer after a very physical four-plus quarters at Wisconsin.

The biggest of which was right guard Tanner Farmer, who went down with a nasty looking ankle/foot injury on the third series of the game and had to be carted off the field.

Farmer was seen walking to the team bus after the game on crutches with a protective boot on his left foot, and head coach Mike Riley had no update on the sophomore's status during his post-game press conference.

On top of that, running backs Terrell Newby and Devine Ozigbo both suffered sprained ankles, while linebacker Dedrick Young left the game in the final minutes of regulation with an undisclosed injury and did not play in the overtime.

2. Can the passing game adjust?

Wisconsin only sacked Tommy Armstrong one time on Saturday night, but the Badgers may have come up with the perfect formula for how to fluster Nebraska's quarterback.

Rather than go all-out with their pass rush, UW dropped its back seven into coverage while the front four only gave a soft rush and spied Armstrong to keep him in the pocket.

Along with tipping multiple passes at the line - which resulted in two interceptions - that strategy forced Armstrong to have to move the ball with his arm and prevented him from improvising plays with his feet.

It will be interesting to see if Ohio State incorporates a similar game plan this week to try and make Armstrong one-dimensional. If so, Armstrong and Nebraska's offense better be able to adjust much better than they did on Saturday night.

3. Will Carter return this week?

While the statuses of several key offensive players are currently up in the air, there's a chance Nebraska could be getting back one of its top weapons this week.

Tight end Cethan Carter has missed the past three games while recovering from an elbow injury he suffered against Illinois on Oct. 1. Word was the original goal was to have him back for the Ohio State game, and that remains a possibility.

The senior showed major progress in his recovery last week, as he was able to run, catch passes and even do some light weight lifting.

It would be a huge boost if the Huskers can get No. 11 back on the field for Ohio State, as he's an invaluable asset both because of his ability as a receiver and his impact as a blocker in the running game.

Can the Huskers take more advantage of big play opportunities in the zone read game?
Can the Huskers take more advantage of big play opportunities in the zone read game?

4. Can NU get more out of the zone-read?

One area in which Nebraska struggled on Saturday night that clearly stuck with Riley after the game was the number of missed opportunities for big gains off zone-read plays.

While Riley didn't specify what exactly was the primary cause for those missed opportunities, he did say it was a matter of the Huskers not making the right decisions with the ball.

It's not hard to know the bulk of that comes back to Armstrong. Riley said he and his staff would evaluate the zone-read game heavily this week and try to find ways to improve their success.

Against a defense like Ohio State's which is just as aggressive as Wisconsin's, NU has to be able to exploit those chances when they get them.

5. Will the Huskers avoid a post-Wisconsin hangover?

Even in defeat, Nebraska still left Madison with plenty to feel good about from the fight and heart they showed in an emotional overtime battle on the road.

The question now is how quickly can the Huskers put that game behind them and set their focus solely on Ohio State?

Needless to say, the level of difficulty won't get any easier when NU heads out to Columbus this weekend. That means there can't be any hangover from a physically and mentally draining first loss of the season.

While the Huskers will want to use their performance vs. the Badgers as motivation, they can't afford to dwell on what could have been if they want to avoid a repeat result vs. the Buckeyes.