Nebraska defensive tackle Jared Crick was named one of 12 semifinalists for the 2010 Lombardi Award which goes to the best lineman in college football. Nine of the 12 are on the defensive side and Crick is one of three Big 12 representatives. Crick has anchored the NU defense which ranks in the top 20 nationally in scoring defense (17.9 points per game, 17th) and total defense (305.9 yards per game, 18th) and has held five of seven opponents to under 300 yards of offense this season. Crick 31 tackles this season, including six tackles for loss and a team-high 3.5 sacks. The winner will be announced on December 8, in Houston.
Here’s the key to tomorrow’s game for the Huskers defensively. They will need to stop the Tigers rushing game. I know that sounds strange coming from a team with the spread offense, but NU’s front four will have to get pressure inside where Missouri likes to run. If the Tigers are put in third and long situations, they have a much harder time converting because teams drop 7 or 8 into pass coverage. Mizzou 11th in the Big 12 in third down conversions, under 38%. Missouri’s offense a much better second half team, so offensively the key for Taylor Martinez is to keep drives moving, time of possession will be big for the offense. On average Nebraska holding the ball just under half the game at 29:57. No team has been able to keep Missouri’s defense on the field for any length of time. Hold the ball in the second half, wear down the Tigers front four, banged up with loss of DT Dominque Hamilton and DE Aldon Smith still recovering from a broken leg.