Nebraska Defense Gears For Wake Forest Misdirection

Wednesday, September 5th 2007, 2:23 pm
By: News On 6

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ Nebraska's defensive coaches are preaching patience as their charges prepare for Wake Forest's misdirection offense.

``They get you going one way, and they have reverses that go the other,'' coach Bill Callahan said. ``They have throwback passes, sprint-out passes and some nice cross action on their dive series that they do really well. Our keys have to be exceptional. Our ability to focus in, diagnose and have the proper responses is going to be crucial for us.''

The Deacons (0-1), who host the No. 16 Cornhuskers (1-0) on Saturday in Winston-Salem, N.C., will look much different offensively than they did two years ago in Lincoln. That Wake team relied heavily on the run, but it didn't have much oomph in a 31-3 loss.

Nebraska scored three defensive touchdowns in that game, winning by a wide margin despite being outgained 247-234 and having possession 10 fewer minutes.

Last season, Wake's misdirection offense kept opponents off balance during the run to the school's first Atlantic Coast Conference championship since 1970. The Deacons have eight offensive starters back.

But they did next to nothing running the ball in a 38-28 loss at Boston College last week. The Deacons netted only 2 yards on 24 rushes. The passing game was sharp, with Riley Skinner and Brett Hodges combining to complete 45-of-60 passes for 366 yards.

Hodges _ who hit 14 of his first 15 passes and finished 17-of-23 for 130 yards and a touchdown _ will start in place of the injured Skinner (shoulder).

``It makes me happy that we'll have the upper hand. I'm sorry it went that way, but it makes us happy that we're not facing their starter,'' linebacker Steve Octavien said.

Safety Tierre Green said he doesn't read much into Wake's apparent struggle running the ball against BC.

``They just wanted to do some different things against Boston College,'' Green said. ``They tried to get the ball into the hands of their playmakers. Just looking at it, we can kind of tell who they want to have the ball in their hands. I definitely see it's going to be a test for us as far as going out there in that environment with an offense like theirs that has a lot of multiplicity and has some athletes.''

The Deacons had 10 receivers catch at least one pass against Boston College, led by Kenneth Moore's 15 for 126 yards.

``The No. 1 thing you say to yourself is: Who are their playmakers? And for Wake, the answer is all five of their eligible (receivers). If they could get the tackle out, he'd be a playmaker, too,'' Callahan said.

The Huskers held Nevada to 185 yards in a 52-10 win, with Octavien and Barry Turner combining for the defense's only sack. Nebraska made five other tackles for losses.

Callahan said the Huskers need to get more pressure on the quarterback. They also will be counting on all hands in the secondary.

``A lot of guys are going to play,'' Callahan said. ``Our sub packages become more important as they spread the field and put three and four wide receivers out there.''

That probably will mean more action for nickel back Zackary Bowman. He played 27 snaps against Nevada and made one tackle. It was Bowman's first game since injuring his knee the third day of preseason practice in 2005.

``It was good work for him and a good opportunity for him to get on the field and compete at a high level,'' Callahan said.