Before the season, the majority of people I had talked to pretty much wrote this game off as a loss. Everybody figured that OK we might slip past Minnesota, but playing away at Kalamazoo against one of the top MAC teams would be a hard thing to do.
Most of this perception changed during our road opender @ Minnesota. The game really was all over the place. Our offense looked like world-beaters at times, yet there was a lot of inconsistency. Same thing goes for the defensive side of the ball and on special teams.
An early conference opener means so much to each of these teams. An early win in the stacked MAC West Conference could do wonders for the self-confidence of your team.
Key #1 - Put pressure on QB Tim Hiller and force him to make mistakes
Although we may not have a defensive line as good as Nebraska's, we can use the same game plan against the WMU Broncos this week. Due to the fact that the running game was ineffective, all of the pressure was put on Hiller to make plays. He did a pretty good job going 30 of 49 for 342 yds and 2 TDs plus an INT.
If I were Tim Hiller, I would be having nightmares of Larry English leading up to this game. WMU's offensive line is one of the worst in the MAC and are going to have their hands full keeping our defensive linemen out of their backfield. Last week the Huskers had 4 sacks against Hiller. All of this helps our defensive backfield make plays and cause turnovers.
Key #2 - Establish a strong running game
WMU's secondary is far and away the best in the MAC, so the only way our offense is going to get going is by running the ball up the gut several times. WMU's d-line has talent, but are undersized and I'm confident that our o-line will be able to handle them better than the big Minnesota boys. We can use this to our advantage lulling their secondary asleep and throwing some play-action plays in there.
Key #3 - Continue improving on special teams
Our kicking game is (thankfully) situated with Salerno kicking bombs of 39 and 49 yards. We also had a blocked punt which was nice. Now back to the basics: Kickoff Coverage. The KO team was so horrendous last week and you cannot give an opposing team that much field position to start off offensive drives. Another thing we need to work on is getting better return yards from Me'Co Brown and whoever else is going to be back there on kick returns.
Key #4 - Cover TE Branden Ledbetter
Our Defense was lacking in our last game covering the TE's. Either our LB's or our Safeties weren't doing their job on coverage. Hopefully the kinks have been worked out with our defense and we can complete these tasks now. Ledbetter performed against the Big Red, catching 9 passes for 123 yds and a TD.
So there you have it. If we accomplish these few things, this game is ours.
Huskies 24, Broncos 18