Lincoln Journal Star from Lincoln, Nebraska on November 9, 2008 · 41
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Lincoln Journal Star from Lincoln, Nebraska · 41

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Lincoln, Nebraska
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Sunday, November 9, 2008
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41
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Lincoln Journal Star Sunday, November 9, 2(K)8 yjHi J I 1 W -J Brian Rosenthal breaks down the Huskers' performance A A B A Nebraska has a play-maker at running back in Roy Helu Jr. The sophomore hurdled a defender on his 23-yard run in the fourth quarter and showed great burst overall. Helu is averaging 6.9 yards per carry this season. Dont forget those big runs by Quentin Castille. either and his good ball security on a cold day. Credit the offensive line, which played without tackle Lydon Murtha. Maybe the interception before halftime should mean a downgrade, but it's hard to not like what Joe Ganz did. The senior was limping badly before halftime and hung tough, all the way until he was kneeling at the end of the game. A gutsy perform- . ance in a battle of heady quarterbacks. Chris Brooks' first career TD was overshadowed just a tad by Ndamukong Suh's TD catch. Nil's interior defensive line, led by Ty Stelnkuhler and Suh, took control and shut down running back Jake Sharp, who needed 22 carries to amass 90 yards. QB Todd Reesing is a great runner and a great scrambler, but Nebraska kept him contained for the most part. Tyler Wortman's tackle-for-loss on the reverse was a huge momentum shifter, forcing a threeand-out right after NU had taken the lead. What can you say about Suh? We've heard the term 'animal' used to describe him, and we saw why Saturday. But this day wasnt just Suh. The defensive line dominated KU up front, and Zach Potter's interception thwarted any KU hopes. '. The secondary had some holes and needs to work on tackling. What's with hitting defenders, hoping they fall over, instead of tackling them? Wrap them up, already. The fake field goal was a beauty. Nice hands by Alex Henery on the over-the-shoulder flip from holder Jake Wesch. It set up a TD that seemed like NU was pouring it on at the time, but by the final minute, that score was looking pretty big. Kudos ' to Nebraska's kickers for succeeding in windy conditions. Even Adi Kunalic's kickoff that fell off the tee as he kicked it resulted in a big play. The fumbled punt by Swift was costly. NU had turnovers, missed opportunities, bad breaks, but persevered. NU had only four penalties, though, and zero in the second half. A challenge was warranted on the late pass to Dezmon Briscoe that was ruled an incompletion. It was a catch and fumble. Also, not sure of the point of taking the last timeout , with 20 seconds remaining before halftime on KU's thircWown play. But no harm, no foul. Nebraska came up with some more wrinkles. Liked the fake throw on the bubble screen (remember that . play last week?) Like Marlon Lucky on the direct snap and jump pass to Mike McNeill, although some may have seen that coming. The same can't be said of the TD pass to Suh. That was a surprise. Didn't like running Lucky up the middle on third-and-3 (fumble or no). Forty years and counting. The home win streak against Kansas continues. More importantly, the victory came after a dismal game last week and gets Nebraska officially In the bowl mix. Now, no more roller coasters. The Huskers must seize this momentum and finish off strong. A toss to K-State or Colorado should not happen, and would be a huge setback. A 94 record is not out of the realm of possibility, but NU must earn it. au7TL-.i.r-ii iii.in,.-t.i.u.iM.iliiLHui. I .in .I, hl.iu.uiwihijiiiiim i. mi J mil i i i . 1.1 i unburn i i . ...i... i.,im i, ,i, i. .i iiiii.i Jti ltr -vvSv - 1 1 ; r '4.- rt P ...... ... . """ " -.--wBBSIBKascP-ri-'.n' .v,- fide WtLLIMM LnU Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh (93) scores a touchdown on a pass from Joe Ganz, which gave Nebraska a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter. inn H H WILLIAM LAUERLincoln journal Star m-m JL O Nebraska in good hands with defensive tackle (and fullback) Suh BY BRIAN ROSENTHAL . Lincoln Journal Star Don't worry. Ndamukong Suh still prefers sacking quarterbacks to catching touchdown passes. "That's my job," the Nebraska junior nose tackle said. His job description Saturday included everything but selling popcorn. The 6-foot-4, 300-pound Suh was talking a lot about his fourth-quarter touchdown catch, one that helped seal Nebraska's 45-35 victory against Kansas. But Suh's domination in the trenches was the real story. Suh collected a career-high 12 tackles, including 2Vz sacks and four tackles for loss. He was part of a Nebraska defensive line that met coach Carl Pelini's week:long challenge and absolutely controlled the layhawks up front. "I just felt like our guys were on the verge of senior-ing up," said Peli-ni, the defensive coordinator and . defensive line coach. "They just had a really good week of practice. Going into the game, I told them, 'I expect you to dominate today,' and they did. I'm excited about that" As for the play of Suh? "I told him, 'Don't forget, you're still a d-lineman. You're not a running back,'" Pelinl said. "He's been meeting with the offensive coaches -all week, so it's making me nervous." Suh lined up as a fullback three times, the first two as a lead blocker. The third time, he slipped into the Big day for Suh Tackles'; 111 12 Sacks ' 2.5 TFL 4 