5 questions with Corn Nation: Nebraska v Michigan State
The Nebraska Cornhuskers are heading to “The Woodshed” for a rendezvous under the lights with the Michigan State Spartans. The game will begin at 7:00 p.m. ET at Spartan Stadium and will be broadcast on FS1.
With that in mind, we spoke to Andy Ketterson of Corn Nation – SB Nation’s awesome website for all things Cornhuskers – about what to expect from this 2021 Nebraska squad.
Andy discusses the impact of Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez, what Cornhuskers fans really think about head coach Scott Frost and more.
1. Quarterback Adrian Martinez has been with the program for several years now. What does he bring as a leader to the Cornhuskers? As a double threat with his arms and legs, what’s the best way for the Michigan state defense to contain Martinez?
Andy: Adrian has earned the respect of his teammates and is personally a guy that I hoped to find lasting success simply because of the human being that he is. He is involved in the community. He got his bachelor’s degree in just three years and every time a quarterback does that I just wonder when they find time to sleep given the amount of study the position demands with the extra classroom work.
Most importantly, he’s a fantastic teammate and he never gives up. When Luke McCaffrey returned to starting work for two games in 2020, by all accounts Martinez never complained, continued to help Luke with the readings and the playbook, and doubled down to get the work back. By comparison, when Luke lost it, he essentially checked out, turned down requests to return to a Kordell “Slash” Stewart-type role, hit the portal to Louisville, then quit that program for Rice when the job started. was not guaranteed.
Martinez is tall, fast and elusive on the run, and can probably never be completely contained. Eventually, he’ll break the cover and escape for some big runs. The best strategy is to keep the pressure on him and break the rush and stay in spaces instead of stealing for the killing blow. In the past, this has caused him to force things that just aren’t there and turnovers ensue. That being said, he’s playing his most error-free ball since the opener at Illinois, and the Oklahoma game didn’t see any forced throws or uncontrollable runs (his only choice was an incredible one-handed grip. on a fourth). and -19 on the Oklahoma 24-yard line, which put the Sooners on their own two-year line. No complaints.) Can this continue? We’re starting to hope, but the four turnarounds you took in Miami last week have me temper that hope somewhat.
2. Besides Martinez, who are the players to watch on the Nebraska offense? And in defense?
Andy: On offense, that would be the receiving corps which – “potentially” being the key word – has five guys with NFL talent, something previously off the program. Samari Toure is a transfer from Montana, then screened as a sixth or seventh round, who wanted to try and show what he can do in the Power Five to increase his stock, and looks as good as advertised. Omar Manning is a 2020 junior college transfer who is the total package and is starting to show great ability after overcoming mental health issues. Xaiver Betts, a former local recruit among the 75 Rivals, does the same. Tight Wings Austin Allen and Travis Vokolec are two huge guys with both blocking skills and great playing ability that Scott Frost will often have together.
Defensively, it’s hard to pick just one. It’s a seasoned mix of young and old who have really come together so far this season, keeping Oklahoma at their lowest point total since Lincoln Riley took over. Look for Jojo Domann, a 230-pound senior hybrid outside linebacker who will both enter the backfield and cover a lunge receiver on a deep road.
3. Nebraska’s defense has been strong for four games, allowing just 15.75 points per game and just 190 passing yards per game. Ground defense is also respectable, allowing 156.3 yards per game. What makes the unit so good, and do you think the Cornhuskers will be able to contain the NCAA’s main rusher in Kenneth Walker III, or stop Payton Thorne and Michigan State’s passing play? ?
Andy: As good as Kennedy Brooks was for Oklahoma, Walker is going to be their toughest test yet. Ground defense numbers look good on the surface, but their surrendered yards per rush aren’t great, and the Cornhuskers lead the Big Ten in most runs of 20 or more yards dropped. The pass defense has been great, but if they have to charge up to stop it, Thorne and Jayden Reed can throw a few bags of big game poo into those stats. I think Nebraska’s ability to contain Walker without sacrificing too much pass defense will be key to the game.
4. Head coach Scott Frost has been tasked with turning the Nebraska program into a national powerhouse, but the Cornhuskers have struggled throughout his tenure. What are the general feelings of the Nebraska fan base regarding Frost and his team?
Andy: It’s basically split into three camps from where I’m sitting, and I have no idea of the statistical split.
A. The group was made up of people who never wanted him here in the first place, people who really believed Mike Riley was successful, and people who wanted Frost fired after the first or second season after it didn’t. did not transform immediately. These are the ones who never had good things to say, who constantly spread some pretty awful rumors around the internet about him and would rather see him go than see him succeed.
B. Intermediate groups. Some who just had it after three more losing seasons and if they weren’t done by then, the loss to Illinois almost slammed that door. And the group who are decidedly unhappy but understand that candidates for decent coaching will not line up to take over in this madhouse, are therefore simply in a state of helpless frustration and have ceased to be emotionally involved.
C. People who see the light at the end of the tunnel, believe in sticking with Frost but definitely fuel the state’s alcohol economy with every extra point missed, punt escaped or scoop fumble and score (Chug, curse, GBR Editor’s Note: “GBR” stands for “G0 Big Red”).
5. With two losses already before the start of the Big Ten calendar, how do you see the Cornhuskers ending the season (record, bowl game, etc.)?
Welp, being sort of the “Jiminy Cricket” around here (actually, I thought Nebraska could play Oklahoma by limiting errors), I saw gains in talent, strength and conditioning, which did not translate into victories. Over the past two and a half years, the worm has gone from the stadium of being blown off the pitch by any team with a heartbeat, to meeting better teams and then pissing off matches with farts. brainstorms and special team blunders. I’m not going to play game by game, but right now I see it ending 7-5 with some sort of “Gillette Trojan Progressive Kum ‘n’ Go Louisiana Beagle Bowl” in their future.
Bonus: score prediction?
We’ve been lucky there over the years and while I don’t see a red takeover in East Lansing, I still think we’re going to piss off Mel Tucker a bit by putting more than the 2,500 allotted on the seats (at least considering the ticket prices on StubHub yesterday). I think it’s going to be a battle with a score closer to ours last week than yours. I’ll say 27-23, Nebraska, but only because that score doesn’t require a winning FG from us (chug, chug, damn, pray, GBR).
Many thanks to Andy for answering my questions and providing his thoughts and analysis on the Cornhuskers. To keep up with everything Nebraska, donate Corn Nation to follow.
To read my answers to Andy’s questions, check out our conversation on Corn Nation.