If Sunday-morning quarterbacks heap criticism on the Nebraska secondary, it probably won't be any harsher than Cornhusker cornerback Ralph Brown's assessment.
The junior called Louisiana Tech's school-record 590 passing yards "ridiculous."
"It shouldn't happen," Brown said. "We kind of relaxed (in the third quarter). We went out there flat. We need to stay focused the whole game."
Nebraska won 56-27 Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium. That eases Brown's pain. But those 210 passing yards Tech racked up in the third quarter — including 198 by senior wide receiver Troy Edwards, who finished with an NCAA-record 405 — left the good-natured Brown more than a little frustrated after the opener.
Tech's final tally was the most passing yards the Huskers have ever allowed. Kansas State's Chad May burned them for 489 yards in a 45-28 NU victory in 1993.
"I'm really upset," said Brown, who was named defensive player of the game by Fox Sports Net.
Edwards twice burned Nebraska on fly patterns. He simply sprinted past Brown and hauled in a 94-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. Edwards did the same thing to backup cornerback Jerome Peterson in the fourth quarter, that time for 80 yards. But Tech still trailed 49-27.
"On the play he beat me," Brown said. "I just relaxed."
Brown said Nebraska's speed wasn't the problem; it was lack of communication and mental lapses that hurt the Huskers most, he said.
"It was a disappointment," said Nebraska junior free safety Mike Brown. "But it's nothing to get alarmed about. We have great athletes in our secondary. Things just didn't always work out. Their offense is complex — and we have a lot to work on."
Louisiana Tech throws up to 50 formations at teams. Bulldog quarterback Tim Rattay (46-for-68 with four touchdowns and one interception) hurt Nebraska with quick and short passes, in addition to the deep routes.
Edwards was magnificent.
"He has everything," Ralph Brown said. "He has good hands, good feet, good speed, he's physical — and he plays hard for four quarters."
Nebraska secondary coach George Darlington said he knew Edwards would do some damage.
"We just wanted to try to keep him contained and keep hitting him," Darlington said. "We would have been satisfied if we could have duplicated the job we did on him in the first half. But we didn't, so we have some things to work on."
Darlington said he saw too many missed tackles after short passes. He was also disappointed Nebraska's secondary came up with no interceptions. The only interception was by defensive tackle Jason Wiltz.
"As a coach, you're never satisfied," he said. "But, by the same token, our kids competed hard."
Part of the problem in the secondary, Nebraska defensive coordinator Charlie McBride said, can be attributed to Clint Finley's knee injury, which forced Mike Brown to move from rover to free safety.
Finley, a sophomore, is questionable for Saturday's home game against Alabama-Birmingham.
"It mixed it up a little (in the secondary)," Mike Brown said. "Our continuity was not quite there.
"But we're pleased with the result. If we can keep winning, I'll be happy."
Nebraska sacked Rattay three times. It was tough to pressure him because he releases the ball quickly.
"He gets the ball off fast, but we didn't do a good job of getting in his face," Nebraska senior rush end Chad Kelsay said. "We weren't putting enough heat on him. We didn't do a good job of taking advantage of the opportunities when he did drop back and take awhile.
"I always say a win is a win, but we have a lot
of work to do."
Web posted August 30, 1998