What makes this weekend’s matchup intriguing in my mind is the matchup between Nebraska’s offense and Missouri’s defense. When I watch the Huskers offense and the running game is clicking, I see the offensive line blowing defenders off the ball and getting five, six yards down the line of scrimmage.
When I watched Missouri take on Oklahoma on Saturday, I noticed that for the first time a Missouri defense that had the speed to keep up with a talented team like OU. Offensive line coach Barney Cotton noticed it as well.
One of the main anchors for that Missouri team is Aldon Smith, the 6’5 260 pound defensive end. If you saw that game, Smith picked off a pass and went 58 yards the other way before he was finally tackled and the only reason he was caught is he says he ran out of gas. That’s because it was his first game in almost a month after he fractured his fibula and was playing the game in a cast.
To give you an idea of how fast he is, he was shadowing OU running back DeMarco Murray in the second half and he’s running on one and half legs. Cotton says speed is a big part of Smith’s game. Not only is he a concern with dropping back into coverage, but what Smith excels in is his pass rush. Last year, Smith had 11.5 sacks as a freshmen.
Nebraska will not see a faster defense this season than Missouri and that includes Texas. Missouri lost their top defensive tackle Dominque Hamilton to a broken ankle, but they have depth on their line and that will be fun battle to watch, the NU offensive line against the MU defensive line.
One more thing to watch, the Tigers like to leave their cornerbacks in single coverage, if the Huskers can get Martinez scrambling around a bit he may be exploit the corners if they don’t stay home with their receivers.