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3 Offensive Keys for the Nebraska-Oregon Game
Photo Credit: Aaron Babcock

3 Offensive Keys for the Nebraska-Oregon Game

September 05, 2017

Oregon's new offense rolled to 77 points and more than 700 total yards in Coach Willie Taggart's Duck debut, a season-opening win over Southern Utah.

Nebraska's old offense, with new quarterback Tanner Lee at the helm, looked closer to what most Husker fans expected from Mike Riley and staff for the past two years – an efficient offense capable of controlling the clock and occasional bouts of explosiveness.

Those two styles collide on Saturday in Eugene. To help break down what each offense needs to do in this game, I teamed up with Justin Hopkins of

Here are our three keys on offense.

Brandon Vogel –

1. First Downs First: Every college offense is better when it's efficient on first down, but Nebraska's offense really thrives on it. The Mike Riley/Danny Langsdorf offense isn't as explosive as some others, but it's conceptually strong. It stresses a defense in a number of ways. Give the Huskers second-and-manageable often and a defense is facing the best of what Nebraska has to offer. The Huskers like to run on first down most of the time, and were pretty good at it in game one. Passing on first down was more of a so-so affair. One way or another, Nebraska's going to need to stay ahead of the chains in a tough road environment.

2. Keep Lee Clean: Oregon had five sacks from five players in its season-opening win over Southern Utah. A similar total in week two would spell trouble for Nebraska. Lee felt the pressure a few times against Arkansas State, and that was with Nebraska doing everything it could to neutralize defensive end Ja'Von Rolland-Jones, who is likely headed to the league. The Ducks have more options and the rushing yards should be harder to come by in this one. Lee's a good passer, but he'll need time if Nebraska has to rely heavily on the pass in the biggest road game of his career to this point.

3. The Longer the Better: Nebraska's best quarter against Arkansas State was the third  when it possessed the ball for 11 minutes 31 seconds. That's a Riley trait that dates way back. His best Beaver teams were those that won the time of possession decisively. It was a big key for me last year in this game. Knowing that Oregon's old offense traditionally lost the time-of-possession battle because points are more valuable than minutes or seconds, the goal became not just winning that category but widening the gap. The Huskers had the ball for 35 minutes last year in a game they probably should have lost. The closer to even it is this year the worse it is for Nebraska.

Justin Hopkins –

1. Establish the run game early and often. Oregon was very successful against Southern Utah setting up drives with the run game. But Nebraska is a whole different animal than Southern Utah. They will be much bigger and stronger and deeper. The lanes won't be as big and the yards won't come as easy. As Oregon's offense comes into form, it all starts with the threat of a run game. Expect Willie Taggart to try and get the 'Rolls Royce' warmed up early.

2. Keeping Justin Herbert clean is not only important in this game, but this season. If for any reason Oregon is without Justin Herbert for any stretch of time, that will spell big trouble for the Ducks. Oregon did a good job against Southern Utah keeping his jersey clean and providing a clean pocket for him to survey the field. Nebraska will likely bring the heat a lot more forcing the Ducks to account for some well-disguised blitzes. 

3. Normally I would advocate for Oregon to control the ball and take some time off the clock. But the defense has shown it's not a complete liability. Time control isn't the third key, it's going to be with this younger and inexperienced receiving group. In game 1 against Southern Utah, Charles Nelson was somewhat reliable. However he was not used purely in the pass game. Jacob Breeland showed he was a reliable option at tight end. The run game is the first key but in order for this team to put enough pressure on this Huskers D, they will need to find consistent threats in the vertical game to keep the safeties honest.

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