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Nebraska vs. Louisiana Tech
Good afternoon Cyberhuskers, and welcome to the textcast of the Eddie Robinson Classic, featuring the Nebraska Cornhuskers against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.
My name is Mike Nolan, the manager of the Huskers List for the past seven years, and I'll be doing the play-by-play on this textcast.
We have a new interface this year, the score and situation should be in a separate box throughout the game, the folks at Covalent Technologies have been working on this for a while and today we get to find out how well it works.
It's a new season, and for the first time in a quarter
century, Tom Osborne isn't the man at the helm of the Good Ship Cornhusker. That task now belongs to Frank Solich,
a newcomer yet a Husker veteran, having spent 19 seasons at UNL as a graduate assistant, assistant coach, and as the assistant head coach for the past few years.
How will Solich do? This game might not really be the best indication of it, nor will the 1998 season. But a good start is important for Frank, both in today's game and throughout the season. (There are already folks suggesting in some online forums
that Solich should step down IF he doesn't have a great
first season - a very premature rush to judgement.)
But if there was a type of opponent that the Huskers have had to worry about, Lousiana Tech may be one. A mobile quarterback who can fling the ball, the nations best returning receiver, and a team that has nothing to lose if they fail to defeat the Big Red, all of those spell possible
trouble for the Huskers.
On the other hand, the Huskers have a defense that is fairly intact from last year, despite losing two first round draft choices. This may be the best secondary that the Huskers have had in quite a while, and they'll put Tim Rattay and Troy Edwards to the test.
The bookies have made the game a 35-36 point spread, which means that if the Bulldogs manage a few touchdowns due to blown coverage or great individual effort, the Huskers may have to score 50 points just to beat the spread, though I doubt that is of any importance to Frank Solich, his assistants, or his players.
It's a typical summer day in Lincoln, the temperature should be in the low to mid 90's, and there is a light breeze, but probably not enough of one to be a factor.
But the Huskers had two-a-day practices mostly in mid 90's
temperatures, so they should be prepared for the heat.
Where the Huskers may have the edge is in conditioning and depth, Louisiana Tech is not a particularly deep team, and Nebraska won three National Championships in part because of the finest conditioning program in college football.
So what may ensue today is a game that starts out close, but with the bigger, faster, stronger, deeper, and better conditioned Huskers putting the game away, probably in the 2nd half.
It's a sellout crowd filing into Memorial Stadium, extending an NCAA record that now is 221 games long.
And the fans filling the seats will have some new sights, a $40 million construction project which is only half done, and will eventually give the Huskers 42 skyboxes, a state of the art press facility, and improved concourses on the west side of Memorial Stadium.
And the field has a new name, too. Tom Osborne Field.
We're only about 20 minutes away from the kickoff, not just of the game but of the Frank Solich era at Nebraska.
The marching band is playing our National Anthem.
Of course, Solich isn't the only new face. Bobby Newcombe won the starting QB job at the spring game, and will get his first start today. Correll Buckhalter will start at I-back while DeAngelo Evans recovers from a knee injury. But at fullback is Joel Makovicka, on a path to be the best fullback in Nebraska football history. Makovicka was named as a candidate for the Doak Walker award, given to the nation's top running back every season.
The fans are getting ready for the Tunnel Walk, a new but popular tradition at Nebraska. Josh Heskew commented earlier this week that it will be a lot easier for him to see down the walk this season. (Solich is 5'8", nearly a half foot shorter than Tom Osborne.)
And here come the Huskers!!
The team captains led the way onto the field, a departure from the past when Coach Osborne would lead the procession.
LA Tech wins the coin toss and defers to the 2nd half.
Nebraska will start the game on offense.
Wiggins and Walker are back around the five for the kickoff.
The Huskers will defend the north end zone in the first quarter.
Whistles on the opening kickoff, delay of game on the Bulldogs, they'll move the ball back five yards and try again.
The ball is picked up by Walker at the 18, he brings it out to the 30.
Makovicka gets the first handoff, he's up the middle to the 42. Well, bar bets all across the state just got settled, the first play Solich called was 'fullback up the middle'.
Pitch to Wiggins, he's across midfield and out of bounds on the left sideline at the LA Tech 46, another first down for the Huskers.
Newcombe back, he has Jackson open at the 10, hits him, and the Huskers score quickly!
Brown in for the PAT, it's good.
Under a minute for the first scoring drive of the Solich era.
