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  1. 2011 Jun 08

    NEBRASKA FOOTBALL: Key Husker Matchups vs. Penn State Nittany Lions


    By HuskerLocker

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    By Brandon Cavanaugh

    Penn State is sitting in a very precarious position. Sophomore quarterback Rob Bolden is an amazing talent that can flat out win games for the Nittany Lions. The problem is that no one can say for sure if he’ll actually remain in Happy Valley and Bolden's keeping his decision tightly under wraps.

    The game's environment is a big plus for PSU as the Nittany Lions welcome Nebraska into Beaver Stadium following a bye week. The Cornhuskers’ arrival also marks Senior Day for the white and blue crew.

    Penn State’s Key Threats:

    QB Rob Bolden/Matt McGloin
    RB Silas Redd
    WR Derek Moye
    DT Devon Still
    LB Michael Mauti
    CB D’Anton Lynn

    The Problems:

    Bolden’s not Denard Robinson, but he’s got skills. Four upperclassmen help comprise his offensive line with its youngest member being sophomore guard John Urschel. One of Bolden’s best attributes is his pocket presence. He makes his reads quickly and delivers an accurate pass.

    If he gets an open lane, he doesn’t have the acceleration that other quarterbacks do, but he’ll turn third and long into a new set of downs. This is assuming that No. 1 will actually be under center for the Nittany Lions. If not, the story changes dramatically.

    Matt McGloin isn’t a horrific quarterback, but he’s no Bolden. He completed 55 percent of his passes in 2010 with a 14-9 TD-INT ratio. Penn State went 4-3 with McGloin at the helm in 2010 and the losses were to the most formidable of those seven teams (Ohio State, Michigan State and Florida). Simply put, he’s serviceable.

    Silas Redd looks to step in to replace the departed Evan Royster. As a freshman that had to split time with the Washington Redskin rookie, Redd showed flashes of something special as he rushed for 437 yards on 77 carries (5.7 YPC) and two touchdowns. Royster is so impressed with Redd that he believes the sophomore will eventually break his all-time school rushing record of nearly 4,000 yards.

    Moye has great size at 6’5” 200-plus, but his season is connected to Bolden’s decision more than perhaps anyone’s. He played well with McGloin as he snagged a touchdown during all but one of the quarterback’s games. Moye had his worst day against Ohio State and the Nebraska secondary will be just as stingy as the Buckeyes’ was.

    Still is a defensive tackle that is going to have to be accounted for just as much as Jared Crick will be for Nebraska’s opposition. The 6’5” 305-pound beast-man tallied 10 TFL and four sacks in 2010. He’ll be one of the ultimate tests for Mike Caputo and Nebraska's interior offensive line.

    “Linebacker U” is getting its reputation back after having six players drafted at the position in the last four years. Mauti is a warrior as he proved by playing through shoulder and ankle injuries last season. He still managed to rack up 67 tackles (32 solo), 5.5 TFL and two sacks despite the damage.

    Lynn was second on the team in tackles last year with 75 (38 solo) and tied for the most interceptions with three. He has a safety’s frame at 6’1” 210 pounds and isn’t afraid to get physical with any receiver.

    The Solutions:

    Bolden: The key to stopping Bolden is going to be coverage. Assuming that the Blackshirt secondary is its usual self, Nebraska’s defensive line should be able to penetrate and/or get enough of a rush on the outside. They need to be careful though. As mentioned, Bolden can bolt and if Lavonte David isn’t around to clean up a mess, it could be a long day.

    McGloin: Playing a vanilla defense may be enough to keep McGloin in check. If Bolden isn’t in uniform, things don't bode well for the Nittany Lions.

    Redd: He knows how to handle his business, but his inexperience is the edge that Nebraska’s front seven needs. If Nebraska forces him inside, they'll likely negate the PSU running game. Pelini's defenses take advantage of mistakes and Redd can be forced to make plenty.

    Moye: As mentioned, he didn’t have a good outing versus a Buckeye secondary that was ranked eighth in the country in pass defense last year. The news doesn’t get much better as plenty of depth from 2010's fifth-ranked Cornhusker secondary returns. Alfonzo Dennard, meet Derek Moye.

    Still: This one’s on the running game. If Nebraska can successfully double-team Still, long drives will do wonders to slow Still’s motor. A more likely scenario is that Still will win some battles and the Cornhuskers will be forced to regroup. Nebraska’s quarterback needs to account for the massive senior at all times as the margin for error is small.

    Mauti: At 6’2” 234 pounds, Mauti’s one of the more mobile linebackers that the Cornhuskers are going to face. While Nebraska does their best to negate Still from the equation, nickel and diming their way down the field with slant and drag routes is a great way to lull Mauti out of place.

    Lynn: He won’t be afraid to get his hands dirty against big-bodied Cornhusker receivers like Brandon Kinnie or Stanley Jean-Baptiste, but those two can scrap all day with Lynn if need be. Sticking a faster receiver such as Jamal Turner or Kenny Bell against him now and again makes for an excellent change-up.

    Other teams: Wisconsin, Michigan

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    Tags: rob bolden, matt mcgloin, silas redd, derek moye, devon still, michael mauti, danton lynn, jared crick, lavonte david, stanley jeanbaptiste, brandon kinnie, alfonzo dennard

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