- Associated Press - Thursday, December 2, 2010

LINCOLN, NEB. (AP) - Nebraska’s defense better be ready to pick up the pace Saturday if it hopes to keep up with No. 10 Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game.

No offense in the country has run as many plays from scrimmage as the Sooners, not even that Oregon squad that moves so fast that opponents allegedly fake injuries to catch their breath.

“We pick our spots to go fast, pick our spots to slow up,” OU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said. “I don’t know if there’s really much rhyme or reason to it. Just looking at the flow of the game.”

Quarterback Landry Jones took a season-high 107 snaps in last week’s 47-41 win over Oklahoma State, the second time this season the Sooners had more than 100 offensive plays.

They average 88 a game, compared with 65 for 13th-ranked Nebraska, and are the only team with more than 1,000 for the season.

Eric Hagg, the Huskers’ hybrid safety-linebacker, said Oklahoma’s pace creates chaos.

“That’s one of the hardest things that faces a defense,” Hagg said, “because we’re looking at our coaches for a call, and if they hurry up, we have to hurry up. Sometimes we mess up when we don’t get a call right. Substitution is hard. It tires you out. It’s crazy.”

Nebraska’s fifth-ranked defense will be the best Oklahoma has faced. The Huskers’ secondary, led by Big 12 coaches’ defensive player of the year Prince Amukamara and Alfonzo Dennard, is perhaps the most physical in the college game.

“They’ve got four big hosses up front, and they’re sitting there with seven fast guys,” Wilson said. “They’re locking you up, matching you up, racking you up, switching off routes. They’re going to do what they do.”

Oklahoma State operates at a similar tempo as Oklahoma, and Nebraska initially had trouble keeping up against the Cowboys. The Huskers allowed OSU 343 yards in the first half of their October game but just 152 the rest of the way in a 51-41 win.

The Huskers, however, say Oklahoma has more weapons.

Jones has thrown for almost 4,000 yards and has passed for four or more touchdowns in four games.

Ryan Broyles leads the nation with nearly 10 catches a game, and he’s had fewer than eight receptions just once. Broyles has been held under 100 yards receiving only three times.

Dennard said Broyles is more dangerous than Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon, the national leader in receiving yards.

“He’s way different than Blackmon,” Dennard said. “Blackmon hurt us on the fade routes, jump balls. Broyles, you never know what he’s going to do. He can do slants, he can get behind you, he’s fast.”

Running back DeMarco Murray’s status is undetermined after he dinged a knee against Oklahoma State. He’s averaging the most catches of any back in the nation, at five a game, and he’s caught as many as 10 balls in two games. Murray also is a 1,000-yard rusher.

The Sooners have lined up Murray in the slot and behind Jones in the “diamond” formation, with Roy Finch and Trey Millard on either side of the quarterback. Murray also has taken snaps out of the wildcat.

Kenny Stills holds the school freshman record for receptions, with 50, and Cameron Kenney had career highs of six catches for 141 yards against Oklahoma State.

“I see them like Oklahoma State. They’ve got a lot of targets, a lot of playmakers,” Dennard said. “We have players who can lock up on receivers. It’s going to be a good game, a competitive game.”

Dennard said a defense must remain disciplined against the Sooners.

“For a cornerback, stay in coverage,” he said. “You never know what they’re going to do. When Landry Jones is in the pocket, he could throw it anywhere.”

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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