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October 24, 2009

Callahan's take: Offense must find itself

After a disappointing outing last Saturday, Nebraska must get things on track against Iowa State today.

The Huskers and the Cyclones will meet today at 11:30 a.m. and as things get closer to kickoff, here are my five keys to victory against Iowa State. The biggest thing NU must obviously figure out this week is what they want to do on offense.

Find an offensive identity

The general consensus over the last few weeks for Nebraska is their offense has failed to develop any sort of identity. What can NU hang their hat on? What two or three things do they do well?

NU offensive coordinator Shawn Watson has been asked these questions after the last two weeks and I don't even think has a straight answer to the question.

Does NU want to run it between the tackles or do they prefer to run out of a spread look? What happened to the downfield passing game? These are all questions Husker nation wants to know and hopefully we'll get some better answers today.

Zac or Cody?

Head coach Bo Pelini and Watson have kept true to their word about the quarterback situation being a game time decision between junior Zac Lee and freshman Cody Green.

Not a word has been leaked out from Watson or Pelini on which direction they are leaning for today's game. The easy answer is to stick with Lee and give him another chance. But on the flip side if you are going to give Green a chance to start, this may be the week to do it against a team like Iowa State at home.

This is no doubt a tough call, but then again that's why guys like Pelini and Watson make the money they do to make these types of decisions.

Shut down Iowa State's running game

One of the biggest keys to shutting down Iowa State on Saturday will be to contain their ground game led by running back Alexander Robinson.

Robinson currently leads the Big 12 in rushing and a lot of what they do is placed on his shoulders. If NU can shutdown the Cyclone running attack, it could be a very long day for their offense, because it will take away their ability to run the play action pass.

Eliminate mental errors

Mental errors and mistakes continue to haunt this football team on weekly basis. NU has been plagued by back breaking penalties, dropped passes and protection breakdowns the last two weeks.

The Huskers need to find a way to eliminate these types of mistakes. Plays like Ricky Henry's personal foul penalty and Niles Paul's fumble literally changed the complexion of Saturday's game.

Playing angry

I expect to see an angry team take the field today in Lincoln. I think NU has taken the criticism personal this week in practice, particularly Watson and the offensive staff.

I think a very focused team will take the field both offensively and defensively. ISU is also banged up at some key positions on offense. I see the Cyclone offense struggling to move the ball with any consistency on Nebraska. The defense will set the tone and force a couple of turnovers to help the offense get going. In the end, Iowa State does not have the talent to match-up with the Huskers. I see NU cruising to victory.

Callahan's Prediction:Nebraska 31 Iowa State 10
Season Record: 5-1 overall; 4-2 vs. points

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