Let Hornibook Work:
Although the “is-Alex-Hornibrook-good-debate?” rivals that of “Coke or Pepsi,” the Badgers would do right to put the ball in their quarterback’s hands.
The junior quarterback showed his cool-as-ice throwing ability in the late victory over the Iowa Hawkeyes. In their previous game against Purdue, Nebraska was hit fast and hit hard for a whopping 300 plus passing yards.
Tight end Jake Ferguson and wide receiver AJ Taylor should prove more than capable in this task as they lead Wisconsin in receiving yards and have been Hornibrook’s go-to targets throughout the season.
Oftentimes, it comes down to which team has the better quarterback, and Hornibrook’s has shown and will show that he can outduel Nebraska’s freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez.
Just Stomp Them:
Running up the score is considered by many — rightfully so — as an act that only the Devil himself or Bill Belichick would do. Once certain victory is obtained, surely there’s no need to rub it in.
This mindset won’t do.
The Huskers, except the 56-10 stomping by the Michigan Wolverines, have led spectacular what-if comebacks in each of their losses. Powered by their scrappy freshman quarterback Adrian Martinez, Nebraska has gone down swinging, itched and clawed and whatever other stereotypical “gritty” sayings you can think of all the way to the bitter end.
When the Wolverines feasted on the Cornhuskers, they continued to make the scorekeeper earn his pay and this in turn knocked any and all spirit out of Nebraska. Wisconsin would do well to follow its Big Ten rival’s formula and think back on its incessant 45-14 clobbering of New Mexico four weeks ago.
Style points matter for CFP conversation, too.
Watch the Dual Threat
Few quarterbacks who possess the dual-threat ability of passing and running last very long in the hard-hitting and injury-prone sport of football, but that doesn’t mean they’re not scary now.
Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez has shown off his spit-fire engine with over 200 yards of total rushing for his team. His frequent use of the read-option play will pose a difficult test for senior linebackers TJ Edwards and Chris Orr to maintain the edge and not let Martinez break free for big gains.
Although, Wisconsin has shown the ability to dial up the pressure despite having just four sacks on the season, a few well-executed blitzes should unsettle the young gun behind center.
Indeed, Martinez certainly won’t be able to run his way to victory, but if he gets going it will open up the playbook as the Badgers will be reacting instead of acting on defense.
Capitalize in Red Zone
If the Huskers are able to fight tooth and nail past the Badgers’ defense and reach the red zone, they could find it easier to hit pay dirt as Wisconsin may finally break when inside that 20 yard line. A majority of UW’s touchdowns allowed, save for a few big plays, have come in the red zone.
This seems to suit well for the Cornhuskers who have shown a knack for scoring in this area thanks to their hard-running running backs, speedy receivers, and agile quarterback.
Read-options, quick-throws, and fierce running could prove to be the solution against the hawkish Badgers defense. Nebraska needs to be able to punch their offensive ticket and not settle for field goals if they hope to stand against the elite Wisconsin defense and overcome their 0-4 record.
Improve Return Defense
No, I’m not talking about trying to beat Wisconsin in a mano e mano shoot-out. I’m talking about everybody’s (ok, maybe not) favorite football positions: the gunners.
These underrated special teams players are responsible for getting past their blockers and tackling the punt returner before he can break loose. They have been also been a noticeable weakness for Nebraska.
In their games against the Troy Trojans and Michigan Wolverines, Nebraska gave up long punt returns for touchdowns. These two returns had three things in common: the gunners allowed the returner to catch the ball in open space, the other defenders were slow to pursue, and they were ugly.
Although Wisconsin hasn’t had much success on special teams this year, witht speedy returners like Aron Cruickshank and Jack Dunn, might as well not let them start against you.
Containment is key in order to win the battle of field position and prevent any “easy” drives for UW.
Keep the Ball
Nebraska’s inability to win games isn’t due solely to turnovers, but it certainly isn’t helping. The Cornhuskers have a bad case of butter-fingers as drops, fumbles, and interceptions have downed this team’s chances and had Nebraska staff looking to see if stickem was still legal (it’s not, btw. I checked).
They must reduce their giveaways to zero and keep their defense off the field or reap the consequences. Indeed, Wisconsin has been opportunistic in the takeaways department, so it would be best if Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez only threw to players on his team and freshman running back Maurice Washington didn’t put the pigskin on the ground any time soon.
This team isn’t without its sparks, though. Nebraska has shown its ability to keep up offensively with teams if they’re able to play smart and efficient football. It’s just a lot easier to do that when you actually have the football.