Thursday, October 25, 2012

Nebraska Players To Watch

There are 5 games left in the 2012 regular season, and Michigan still controls their own destiny. They had a great win over Michigan State last week, but to continue further in their quest for the Big Ten title, they must not overlook Nebraska. Both teams enter the game with an overall record of 5-2, however the difference being is that Michigan is undefeated in the Big Ten, and Nebraska is not.

Michigan has a stretch of all Big Ten Legends opponents that began with Michigan State, and now they need to beat Nebraska to fully harness control of the division. Not only does Taylor Martinez possess the highest passer rating in the Big Ten, but Nebraska also leads in points per game, 4th in passing yards per game, 2nd in rushing yards, and first in sacks. Needless to say they're a prolific offense with an opportunistic defense, and they hope to avenge last years 45-17 loss in the Big House. Here's a few players to look out for:

Taylor Martinez
Let's start off with Taylor Martinez. Martinez is still a top dual threat, and he's getting more done with his arm  than he has in previous seasons. He has thrown for 16 TDs on the season with 1615 passing yards. Martinez struggled through the air -- 9 of 23 for 122 yards and a TD -- and on the ground -- 16 carries for 49 yards -- last year at Michigan. Don't expect that to happen again this year. Michigan's defense is better than some people thought, and they've improved with each game, but they still have mental lapses and the tackling isn't as good as it can be. Martinez might be able to exploit the secondary, and he is always a threat to run the ball, an asset Michigan never seems to defend well against. Martinez isn't as explosive as Denard while running the ball, but he is still averaging 4.7 yards per carry, and has the same number of rushing touchdowns as Denard with 6. Michigan's defense is the X-factor in this match-up, as they have allowed only 23 points in their last 3 games.

Ameer Abdullah
While Rex Burkhead is out due to injury, it has been up to Ameer Abdullah to shoulder the load of the running game, and he's been doing a fantastic job. Abdullah has had carries in every game so far this season, and is averaging 5.9 yards per carry with a total of 615 yards and 7 TDs. What Fitz Toussaint was to Michigan last year, that's what Abdullah is this year. Keep in mind that although Michigan's defense is better, as I've said before, Nebraska's offense is ranked 6th in the nation in rushing yards. Now between Martinez and Abdullah, that is no mistake. They can both be home run hitters when called upon. Now Burkhead could still be out due to injury, but I wouldn't be surprised if he tried to give it a go and gets 5-10 touches during the game.

Kenny Bell
Now with all the options Nebraska has to run the ball, they still need a receiver to throw it to, and the only guy who consistently fits the bill is Kenny Bell. Bell has 540 yards so far with 5 TDs. It might not seem like it, but when you take into account he has only 26 receptions (avg of 3.7 catches per game) then that means he gets a lot of yardage after the initital catch, which is a great attribute for any receiver. Also the next best receiver is Quincy Enunwa, who barely has half the yardage that Bell does. If Michigan's secondary, particularly the corners can keep a bead on Bell, and pressure him to drop the ball, then the passing game of Nebraska shouldn't be too much to worry about.

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