The Hastings Tribune/Monday, Nov. 11, 1996

Nebraska rush ends fired up for Mizzou

Tribune Sports Writer

LINCOLN - Nebraska rush ends Grant Wistrom and Mike Rucker needed little motivation for Saturday's Big 12 contest against Missouri.

Wistrom is from Webb City, Mo., and Rucker hails from St. Joseph, Mo..

The two combined for nine tackles, one and a half for losses, a half sack and a forced fumble.

"It's not hard to get up for those guys," Rucker said. "I have a few friends on the Missouri team, so it was important to play well."

Rucker plays behind the All-American Wistrom, something he doesn't mind.

"I get the opportunity to watch him (Wistrom) play," Rucker said. "I'm able to react to what he does and see if it will work for me. I also talk with him a lot after practice."

Rucker may get his chance to become a blackshirt in his junior season.

Wistrom, a junior, will decide after the season ends if he will skip his senior season of eligibility to turn pro.

Wistrom is very impressed with the work of Rucker, who is a redshirt sophomore.

"I call him a very opportunistic player," Wistrom said. "He seems to be in the right place at the right time."

Rucker was in the right place late in the third quarter when Missouri quarterback Kent Skornia lost 10 yards on an attempted pass and Rucker forced a fumble at the Tigers' 10-yard line. Rucker was able to return the ball to the Missouri 8.

"I had a chance to score," Rucker said. "But I couldn't get a good bounce off the turf."

Rucker gives the Husker defense a good 1-2 punch at rush end, who had half a sack and a half tackle for a 4-yard loss.

"Mike plays very hard each and every play," Wistrom said. "He is what you call a game player."

Wistrom says Rucker will be a great player.

"He needs to improve on his preparation and work on intensity," Wistrom said.

Prior to Saturday's game, Rucker had recorded 25 tackles, 13 for losses and 6.5 sacks.

"My job right now is to pick up the slack," Rucker said. "This is a team game. When we win, we all win. When we lose, we all lose."

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