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Lincoln Journal Star from Lincoln, Nebraska • 22

Lincoln, Nebraska
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Lincoln Journal Star HUSKER EXTRA Page design: Julie Koch Sunday, August 31, 1997 rown has kind Words for defense BY STEVE SIPPLE Lincoln Journal Star back Joel Makovicka bulled bis way to a 20-yard touchdown run to make itlfO. "I feel it's my job to make big fj Central Florida loses in OT OXFORD, Miss. (AP) Stewart Patridge, the first Mississippi quar-, terback to throw for 300 yards in a game since 1990, found Rufus French for a 5-yard touchdown in overtime as the Rebels defeated Central Florida 24-23 in a season opener Saturday night. Central Florida, in only its second year as a Division I-A football team and which plays at Nebraska Sept 13, went for the victory after scoring a touchdown in its overtime posses- sion. Faced with third-and-21 in overtime, standout quarterback Daunte Culpepper threw his third TD pass, this one to Charles Lee.

The Knights then elected to go for the two-point conversion, rather than force a second overtime, but Culpepper fumbled the ball at the 1 despite an open lane to the end zone. Ole Miss had the first offensive shot in overtime. The Rebels needed just three plays to move 25 yards. Steve Lindsey, who made just l-of-5 field goal attempts in the game, then made the important extra point Just minutes earlier, in regulation, Lindsey had missed a 26-yard field goal from the middle of the field. He also missed a 37-yard attempt in the fourth quarter.

Central Florida, which was 5-6 in its first Division I-A season last year, led 7-0 Saturday. The Knights marched 67 yards in eight plays before Culpepper hit Mark Monsant for a 9-yard TD. Ole Miss, no longer on NCAA probation but with fewer than 70 scholarship players because of two years of sanctions, pushed ahead 10-7 by halftime. Lindsey kicked a 42-yard field goal in the second quarter. Alishima Alexander later scored the first of his two touchdowns on an 8-yard run, capping a 78-yard drive for the Rebels.

In the third quarter, Fred Wac- Ralph Brown, the Nebraska foot-ball team's soft-spoken right cornerback, had much kinder words for the play of the Cornhusker defense than did defensive coordinator Char-li McBride. Phile McBride ripped the Black Shjuts, the harshest criticism Brown coUjd muster was, "We need to improve." thought we played really well considering all the inexperienced players we have," said Brown, referring to Nebraska's eight new defensive starters, a group that has five sophomores. "I don't think we have a long way to go to improve, and I think the bye week will help us start communicating better." It was by no means a defensive disaster for Nebraska. McBride was disappointed that Akron gained 243 total yards. He hated the fact two Cornhusker penalties helped lead to an Akron touchdown late in the third quarter.

But the Zips were never a threat, falling 59-14 Saturday at Memorial Stadium. "All of our mistakes are correctable, so I think we'll be better next game," said Brown, referring to Nebraska's Sept. 13 home contest against Central Florida. Brown, a sophomore from Hacienda Heights, was left with a positive feeling from Nebraska's Vpen'er, in large part because of his firskquarter interception, the fifth -qf his college career. Akron quarterback Greg Gromek rolled out of the pocket and threw a pass along the sideline that went Tight to Brown, who returned the 'gift 23 yards to the Akron 37-yard line.

Two plays later, Nebraska full plays for the defense, and thats what I'll try to do," Brown said. "A play like that turns the tables," Nebraska middle linebacker Jay Foreman said. "When teams try that roll-out stuff to avoid the pass rush, it's up to the defensive backs to step up, and Ralph did that" Foreman, however, shared Coach McBride's disappointment with Nebraska's concentration during Akron's second series of the second half. The Zips pulled to 45-7 with a 10-play, 82-yard drive against NU's top-unit defenders. The Huskers helped keep the drive alive with two 15-yard penalties one for 12 men on the field during a punting situation and another for pass interference.

"That isn't going to cut it," McBride said. "I think we have some work to do. We'll get it straightened out I didn't feel we held up against the run well at all. If we can't shut down the run, well have problems." Akron didn't exactly run wild; the Zips gained 99 yards on 41 carries, and their longest run from scrimmage was 11 yards. McBride was pleased with the play of the Huskers' younger defenders, particularly Lincoln Northeast graduate Erwin Swiney, Brown's backup at right cornerback.

