August 29, 2008

Match-up watch: Nebraska vs. Western Michigan

Each week, HuskersIllustrated.com will breakdown the key match-up's heading into Saturday's game. This week, there are several intriguing match-ups heading into Nebraska's season opener Saturday against Western Michigan.


Nebraska's pass rush vs. Anthony Parker


It's been well documented that Nebraska is looking to bolster its pass rush success from last season, where it registered just 13 sacks all year. To get things off on the right foot, you can bet the Huskers will be zeroing in on Anthony Parker.


Parker, a redshirt freshman, will be making his collegiate football debut at left tackle for the Broncos, making him a prime candidate for the Huskers to attack with heavy pressure.


However, Parker is no bum off the street. Two years ago as a senior at North Miami Beach (Fla.) High School, the 6-foot-5, 305-pounder was a first-team all-state selection in the prep football hotbed of Dade County.


Joe Ganz vs. Western Michigan's secondary


The start of senior Joe Ganz[db]'s first full season as Nebraska's starting quarterback will begin against the strength of Western Michigan's defense. With four returning seniors, led by three-year starter [db]Londen Fryar, son of former NU great Irving Fryar, the Broncos feature a talented and experience defensive backfield that could cause problems for Ganz.


Ganz has talked all offseason how he's intent on being patient in the pocket and dramatically cutting back on his interception total last year, in which he threw seven in three games.


Despite their experience, though, the Broncos' defensive backs are coming off a fairly average performance last season, where they ranked 46th nationally in both pass defense (220.2 yards per game) and pass efficiency defense (120.85 average opponent passer rating).


John Potter vs. Memorial Stadium
Though he might not handle the majority of the field goal duties for Western Michigan on Saturday, true freshman kicker John Potter is expected to get some chances, especially in longer attempts.


In a game many expect to be closer than its 14 point spread, how well Potter handles the chances he gets could play an important part in the outcome. Junior Chris Kelly made 2 of 3 field goal attempts last season and should handle the short and intermediate distance attempts, but should the Broncos need a long field goal, they'll probably turn to Potter.


Last year as a senior at Grand Haven (Mich.) High school, Potter was a first-team all-state selection and regarded as the top kicker in the state of Michigan. However, he never had to kick in front of 85,000 rowdy opposing fans in red.

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