ASU preps for dual-threat Nebraska QB
Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 13, 2012 17:09
With their home opener behind them, the Arkansas State football team turns its attention to a nationally-televised contest against the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
The Red Wolves journey to Lincoln, Neb. Saturday to face its second BCS opponent in three weeks.
The Cornhuskers entered the season ranked 17th in the AP Poll and advanced a spot after a victory against Southern Miss in Week 1.
Their upset loss to UCLA, however, sent them tumbling out of the rankings. Regardless, ASU recognizes the threat they face.
Nebraska boasts one of the nation’s most dangerous dual-threat quarterbacks—redshirt junior Taylor Martinez, who is regarded as a lethal runner.
He amassed 1,839 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground in his first two seasons, while averaging more than five yards per rush.
Against Southern Miss, he appeared to have made strides as a passer, as well, hitting his receivers 26 times for 354 yards and five touchdowns, but against UCLA he completed just over half of his passes for 179 and an interception. He did damage on the ground, however, rushing 12 times for 112 yards and a score.
“They’ve got a little old school in them, but they’re very good at what they do. They’re going to be a downhill running team. Their quarterback is a definite running threat,” head coach Gus Malzahn said. “Any time the quarterback is a run threat it changes things. It really looks like he’s throwing the ball real well this year.”
Martinez isn’t the only aspect of the Cornhusker’s potent rushing attack. Senior running back Rex Burkhead dashed for 1,357 yards and 15 touchdowns on his way to All-Big Ten honors last season.
Defensively, Nebraska returns eight starters from a unit that disappointed a year ago. Sporting stronger depth and more experience, especially in the secondary, their defense could provide a stiff challenge for the Red Wolves’ up-tempo offense.
The Red Wolves hope that their experience at Oregon will help them be resilient on the road in another hostile atmosphere. Malzahn indicated he hoped to see the tempo improve Saturday, saying he wanted to “have 80-plus plays.”
With the departure of senior wide receiver Allen Muse, ASU hopes Taylor Stockemer returns from an injury that caused him to miss the Memphis game. The senior, who is still day-to-day, was tabbed by Malzahn as perhaps the team’s “biggest weapon” and will be needed against a stout Cornhusker secondary.
“They have two returning corners, which were very good last year, so we’ll have our work cut out for us,” Malzahn said.
The game will be the second between the two teams. Nebraska claimed the first meeting in 2009, a 38-9 home victory, in front of 85,035 fans.
The team will be departing Liberty Bank Stadium at 11:45 a.m. Friday morning for its trip to Lincoln, Neb.Fans are encouraged to gather near the ASU football stadium beginning at 11:20 a.m. to cheer on the players and coaches.
The Red Wolves will kick off Saturday at 11 a.m.
The game will be televised on ESPN2.