No. 10 Huskers out to polish offense vs. Fresno St

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LINCOLN, NEB. (AP) - Nebraska goes into Saturday night’s game against Fresno State hoping its revamped offense looks better the second time around.

The new no-huddle system drew criticism not just from fans but even first-year coordinator Tim Beck _ and that was after a 33-point season-opening win over Chattanooga.

Beck isn’t nitpicking. He knows the showing against a Football Championship Subdivision opponent such as Chattanooga won’t be nearly good enough in three weeks when the 10th-ranked Huskers (1-0) open Big Ten play at No. 8 Wisconsin.

“We didn’t display the expectations of ourselves, the staff and certainly the tradition of Nebraska,” he said. “It’s our job to fix it.”

Among the concerns: execution of the triple-option was clunky at times, the line failed to establish dominance over an overmatched opponent, Taylor Martinez continued throwing behind receivers and was too fast to pull the ball down and run at the first sign of trouble in pass protection.

“I’ve never been around a football team that was the finished product after Week 1,” Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. “If your players look at it and coaches look at it with the right perspective, you’ll shore up areas that need to be shored up.”

Fresno State (0-1), which played nine freshmen and 13 sophomores in last week’s 36-21 loss to California, would appear to be a good tonic. The Bulldogs allowed 413 yards, 314 in the first half, and gave up nine plays of 20 yards or longer.

“We are going to get a huge, huge test this week, so we are going to need to play at a very high level,” Bulldogs coach Pat Hill said. “We have to be very disciplined with our eyes, especially on defense against the option.”

The triple-option was Nebraska’s identity in the 1980s and ‘90s, but Beck wouldn’t have put it back in the playbook if it didn’t suit Martinez. The sophomore said he ran about five option plays a game in high school, and he’s established as one of the top running quarterbacks in the nation.

I-back Rex Burkhead said he and Martinez must establish a stronger “pitch relationship” before conference play starts in October.

The Huskers have a valuable resource in athletic director Tom Osborne, who was college football’s option guru during his Hall of Fame coaching career. Martinez said Osborne has offered some input.

“A little bit, because that was his cup of tea back in the day, and he ran the option to perfection,” Martinez said.

Osborne’s advice?

“Just keep attacking the defender and make the defender make a decision, and once he makes a decision either run off him or pitch off him,” Martinez said.

Fresno State sophomore quarterback Derek Carr, brother of Bulldogs legend and 2002 NFL top draft pick David Carr, will make his second start. He was 21 of 33 for 150 yards, with one touchdown and an interception, against Cal. He was sacked four times.

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