"We had him playing all over the place; we were kind of coaching him on the run," McBride said. "For the younger players, it was a good game; they got their feet wet and just got used to being on the team." TED KIRKUncdn Jounal Star Nebraska cornerback Ralph Brown (22) gets a block from teammate Jerome Peterson (1 1 after picking off i I- r- i 'j. xi an Akron pass in the Tirst quarter ot saturaay game ai rviemonai oiaaium. orown iniercepuun, me nun of his career, set up Joel Makovicka's 20-yard touchdown run. McBride: Husker defense less than perfect in opener BY KEN HAMBLETON JLincoln Journal Star the next series," said Nebraska defensive coordinator Charlie McBride.

"You're going to get all kinds of penalties and guys running in and out of there and it looks like sandlot football. But it makes mothers happy. of counter plays and we saw them again. Everything at the corner. "These guys will see the films.

They know they'll get ripped and that's how you find out what you need to work on," he said. "I told them at halftime that we played very well in the first half and we had to get better in the second half. Obviously, I must havemade a great impression on them." Defensive co-captains Jason Peter and Grant Wistrom expressed their disappointment, too. "I wasn't satisfied and the guys on defense were frustrated," said senior defensive tackle Peter. "On third-and-long, a couple of times, they pulled through.

If we were satisfied with this, then well be in big trouble the next game and definitely in Washington. We play this way and we're capable of losing any game." Nebraska was held without a quarterback sack and allowed the Zips to gain 243 yards of total offense. "We didn't keep containment and we didn't get to the quarterback quick enough often enough," added senior rush end Wistrom. "It was a lot of things that are due to playing in the first game with a lot of new people in there. It was far from our best game.

We'll get better." never happens." McBride said the punt return team was actually very effective. Led by Shevin Wiggins, the Huskers had 145 yards on seven returns. "But we need to work on the point-after and the punt blocks and we need to get after all those kicks," he said. Overall McBride said allowing less than 250 yards was "OK. But they ran the ball on us and did a lot of the same things Texas did," he said.

"I am concerned about the size of our linebackers. Maybe we need somebody who is more physical in there. Against Texas, we saw the counter sweeps and a combination zewski kicked a 36-yard field goal for CFU to tie the game at 10-10. Alexander then scored on a 1-yard run for Ole Miss. Alexander carried 12 times for 40 yards after Rebels starting tailback John Avery injured his elbow on his second carry of the game.

Culpepper, who played much of the second half with sore ribs, threw a 13-yard TD to Joey Hubbard with 4:33 left in the game tied the game at 17. Patridge completed 24-of-37 passes for 303 yards. His main target was French, who caught six passes for 58 yards. So much for perfection. Nebraska's defense was riddled by two second-half Akron touchdowns in a game otherwise dominated by the Huskers.

long drive was revived by Nebraska's penalty for too many 'men on the field during an Akron punt The same drive also was helped by a pass interference call against the Huskers. "When you play a game where you're trying to play everybody, it seems we're spending more time on the phones than making the calls for MCE REDE disappointed "What we can do is change the kicking game, because in a close game, or when you're behind, that Nebraska notes Fans get glimpse of Davison's potential 7t er. When asked if Buckhalter would still play after the return of DeAnge-lo Evans and Dan Alexander, who have been held out because of offseason surgery, Osborne said, "We could be really strong at that position. I definitely think he'd still be a strong candidate to play." Quarterback Scott Frost who led the Nebraska option with 123 yards rushing and two touchdowns, said he was happy with the way the option plays worked. Nebraska's offense was efficient, but not perfect Saturday.

On their fifth possession, the Cornhuskers had a 13-yard touchdown run by Frankie London negated by a holding penalty on guard Jon Zatechka. "I probably should have ducked up underneath and then he probably wouldn't have had the holding call," London said. "I'm not upset." NU had to settle for a 34-yard field goal by Kris Brown. ta. it IK'; 1 YMV, i 'N Freshman receiver has good game BY CURT McKEEVER Lincoln Journal Star It's generally considered a no-no, but in this case, the Nebraska football coaches might cut Matt Davison some slack for taking a few peeks up at the giant HuskerVision video Screens during Saturday's game Akron.

I 4 A couple weeks ago, I wouldn't have thought I'd see that the first game," the freshman split end from Tecumseh said of watching the instant replay of him making a reception. "Even a week ago, I didn't know if I'd be redshirting or playing." An injury to No. 1 split end Kenny Cheatham less than two weeks ago opened the door for Davison. Saturday, he showed that he hasn't wasted his opportunity. Davison alternated with starter Jeff Lake and led the Cornhuskers' receivers with three catches for 64 yards.

