Lincoln Journal Star from Lincoln, Nebraska on August 31, 2003 · 39
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Lincoln Journal Star from Lincoln, Nebraska · 39

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Lincoln, Nebraska
Issue Date:
Sunday, August 31, 2003
Page:
39
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HUSKER EXTRA Lincoln Journal Star Sunday, August 31, 2003 . 5E 7nTTTT Tv Opener a red-letter day for Huskers' new AD '3 1 ' IV ( i U l -1 ' . X w V - ii RANDY HAMPTONLincoln Journal Star Nebraska defensive back LornelJ McPherson cradles the football in front of OSU receiver D'Juan Woods (84) after making an interception of a Josh Fields pass late in the second quarter. Blackshirts have Fields day Despite taking a pounding, Cowboys quarterback takes the blame for OSU's woeful offense. BY RYLY JANE HAMBLETON Lincoln Journal Star . There was a difference of opinion among Oklahoma State players and coaches about the problems the Cowboys had against Nebraska. Quarterback Josh Fields, despite getting sacked once, hit hard twice as he threw the ball and being hurried numerous times by the Husker rush, insisted the 177 loss was his fault. "It wasn't a pounding at all. If you play quarterback, you're going to get hit," said Fields. "The turnovers killed us. Look at how many points they scored on offense and how many we gave them on turnovers." Nebraska scored on a fumble return by Barrett Ruud and two plays after Ryon Bingham recovered another OSU fumble. "The interceptions were some bad reads by me and some bad throws by me," said Fields, who was intercepted three times and completed just 13-of-28 passes for 97 yards. Last year, he averaged 241.9 yards a game and completed better than 55 percent of his passes. His lowest passing total all last year was 133 yards against Kansas State. Head coach Les Miles gave credit to the Nebraska defense. "When you're getting whacked and rushed, it's difficult to call plays. Absolutely, you have to worry about protection," Miles said. "Plus, when you can't get a running attack going, it's hard to throw the ball. Initially, we were protecting better, but at certain times of the game, it became tough sledding." Offensive coordinator Mike Gundy said the Cowboys' offensive woes were due in part to Nebraska's defense and in part because of OSU breakdowns. "They zone blitzed us in the second half and got to us. Some were good plays by them but most were just protection busts by us," said Gundy. "They got to Fields some without blitzing and made him uncomfortable today. "To have success passing, you have to run the ball. And if we did throw it, we either dropped the ball J V; H J i x ' A , " TED KIRKLincoln Journal Star Husker safety Josh Bullocks (20) drags down OSU quarterback Josh Fields (13) for a loss in the third quarter. Fields threw for only 97 yards and completed less than 50 percent of his passing attempts. or didn't get protection." The Cowboys marched down the field to score on their first possession but the offense sputtered after that Late in the second quarter, NU cornerback Fabian Washington hit Fields' arm hard as he threw the ball. Two plays later, linebacker Demorrio Williams hit Fields as he threw. Fields completed just 5-of-13 after that and threw all three interceptions. The Cowboys' offense gained just 55 yards and lost two fumbles the rest of the game. Both Miles and Fields said the junior quarterback wasn't hurt. "If he was injured, you'd think it would have been communicated to me," said Miles. "If I was trying to be evasive, I would cite HIPAA (the health privacy act), but he wasn't hurt." . Fields said there was no injury and the fact his only long passes after that were either intercepted or under thrown was coincidence. "It was poor judgment on my part We didn't have as much time as we would like to throw down the field," he said. "I thought I let the team down today and that makes this loss hurt that much more." The secrecy surrounding Nebraska's schemes prior to the opener didn't cause the Cowboys problems, according to Miles and the' Cowboys. "Their defense had nice play against our offense. But when you turn the ball over five times, no matter who you are playing, you won't win," he said. "We didn't get an established running attack. I thought our defense played well enough to win. When you give them five more opportunities to score and they only get 17 points, the defense has played well." Offensive lineman Sam Mayes said there were no real surprises from the Maskers. "We just played a good defense, a good football team. We were prepared," he said. "We made the right adjustments, we just didn't get it done." Gundy said execution, not surprise, was the hallmark of Nebraska's defense. "You have to give them credit for doings things right There wasn't any surprise with what they did," he said. "When they got ahead, it allowed them the opportunity to come after us more. It was easier to fire away." Reach Ryly Jane Hambleton at 473-7314 or rhambletonjournalstar.com : Lincoln Journal Star As the sun set on his first Husker game dav as new athletic director, Steve Pederson said he couldn't have been more pleased. He saw fans having fun at the new 1 lusker Nation Pavilion outside the stadium. As he helped former coach Tom Osborne and former coach Bob Devaney's son Mike lead the more than 800 former players from the Lied Center to the stadium before the game, he saw people in red everywhere, in the parking garage and along die sidewalks, cheering as they passed by. The moment was magic. "I looked over at Coach Os- 7 t- ' - v i PEDERSON borne and at Mike Devaney, and it was the one of the most thrilling experiences Tver ever had," Pederson said. "The people were unbelievable. It was like being in a Macy'sThanksgivingDayparade." Pederson said the crowd reaction when Coach Osborne took the field with the former players was something he'd never forget. His goal was not just to hype that one game but set a tone for the season by recalling Husker history and tradition and "just what makes this place special the players who've played, the coaches who've coached, the fans who've cheered. " Jhis is the greatest love affair in college football the Nebraska fans and their team and vice versa. So really we did exacdy what we hoped could have been done today. "And the great part is that we won the game." Colleen Kenney A sampling of opinions of fans at Memorial Stadium immediately