Before the Capital One Bowl, Sean Callahan of HuskerOnline.com was kind enough to talk with @CapitalOneBowl about this year’s game from the Nebraska perspective.
@CapitalOneBowl: How well have the #Huskers adapted into the Big Ten this season? Were there any ‘culture shock’ moments?
@Sean_Callahan: I think the biggest difference from the Big 12 was the overall top to bottom depth of the league.
The other thing I’ll say is the front 7’s were more physical and that can put some wear and tear on your over 13 weeks.
@CapitalOneBowl: So do you think that competition prepared them for Carolina, or do you think they’ve been worn out from the physical play?
@Sean_Callahan: It definitely prepared them.The only thing sometimes you can’t prepare for is speed and Carolina has great speed on defense.
The league also taught NU there are no weeks off.You just can’t show up, even if you are 14 point favorite and expect to win
@CapitalOneBowl: Which matchup (unit or player) against USC should concern #Huskers fans the most?
@Sean_Callahan: The one that really worries me is Nebraska o-line vs. South Carolina’s d-line. They’d give anybody match-up problems.
When you look at Ingram and Clowney they are both future first round draft picks with unreal ability to rush the passer.
@CapitalOneBowl: Writers are keying on Ingram/Clowney and say NU will need Taylor Martinez to throw. Can NU succeed if the option is stopped?
@Sean_Callahan: NU’s running game is more than the option. It’s all about Rex Burkhead and his ability to consistently get 4 to 6 yards.
With that said, if NU faces 2nd or 3rd and long situations, it will be very hard for Martinez to throw in those situations.
@CapitalOneBowl: With the hype behind Ingram and USC’s D, is there extra pressure/incentive for the Blackshirts to show they can hang?
@Sean_Callahan: It’s been an up and down year for the Blackshirts, but they played well down the stretch. They are also healthy now.
They also have their own pair of “Ingram’s” in LB Lavonte David and CB Alfonzo Dennard that give their D plenty of swagger.
@CapitalOneBowl: We were just about to ask – which #Huskers defender needs to be on his game on Monday? David? Dennard? Someone else?
Those two are big, but really the d-line containment of Conner Shaw will be very important. They can’t let him break free.
Shaw’s ability to run is probably the biggest concern in my opinion when they look at South Carolina’s offense.
@CapitalOneBowl: Would you compare Shaw to Northwestern’s Kain Colter, who gave the D fits this year?
@Sean_Callahan: I would say that’s a fair comparison and he gave NU a lot of problems that day. I would say Colter is a better athlete.
NW would user Colter a lot even in a “Wildcat” role. South Carolina won’t do that with Shaw. He’s a very good young QB.
@CapitalOneBowl: Which matchups are looking pretty favorable to the #Huskers? Is someone poised for a breakout game?
@Sean_Callahan: I like Nebraska’s defense to slow down South Carolina’s running backs. Also Burkhead and Martinez in the backfield for NU.
However, the biggest area they have an edge in is special teams, where NU led the Big Ten in almost every category.
@CapitalOneBowl: How strongly will bowl outcome impact the evaluation of the 2011 #Huskers and their outlook for 2012?
@Sean_Callahan: I think it’s almost always big to win your bowl game in terms of what it does for your team going forward.
NU obviously wanted to win the Big Ten, but a win over a top 10 ranked team would go a long ways for this program.