His first catch, on NU's opening drive, was good for an 8-yard gain on a fourth-and-5 play. "It gave me a lot of confidence when they called on me that first fourth down," Davison said. "It helped settle me down." 5 ill yr i I rV- i It 1 I. nil Nebraska running back Correll Buckhalter also had a 41-yard TD run called back on the opening drive of the second half after split end Billy Haafke was whistled for holding. The Cornhuskers overcame that with fullback Jeff Makovicka's 11-yard touchdown run to go ahead 45-0.

Senior receiver Sean Weiting suffered a dislocated kneecap and will be out at least six weeks. Weiting was hurt on the sixth play of the game. He will be in a cast three weeks and in rehabilitation for another three weeks. "The two open weeks we have coming up will probably help him in that he may only miss two or three games," Coach Tom Osborne said. "He's a good player.

He isn't a starter, but he is a guy we were really counting on." Nebraska opened the game without slated starter Kenny Cheatham, who was out with a sprained ankle. I-back Ahman Green was held TED KIRKLmcoH Journal Star True freshman Matt Davison (3) made his family and friends from Tecumseh proud Saturday with a stellar debut with the Nebraska football team. Davison, the Journal Star High School Athlete of the Year last year, had three receptions for 64 yards, including a 46-yarder. "On the option a guy usually tries to seal off the play and to be sure I usually get a helmet right in the chin. I have the scars to prove it.

But in the first half, the outside linebacker was playing the pitch and I run off that into a big hole. That's a lot better than getting hit in the chin with somebody's helmet." Nebraska now has 37 home victories in a row dating back to a 1991 loss to Washington. The Huskers also have 300 victories in Memorial Stadium dating back to its opening in 1923. Scott Frost and Ralph Brown were named the Pacific Pals offensive and defensive players of the game, respectively. Frost completed 7 of 13 passes for 67 yards and ran for 123 yards, a career high, and scored two touchdowns.

Brown intercepted a pass and had three tackles. First time players included split end Matt Davison (Tecumseh) with three catches for 64 yards; I-back Buckhalter with 11 carries for 61 yards and two touchdowns; cornerback Erwin Swiney (Lincoln Northeast) had a punt return for 28 yards; quarterback Bobby New-combe had six rushes for 31 yards, 1 for 1 passing for 15 yards and a six-yard kickoff return; rush end Kyle Vanden Bosch had no tackles; junior college transfer Brandon Harrison had two punt returns for 29 yards; freshman cornerback Joe Walker had four tackles, redshirt freshman split end John Gibson had two catches for 18 yards and redshirt freshman linebacker Carlos Polk had five tackles. Matt's got great hands. If you throw him the ball chances are to come down with it. He's young and he's definitely going to get better.

A NU quarterback Scott Frost goal by Kris Brown. In the second quarter, Davison got behind the Akron defense on a fly pattern and hauled in a 46-yard pass from Frank-ie London to set up a 34-yard Brown field goal. Davison and Frost connected for a 10-yard gain in the third quarter, one play before fullback Joel Makovicka scored on an 11-yard run. "I just had the opportunities today. I think if anybody else had the same catches, they would've done the same," Davison said.

And he wouldn't have blamed them for glancing up at the replay screens. The 6-foot-l, 170-pounder caught 63 passes for 1,314 yards and 20 touchdowns as a high school senior last season. That followed a junior year in which he had 1,516 yards and 26 TDs. But until Cheatham sprained an ankle, Davison hadn't spent much time working with starting quarterback Scott Frost. Saturday, the two looked like they'd been tossing the ball around for years.

"I worked with the (first team) most of this week and last week, so I caught quite a few balls from Scott" Davison said. "It always seems like we're the first ones out on the field, so we play catch a lot out of the second half with back pain. He was reportedly fine after the game. Tight end Vershan Jackson suffered a bruised sternum. Rush end Mike Rucker, who got his first start as a Husker, was injured in the first quarter.

He suffered a groin strain. "I'll be OK after some rest," said Rucker. "I was just told last night at practice I would be starting and I was thrilled. I've always dreamed of being a starter. I've played a lot but being a starter is something special." Osborne said he was pleased with the play of Ahman Green and freshman backup I-back Buckhalt "Matt's got great hands.

If you throw him the ball, chances are he's going to come down with it," Frost said. "He's young and he's definitely going to get better." Davison's first catch kept alive a drive that ended with a missed field "The biggest thing was I had to try and earn his confidence." From the looks of it, Davison has accomplished that goal. Frost threw his way six times Saturday, and Davison snared the ones within his reach..

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