after trie Huskers' 17-7 win over Oklahoma State on Saturday: BOB COOK, Norfolk: "I think our defensive schemes seemed to work considerably better than last year. The offense was kind of frustrating, but it's a new system. So you figure it's not going to go as smooth as you'd wish." BILL HENRICHS, Omaha: "That was way better than I ever expected. Especially in the second half, they made some adjustments that we've need to make for the past few seasons. It was great." , LESLIE WENDT, Grand Island: "I was surprised. I was expecting us to go in and lose, but I was impressed. It was a good start to the season." ROBIN HIBBARD, Lincoln: "I thought they could have won by more, but I'm glad they won. It was tough as a fan to worry about them winning this game after 40 years of beating them. They penalized themselves to death and it looked like they made a lot of mental mistakes, but they won." REX PRESTON, Lyons: "The defense looked great, but our offense needs some work. Especially our quarterback. In the first half there looked like there were about five passes thrown in a row that didn't even come close to a receiver. If we have a weak spot, that's it" Robin Washut np-f tti t ti rr r) m f BY AL CARTER The Dallas Morning News A big part of Nebraska's offseason attack on football mediocre was based upon moving vans and bulk mail. The plan caused an infusion of six new assistants and prompted a first-game call to arms of every living player to have contributed a brink to the Cornhuskers' monolith of success. Eight hundred former heroes streamed into Memorial Stadium on Saturday as Husker Nation reassembled with full furry and a full recovery in mind from last fall's 7-7 ledger humiliation. The stream continued into the national anthem and for minutes beyond, stirring the forces of both movement, however simple, and emotion, however desperate. And yet, the Cornhuskers' 17-7 victory over Big 12 title aspirant and 24th-ranked Oklahoma State required precious little relocation of elocution on the part of the bellowing Cornhusker faithful. Nebraska fans went from "Boo!" to "Ruud!" with the greatest of ease. Not to mention pleasure. Now, multi-syllables are just around the comer. And if "Pelini" leaves some with sore lips, so be it. Bo Pelini's debut as Nebraska's defensive coordinator amounted to nothing less than a rebirth of the Cornhuskers' famed Black-shirt defense. Pelini's defense neutralized one of the Big 12's most seasoned offenses, silenced the best receiver in OSU history and supplied the vast majority of muscle for the only two touchdowns to land under the Nebraska moniker. A year ago, over the course of their worst season in the past 40, the Cornhuskers never forced more than three turnovers in any single game. Against the Cowboys, they forced five. A 15-yard fumble return by linebacker Barrett Ruud early in the second half gave the Cornhuskers the lead a task that seemed out of reach after a dismal first-half performance by Nebraska's offensB. A slapstick effort in a two-minute situation prompted a rich eruption of jeers as the half closed. . That changed immediately with Rudd's return less than two minutes into the third quarter. Later in the quarter, a blindside strip by safety Jerrell Pippens wrenched the ball from the grasp of OSU quarterback Josh Fields. Nebraska recovered and punched out 13 modest yards for another TD and permanent control . "That" Ruud proclaimed, "is what Blackshirts do. The Black-shirts are back." , No doubt, the Cowboys helped hang the yellow ribbon. After leading his team to a first-quarter TD, Fields floundered. Blessed with staff of incumbent assistants, OSU's game plan went stale. Rashaun Woods, the Cowboys' star pass catcher, grabbed a 28-yarder on his teams first possession and then a 4-yard TD toss. He chalked up only three more catches for a scant 15 yards the rest of the game. The price of failure in their opener will now haunt the Cowboys the rest of the season. Their Top 25 ranking is doomed. Return Continued from Page IE "We" need Sunday guys around here." Vince Ferragamo knows a thing or two about playing on Sundays. After his playing days at Nebraska ended in 1976, the All-American quarterback went on to have a nine-year NFL career. "TIP" i i -x: " .. ! P '' TED KIRKLincoln Journal Star With head coach Frank Solich (front right) and defensive line coach Jeff Jamrog (front left) leading the way, the Huskers charge out of the tunnel and on to the field Saturday before kickoff. In 1979, Ferragamo quarterbacked the then-Los Angeles Rams to a Super Bowl appearance. These days, Ferragamo runs a real estate and mortgage company in Orange County, Calif., but when the call came from Lincoln, he was eager to return. "It shows people that this is important to us," Fer ragamo said. "It's not just the guys who are here, it's all part of our tradition. When you need to rally, there are people willing to rally behind this team. Throughout the first half of Saturday's game, Coop er paced back and forth behind the Oklahoma State bencli. When Nebraska took the lead early in the third quarter, Cooper made his way to the East Stadium and watched the rest of the game with a handful of former teammates. ' It was Cooper's first appearance in Memorial Stadium since 1990, and he was impressed by all the changes Nebraska has made since he last wore a Blackshirt "Driving up, I was in awe of this place," said Cooper, who owns and manages a fitness club in Dallas. Cooper has been waiting for a chance to join other ex-Huskers on game day for quite some dme. When he watches college football on television, Cooper notices that former players from Miami, Florida State and Florida always seem to be on the sideline. "We need to do more of that at Nebraska, to show the players they have our support," he said. It would be a way to see 1983 Heisman Trophy winner Mike Rozier around Lincoln more often. Rozier, who lives in his native New Jersey, was on hand to watch the Huskers in person for the first time "in a couple of years." "I'd like to do this every three years or so," Rozier said. Reach Mark Derowitsch at 473-7438 or mderowitschjoumalstar.coni. 1 i X . I i ".. t kill -V r Jt :i TED KIRKLincoln Journal star Former Husker head coach and current U.S. congressman Tom Osborne (right) shares a laugh with his former defensive coordinator, Charlie McBride, just minutes before kickoff Saturday.

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