No. 9 Michigan 5-0 heads to the city of Lincoln on Saturday to take on the 3-3 Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Both teams are coming off impressive victories, with Michigan beating Wisconsin 38-17 and Nebraska destroying Northwestern 56-7.
To get further insight into the state of the 2021 Nebraska team we spoke with Jon Johnston from SB Nation’s Corn Nation. You can find our conversation below in both podcast and transcript form.
On Nebraska’s 3-3 start
I think if you look at Nebraska is defense — it’s definitely changed on that side of the ball. You have guys that played physical and they played tough and they act like they’re having fun. They act like they want to be there. They’ve done pretty well.
So far this season, that’s not entirely translated on the offense yet. Last weekend we saw Nebraska actually execute decently in all three phases of the game. Michigan State, at one point we had a 93.6 chance of winning that game and Nebraska punts to the wrong side of the field and there it goes. It’s just dumb stuff like that.
I think Nebraska has changed quite a bit and it’s going to be very interesting to see what happens Saturday night against state 5-0 Michigan.
Adrian Martinez, o-line play
Everybody has this kind of love, hate relationship with him. His offensive line hasn’t provided him a lot of protection, but I think he’s got all the athletic skills on the planet. Sometimes he doesn’t make the best of decisions, but who does? And I think he is what makes the offense go and what happened against Northwestern — they kind of looked at the offensive line and they said, well, get your crap together or don’t play. And then against Northwestern, they completely switched up a lot of the guys that were on the line and it looked like they had the right combination. I mean, we beat up a Northwestern team, beat them up.
56-10 win against Northwestern
Beat up a Northwestern team, beat them up. It was like the most yardage ever given up by a Pat Fitzgerald team. You can look at that and say, well, they’re just Northwestern and you could look at it and say, nobody does that to a Pat Fitzgerald team. And you’d be right on both occasions.
Michigan’s going to come out running the ball. I think if we have possibly a weakness, it’s against the run. But I think our defense looks very good. They look like they’re the best defense since we had some guy named Ndamukong Suh tossing Colt McCoy around in the Big 12 Championship. I don’t really think there are weaknesses. Two years ago everybody wanted our defensive coordinator fired, and now he’s got a defense where he has players in place, and all over the board some decent playmakers.
At linebacker, and at secondary, very experienced and very good. Probably against the run might be the only weakness and that’s where you guys are pretty strong. So, that should be interesting, too.
Confidence in Scott Frost
You see a Scott Frost coached team that’s pulling things together. And again, Saturday night’s going to show us if we’ve got all of our stuff together so we can compete with one of the best teams in the nation. Or are we going to screw up in monumental fashion?
Thoughts on the Nebraska home crowd
Last Saturday night against Northwestern it wasn’t a football game as much as it was a giant therapy session for the state of Nebraska. Everybody enjoyed beating the snot out of Northwestern. That stadium was full of explosive joy.
I think you’re going to see that carry into this next week. People people have been kinda like, ‘I dont know if I want to do the football games, if we’re just going to suck and do stupid things.’ And after last week they’re going to show up and they’re going to be like blood-lust. We want more of this. I think the stadium is going to be a giant battery of energy for our football team.
How Nerbaska might start the game
The one thing that we did against Northwestern was on the first play of the game, Adrian Martinez hit Samori Toure for like an 80-yard gain. We didn’t throw some sideways path that goes backwards. We didn’t try running up the mill to see what the defense is going to do. We just went out and went bang, we’re going to kill you now right away. That will be interesting to see how Nebraska starts the game on offense.
Players to watch on offense
Samori Toure’s the big guy that everybody talks about. He’s been a very excellent receiver, transferred from Montana. The thing about Frost’s offense right now is he has a number of different playmakers. When you got some who can get open and get down the field. He’s also got Zavier Betts, bet who is a speedster.
He’s got Omar Manning who is a big, tall guy that’s starting to break out a little bit. We don’t know what’s going on with the running backs because we have like three that can be switched in and out at any moment. And they look pretty decent. Last weekend, a freshman named Jaquez Yant had a breakout game where he just looked like a destroying machine. If they start Yant, watch for that guy, because he just looked phenomenal. He looked like when he stiff armed people they died right on the field at that moment. That was fun.
Players to watch on defense
I’d say Jojo Domann, he’s kind of a hybrid linebacker, Luke Reimer, both linebackers, they both have been making plays all over the field. I think two years ago, we had like no linebacker play at all. I know we have exceptional linebacker play, so those two guys are going to be really important, especially stopping Michigan’s running games.
Confidence in kicker Connor Culp (5-of-10 on the season)
Connor Culp was the Big Ten Kicker of the Year last year, he was All-Conference. And then he goes to the Illinois game and he misses everything. And they’re like, what the hell?
He did a podcast with one of our other football players, I think last week, which he talked about dealing with anxiety and dealing with mental health issues. Do you trust him? It was interesting to hear a young guy talk about that. I think that he’s got his head on straight and you only prove that by playing the rest of the season
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