BY Todd Dybas 10:40PM 12/16/2010

Nebraska’s pass D most annoying

In the first game, Huskers’ exceptional secondary slammed UW receivers at the line; at Holiday Bowl, Huskies have to man up

Washington Huskies wide receiver Jermaine Kearse was blanketed by Nebraska in the first meeting. (Drew Sellers/Sports Press Northwest)

Nebraska trades girth for swift on defense, spreading up to seven defensive backs/safeties/linebackers throughout the field. It’s a versatile blend.

The Husker secondary rightfully touts itself as one of the top in the nation, led by first-team All-America cornerback Prince Amukamara.

Nebraska arcs the defensive backs and linebackers behind four down linemen. The coverage is of simple design. Yet it works.

The Huskers press and bump at the line and beyond. Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian wants his receivers to push back.

“You’ve got to be physical in your own right,” Sarkisian said. “The second part is you have to be technically sound. It’s one thing to be physical, but if you’re not technically sound you leave yourself exposed and they can jam you and reroute you.

“Our splits will be important, our physicality will be important, but also our fundamentals will be extremely important.”

Sarkisian feels Washington receivers did an “OK” job in the first game dealing with Nebraska’s pushy style.

“I thought we were better early in the game,” Sarkisian said. “As the game wore on, whether it was fatigue or the score in the game, I thought we drifted a little bit.”

Huskies receiver Jermaine Kearse broke through against Nebraska to start the second half. With Amukamara covering another receiver inside, Kearse used a stutter move to get behind the secondary. Once Kearse ditched his initial defender, there was no Nebraska help over the top. Kearse scored a 45-yard touchdown on the play.

Nebraska came in wary of double moves. It was burned by one.

“Their secondary is very aggressive, they like to get up in you,” Kearse said. “Coach Sark just called the right play.”

It was a rare sunbreak for Washington in the first game. Something the Huskies are desperate to have more of in two weeks.

Notes: Sarkisian said Jake Locker looks “as good as we’ve seen in months.” Locker said he feels great. … Running back Johri Fogerson ran sprints and did other footwork drills, but Sarkisian said he “doubts” Fogerson will be ready for the bowl game.


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