Game Week Q&A: Talking Nebraska Football With The Guys From Corn Nation

Eric Francis

It's time for one of my favorite Q&As of the season, when the guys from Corn Nation take a crack at answering my questions about the UM-Nebraska game.

Be sure to check out Corn Nation this week and follow them on twitter.

The last two years, Nebraska hasn't done all that well against the Michigan defense, what were the problems in those games and what could make a difference this year?

Aaron: Nebraska shot themselves in the foot in 2011 and put themselves in a hole that required the offense to pass a lot more than they wanted to. In 2012, they didn't need much offense. Bellomy was not prepared to take over when Robinson when down and the Huskers were very conservative.

COBBY: BUT, IF WE ASSUME THAT IT WAS MICHIGAN'S DEFENSE THAT WAS OUR PROBLEM THE PAST TWO YEARS THEN I WOULD ATTRIBUTE EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED TO ALL THOSE BIG STRONG MICHIGAN MEN THAT HOKEY-POKEY IS RECRUITING. ON A SIDE NOTE, I THOUGHT YOU GUYS HAD BETTER RECRUITS THAN LITTLE BROTHER. WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED LAST WEEKEND?

Aaron: Don't mind Cobby. He's a little off the deep end. He tries to entertain us at Cornnation. Nebraska is very beat up on offense right now. You know about Taylor Martinez. We needed our third string QB on that last drive to survive against Northwestern. We've had quite a few linemen go down the past couple of weeks and we have a converted LB that saw 5+ targets last week at WR. The only spot on offense that we seem healthy at is our RB spot. The offense was suppose to be our strong point this year, but it could be another rough week for our them in Ann Arbor. I would expect Michigan's defense too look good again against Nebraska this weekend.

Jon Johnston: All I remember about the 2011 game was going to the beer store during the third quarter and (allegedly) shooting the beer store guy for making fun of me. 2012, well, hell, we scored enough to win. The biggest problem was Taylor Martinez. It's always Taylor Martinez. He's out this week, so we'll have to find someone else to blame. No, that's not it. Imani Cross will make the difference this year. He hasn't been used much and he could run over six guys and make three or four yards a carry. That's so B1G!

Taylor Martinez has struggled with injuries this year, and backup Tommy Armstrong has gotten a lot of snaps in his place. Will Martinez be a go this weekend against Michigan, and if not, what does Armstrong mean for this offense?

COBBY: I'VE GOT A BET GOING ON THIS GAME FOR A CASE OF ARMSTRONG BEER. I THINK IT'S FROM PENNSYLVANIA, WHERE EVER THAT IS. N IS FOR NOWLEDGE RIGHT? IN NEBRASKA, WE DON'T CALL THEM "SNAPS", THOUGH. WE CALL EM SWIGS. MUST BE SOME CRAZY MICHIGAN "LINGO".

Aaron: Martinez may be done for the year. Tommy has seen a lot of playing time, and at times has shined, but he's still learning the system. He's had six interceptions in his last two games (3 vs. Northwestern and 3 against Purdue). He is best when he can run the ball behind a healthy line. But the line isn't healthy right now.

Husker Mike: I don't know about out for the season, but Martinez is out for this week's game. So it'll be another tag-team of Armstrong and Ron Kellogg, who you've been seeing all week throwing the winning touchdown pass. Armstrong is the more mobile quarterback and might have the stronger arm. But he's inexperienced (witness the six interceptions in the last two games), and "Uncle Ronnie" is the more fundamentally sound signal-caller.

Michigan's defense this year has been a classic bend-don't-break unit that doesn't do a great job limiting yardage totals, but makes teams execute down the field. Indiana beat this with tempo. How will Nebraska do if Michigan forces the Huskers to go 10+ plays to score? Can Nebraska beat UM for big plays?

COBBY: BEND-DON'T-BREAK? ARE WE TALKING ABOUT THE SAME SORORITY CHICK FROM EAST LANSING I CONSOLED AFTER NEBRASKA'S WIN THERE LAST YEAR? THE TWO OF US HAD GOOD TEMPO, BUT PLEASE DON'T ASK ME TO GO 10+ PLAYS TO SCORE WITH HER AGAIN. IT WASN'T REALLY WORTH IT.

Aaron: I think Nebraska is going to have a tough time on the road moving the ball. If Michigan can exploit a banged up offensive line, then they should have a field day against Nebraska. If the Wolverines can't, then Nebraska will get their yardage and points to go with it.

Jon: Imani Cross, Ameer Abdullah. Once in a while we might throw a pass. No... wait. We'll have to throw every other play because you'll stack the box and our offensive coordinator will throw the ball all game. Will our star receivers play, or are they injured? That's key. If we don't know who's playing, Michigan won't either. They won't know who to cover and we have a lot of good offensive players all over. Alonzo Moore - heard of him? Jordan Westerkamp? You will Saturday, unless the starters play, and then you won't. Jamal Turner, Kenny Bell, Quincy Enunwa. You can't stop them... as long as they can get the ball.