Catches 1 TDs 1 flat and caught a 2-yard pass from Joe Ganz. It gave Nebraska a 38-28 lead with 5 minutes, 58 seconds remaining. "When I actually realized it was coming to me was when their corner stepped down, and he thought I was going to block out on him," Suh said. "So I looked back to Joey and we made eye contact and he just lobbed it to me. "Everybody gives me a hard time, but I think personally that I have good hands. He does, after all, have an interception return for a touchdown this season. But are his hands as good as Zach Potter's? Potter, a senior defensive end, jumped to intercept Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing on the first play after Suh's touchdown. It was Nebraska's only forced turnover of the day, and it led to another touchdown. "If the back would've flared, I was supposed to take him, but otherwise I was supposed to get a pass msh," Potter said. "But I didn't feel I was going to be able to convert into a pass rush, so I just kind of hung back and read his eyes. I jumped early on the play before he threw it, and then he threw it, and just threw it righr to me." Nebraska's defensive linemen combined for 29 tackles, including seven for loss. "Their defensive line is probably the strongest part of their football team," Kansas coach Mark Mangino said. "They're very good. Anyone that's played them knows that.' The Huskers shut down Kansas' running game between the tackles and began making the Jayhawks one-dimensional. That helped Nebraska create a four-man rush on Reesing. The Huskers sacked him five times. "We were able to sit back and play some coverage and not have to man-up and blitz to get pressure," Pelini said. "Any time you can get pressure with a four-man rush, it's going to make everything better, and we were able to do that." Suh was a force from the beginning, when he rushed Reesing out-of-bounds on a third-down scramble on Kansas' first possession, forcing a punt He and Potter combined for Nebraska's first sack on the Jayhawks' third series. "He's really bought into it," Pelini said of Suh. "He plays with great technique. He's just got tremendous strength. When you've got both those things, you're going to be a force, and he is that." Nebraska's back seven struggled at times, leaving receivers open and missing tackles. For example, Eric Hagg hit Reesing hard very hard in the KU backfield but didn't wrap him up. Reesing kept his balance and lofted a pass to a wide-open Kerry Meier for KU's first touchdown-. But Nebraska did have big plays from players other than defensive linemen. Tyler Wortman snuffed out a reverse on a second-and-1 play, dropping Meier for a 7-yard loss. "They'd run a toss that way like three times before that, so I was just trying to get downhill right away on that toss, because that's what I originally thought it was going to be," Wortman said. "Usually, No. 3 was cracking me, and that time he didn't' come and get me." That led to a thiee-and-out the series after Nebraska had just taken a 24-21 lead. The Huskers scored on the next play, a 52-yard run by Roy Helu. Kansas answered with a touchdown, but Nebraska came back and scored again thanks, in part, to Suh. "If I can help the offense, I'm all game for it. My main thing is defense," Suh said. "We always joke about it, but if the offense needs me, I'm more than willing to help them if lean." . Reach Brian Rosenthal at 473-7436 or brosenthaiejoufnalstaf.com. The schedule TV . S ... 4. W.Michigan tot 47-24 o San Jose St. .V2 J N.Mexico St. W-7 VirginiaTech 35-30 "mi n I i f Missouri ' 52-17 Texas Tech 37-3i. nr Iowa SL 35-7 (3 Baylor w . 32-20 Oklahoma R2-2R life in the red i t I ' t . K I i -JL. -jcswAvwi"?- Our bloggers take your questions and cet some answers m o 1. Only down 14-7, why did we abandon the running game in the second quarter? Three reasons. Joe Ganz completed 9 of 11 passes for 66 yards against the wind in the first quarter, and once he got it at his back he hit four of his first five. A quarterback sack hurt the Huskers' first possession of the second quarter, and on a i third-and-3 run, Marlon Lucky ) lost a fumble. At that point, it's hard not to think NU's best option would be to keep the ball in j Ganz's hands and pass protect. A holding call did kill the next drive, and Ganz couldn't connect on a third-and-2 throw. But after KU took its first lead, Ganz completed a 27-yarder to Todd Peter- son, a lOyarder to Nate Swift on fourth-and-5 and then after the only running play of the possession gained nothing, he threw a post-route strike to Chris Brooks for a 25ard TD. Essentially, Nebraska needed Ganz to produce, because the Jayhawks had decided to crowd the line. 2. Did someone tie Bo's hands bertind his back today? (He) doesnt seem to be "talking" much, either. Apparently, we've been watching Pelini's evil twin rant on the sideline. No one saw any rope-burn marks on Pelini's wrists after the game, but there was a no-call early in the game when the Huskers thought Swift had j been interfered with and we noticed wide receivers coach Ted Gilmore was the one making an emotional plea to the officials while Pelini stood 10 or 15 yards away. Maybe Pelini has figured out it's better to be the assistant defense attorney who passes along notes? To participate in Out of the Blog, log on to HuskerExtra.com and submit your questions to Curt McKeever in the Life in the Red staff blog. V Colorado Nov. 28 Lincoln Time: 2:30 p.ra TV: ABC (7, 8) Kansas Kansas St. il'yk Nov. 15 A ' ) Manhattan, Kan. Hm Time: 235 pm 45-35 TV-.PPV

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