Did Nebraska rush for 413 yards last week against Nevada because it had planned to, or simply because it could?
That's the question facing Wake Forest this week as it braces for a visit from the Cornhuskers of the Big 12 on Saturday. Now in his fourth season at Nebraska, Coach Bill Callahan's reputation for coaching a wide-open, pass-oriented offense may not be completely accurate.
At least, that's the suspicion of Coach Jim Grobe of Wake Forest.
"Coach Callahan has the reputation as ‘West Coast, throwing the football,' and all those kinds of things," Grobe said. "And I think they really were that a couple of years ago. But they've become a really physical offensive football team.
"Their defense has always been really, really physical, and they kind of look that way on both sides of the ball now. I'm sure they have the ability to throw the ball as much as they want to, but last week they rushed for 400 and threw for 200. They're just a good, good-looking football team.
"I think they're back to contending. Last year they played in the (Big 12) championship game, and this year they look like a championship-type football team."
Conversely, did Wake Forest pass the football 60 times last week against Boston College because it wanted to, or simply because that was its only hope of moving the football?
Grobe answered that one emphatically this week.
"I don't think throwing it 60 times and running it 20 is really in my wheelhouse," Grobe said. "I'd like to be maybe not quite 50-50, but we'd like to be more balanced for sure."
The message may not have made it out to Lincoln, judging from Callahan's comments at a media conference on Monday.
"When you throw the football 60 times in one game, that tells me there's a real concentrated, focused and committed philosophy in what they're trying to get accomplished," Callahan said. "That's evident. They're going to throw the football down after down."
Another misconception emanating from Nebraska this week was that the Deacons' were distraught over the loss of starting quarterback Riley Skinner because of a separated shoulder sustained at BC. Skinner proved last year that he's a first-rate quarterback by leading the Deacons to 11 victories and being named ACC rookie of the year, but Grobe and his staff appear confident that his replacement, Brett Hodges, is capable of leading Wake Forest to victory.
"It makes me happy that we'll have the upper hand," linebacker Steve Octavien said. "I'm sorry it went that way but it makes us happy that we're not facing their starter.
"But at the same time, (Hodges) came in and he threw (17) for 23, so their backup is very good, too.
"I really want to face every team at their best so it's disappointing when they're missing people."
Nebraska was missing Maurice Purify, who was suspended for the game against Nevada after twice being arrested during the summer. Purify, who last year caught 34 passes for a team-high 630 yards, was convicted of driving under the influence, and later on three charges resulting from an alleged fight at a bar in Lincoln.
Purify was reinstated to the team for the last week of summer workouts and practiced with the Cornhuskers through preseason. He will be available for Saturday's game.
The Cornhuskers' main weapon against Nevada was Marlon Lucky, a junior running back who carried 30 times for 233 yards and three touchdowns - all career highs. Quarterback Sam Keller, a transfer from Arizona State, completed 14 of 25 passes for 193 yards and one touchdown.
Nebraska is an experienced team, with 11 seniors, nine juniors and two sophomores listed as first team.
"So this is a tough crusty old football team that's really, really impressive on film," Grobe said.