Friday, September 6, 1996

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Nebraska offense reloaded, ready to fire

State News Sports Writer

If head coach Nick Saban and the rest of the Spartan football team had their way, the "Mission: Impossible" music would be back on the shelf and plans for another victory parade after another Nebraska national championship would wait until January.

Then again, if Saban had his way, the Cornhusker offense wouldn't have so many weapons.

"You want to see real offensive weapons, wait until (you see Nebraska)," Saban said.

Despite losing I-back Lawrence Phillips and quarterback Tommie Frazier from the last year's top-ranked offense, the Cornhuskers have unmatched talent and a complex offensive system that drives opposing coaches nuts.

Sophomore I-back Ahman Green takes over the starting backfield duties for Phillips after setting a Nebraska freshman record with 1,086 yards last season. The 6-foot, 215-pound Green has blazing speed and great hands that helped him earn Honorable Mention All-American accolades last year.

"I don't think there's really a lot of pressure on me to perform," Green said. "We have so many weapons so (our success) isn't only on me."

Senior Damon Benning, junior Jay Sims and freshman sensation DeAngelo Evans are behind Green on the depth chart, but all three have NFL-caliber skills. Benning started two games last year, galloping for 421 yards and four touchdowns. Sims scored three touchdowns himself, including an 80-yard run last year against MSU.

Evans was the top prep running back in the country last year, rated even higher than Spartan freshman Sedrick Irvin.

During Evans' career at Collegiate High in Wichita, Kan., Evans amassed 8,473 yards on the ground and 131 touchdowns - breaking the records set by hometown hero Barry Sanders.

"We're good at the running backs," Nebraska coach Tom Osborne said. "I feel good about our fullbacks, we're in reasonably good shape there too."

Senior fullback Brian Schuster and senior wingback Jon Vedral return as prominent players in Nebraska's wishbone attack. Schuster is a punishing blocker that gives the Cornhuskers great pass protection and Vedral is a former walk-on and Nebraska's top returning receiver.

Osborne has promised Vedral and the other Nebraska receivers a chance to catch more passes this year because of the arrival of junior quarterback Scott Frost.

Frost, a native of Nebraska, brings great credentials to the Cornhusker program after transferring from Stanford - a blessing since he's replacing the All-American Frazier. Frazier started 32 of 35 career games at quarterback and rushed for more than 2,000 career yards.

Frost accumulated 11,137 yards of total offense as an All-American quarterback at Wood River High School in Wood River, Neb. The athletic quarterback rushed for more than 1,400 yards and passed for more than 1,900 yards in both his junior and senior seasons, and won a gold medal in the state shot put.

"Scott Frost has all the ingredients to be a great player," Osborne said. "He's got size. He's got durability. He's got excellent quickness, is a good thrower and is intelligent."

Frost said after sitting out a whole year, he can hardly wait to get back on the field.

"I'm real excited after all the hard work we've put in to finally get out there and play," he said.

Nebraska figures to show plenty of different looks on offense, including a new shotgun set to utilize Frost's arm - something that has concerned Saban during his team's preparation.

"Their offense is not straightforward," Saban said. "They use every personnel group known to man. They have more plays in their offense than any college football team I've ever played against.

"It's not straightforward. The ass-kicking they give you usually is straightforward but the preparation isn't."

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