The Nebraska defense is much maligned this year. The Huskers are giving up 4.5 yards per carry - better than only three other Big Ten teams. Do you think Nebraska can find more success against UM's beleaguered offensive line?

COBBY: MY DRINKING BUDDIES HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT HOW AWESOME GAME OF THRONES IS, SO I HAVE BEEN READING "A STORM OF SWORDS" LATELY. WHEN KING'S LANDING WAS BELEAGUERED, THEY JUST SENT OUT THE MUCH MALIGNED IMP TO GO CHOP THE BAD GUYS INTO BITS. IF NEBRASKA CAN FIND AN ARMY OF DWARFS, I DON'T SEE WHY THEY CAN'T GET THE SAME RESULTS AGAINST MICHIGAN.

Aaron: We have a solid line and a solid secondary. Our LB's have been young and inexperienced. They looked a lot better after they made adjustments at halftime against Northwestern, but they hold the key to whether Nebraska's defense will be good this weekend or not. If you can expose their inexperience, you will be able to move the ball. I'm actually very curious about how well Nebraska's front four will do against Michigan's line. I'm cautiously optimistic that we can get to Gardner a few times.

Husker Mike: I like Nebraska's defensive line; Randy Gregory and Avery Moss are future B1G stars at defensive end. But the real question is at linebacker where Nebraska is looking for the right combination and some consistency.

Jon: Yes, because they're beleaguered. We're merely young and inexperienced, hence the inconsistency.

Devin Gardner, when not running for his life, has been a very capable quarterback at generating big plays both on the ground and through the air. Michigan leads the Big Ten in yards per pass attempt and he has the most rushing TDs of any quarterback in the conference. Can Nebraska slow him down?

COBBY: I WAS ONCE ENGAGED WITH AN OHIO STATE CHICK. HER FATHER ACCUSED ME OF MESSING HER UP WITH TOO MANY ATTEMPTS OF BIG PLAYS ON HER. APPARENTLY, HE THINKS THAT I WAS COMPILING TOO MANY sTD's RUSHING. I TOLD HIM THAT I WAS NEVER IN A FRAT AND THE ONLY TIME I WAS EVER EVEN A PART OF A FRATERNAL OUTING WAS BACK WHEN I PUT A PAIR OF HIS DAUGHTERS MICHIGAN *AHEM* UNMENTIONABLES ON THE WOODY HAYES STATUE. HE BROKE OFF OUR ENGAGEMENT AND I'VE BEEN RUNNING FOR MY LIFE EVER SINCE.

Aaron: I'll be honest. I haven't watch Michigan play much this year. Just the highlights and the game recaps. From what I can tell you about Nebraska, I would say that Michigan should be conservative and wait for their opportunities to strike. Gardner doesn't need to be fantastic, but he needs to protect the ball and get it to his playmakers. Nebraska will likely make mistakes that will create opportunities for Michigan.

Jon: No. He's a mobile quarterback. Our only hope is that your offensive coordinator calls dumb plays the whole game and Gardner repeatedly runs into Moss and Gregory and fumbles every other time he tries to scramble. This is a distinct possibility, isn't it?

The Huskers have had an up and down year, but are still the only team in a position to potentially catch Michigan State in the race for the Legends division title. What do you think the keys are for a Husker victory this Saturday, and what is your final prediction?

COBBY: WE ARE SO DEAD. THE WORLD IS COMING TO AN END. WE SHOULD HAVE LOST TO NORTHWESTERN. WE DID LOSE TO MINNESOTA AND YOU GUYS KICKED THE CRAPOLA OUT OF THEM. EVERYONE IS HURT. DOGS AND CATS, MASS HYSTERIA, ETC. MICHIGAN HAS THEIR WAY WITH WITH NEBRASKA AND THEY FEEL LIKE THEY ARE BACK AND WILL DESTROY tOSU AT THE END OF THE YEAR. MY PREDICTION? OHIO STATE 56, MICHIGAN 13

Aaron: Michigan is starting to remind me of what Nebraska was a few years ago (and still is). Decent coaches. Decent teams. Decent all around. But stuck in neutral. Not really getting better, not really getting worse. So we'll call this the battle of the "trending sideways" teams. Both squads are banged up and will probably make mistakes. Gonna be a messy game that could go either way. My brain says Michigan 27, Nebraska 10. My heart says Nebraska 24, Michigan 21.

Husker Mike: Key #1 is to contain Devin Gardner and keep him from running too much. Key #2 is to be able to run the ball. My prediction? Ahhh... Huskers 26, Michigan 20

Jon: My first key - drink heavily, probably start on Thursday. Second, abandon hope. After that, we'll play loose and crazy. That's the only way we'll win - if we don't get all mentally constipated with schemes and don't turn the ball over and run the ball to eat the clock. Bo Pelini coaches well in November. I applied to Michigan when I graduated from high school - it was the wings on the helmet. Does anyone know anything about this game? No. I know the beer store guy doesn't want to get shot again, though. Nebraska 31, Michigan 30

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