Now Brown will kick off to the Bulldogs, and it goes through the end zone.
So Tech will start out at their own 20, down by 7 points.
Three receivers on the right for Tech, pass to Edwards, he falls down at the 22.
Now we have a lot of receivers on the left side, in the shotgun, The pass is knocked down by Foreman at the 27, nearly picked off.
Shotgun again, jailbreak screen to Edwards, he gets across the 25 but Kelsay brings him down there. The Bulldogs will have to punt the ball back to the Huskers.
Pond back to punt, taken by Walker at about the 30, he brings it out to about the 40.
Newcombe may be changing the play, he scrambles free, reverses direction to the left, and picks up a yard the long way.
Pass to Davison, he's knocked out of bounds at the Tech 48, another first down for the Huskers.
Newcombe's changing the play again, keeps it, goes right, picks up 3 yards.
Pitch to Buckhalter, he goes right and is down at the 33.
Nice block by Makovicka to spring Buckhalter on that last play.
Another pitch to Buckhalter, he's down at the 30, the ball comes loose and there's a scramble for it, but it had already been marked down at the 27.
Makovicka up the middle, gets to the 26 but no further.
Maryland I, Newcombe runs into a blocker and winds up about a yard short of the first down.
Makovicka breaks the I, Buckhalter gets the ball up
the middle, good for the 1st down.
A good stretch by Correll to pick up the first down.
Makovicka gets to the 20.
Joel comes out, Cheatham and Wiggins come in, single back set, the Huskers call time out before the plan starts, Cheatham saw something the Huskers weren't expecting and called the time out.
Buckhalter up the middle, dragging players with him, he's inside the 10, inside the 5, and finally stopped at the 2.
Buckhalter up the middle, if there's a gain it isn't much.
Newcombe right, wants to pitch late, doesn't do it. The ball is on the ground but Nebraska recovers, and to compount their problem, Tech is called for a late hit. First and goal at the one.
Makovicka up the middle, he's close to the goal line, they're unstacking the players, and they spot it about two inches from the goal line.
I think we have an official's time out, maybe for TV.
Those of you following the game here, let us know what you think of the new interface. (I can't see it very well myself.)
Newcombe keeps the ball up the middle, ant the officials finally signal touchdown!
Brown in for another PAT,he's closing in on the all-time scoring record at Nebraska, and now he's another point closer to it.
Brown ready to kick off, this one goes through the end zone, too.
Pass up the middle to Jenkins, he's wide open but doesn't hold on.
Tech has to call time out.
3rd and 15, screen pass to Edwards, he can't get free and is downed by Brown at the 32.
The punt gets off, barely, Lance Brown makes the fair catch at the 37.
Miller in at FB, he goes up the middle and picks up 6.
DeBates is wide open, the pass is a little low but he
scoops it up and has a first down at the Tech 42.
Alexander bumps into a teammate, scrambles loose, and fights his way to the 36.
Miller up the middle, bounces off two tacklers and gets to the 26.
Newcombe back, under pressure, breaks free and heads downfield to the 20.
Maybe time left for one play in the quarter. Pitch to Alexander, he leaps over a would-be tackler and is down
at the 18. And that should end the first quarter.
Alexander up the middle to the 15, that should pick up the 1st down.
The Huskers had the ball 10:40 in the first quarter.
Alexander up the middle to the 13.
Pitch to Alexander, he goes right and is rolled down at the 8.
Miller gets the ball, bounces his way through the line and scores.
A little technical problem. Brown put the ball into the end zone, but Tech is putting on a little drive of its own, they're down to the Husker 42.
Jailbreak screen to Daigne, he gets about 5.
Tech still moving the ball, I'm still having problems with the interface. Ball at the 35. Pass to Cangelosi, he picks up the first down
Rattay under pressure, takes off up the middle to the 27.
Pass to Newman at the 18, another first down for the Bulldogs.
Pass into the end zone, broken up by Ralph Brown.
Tech still trying, they've got the ball down to the 5 now.
Pass into the end zone, caught on the bounce, though.
The technical folks tell me they've started up some more servers that should solve the problem I had.
Pass complete at the 1 to Daigre.
Rattay throws for the back of the end zone, over the receiver's head, he was well covered by Swiney
4th and goal at the 1, the crowd makes noise. Pass complete to Cangelosi for the TD.
The PAT is no good, so that makes it 21-6.
The kick is taken by Walker at the 2, he finds a seam and is downfield, he'll score!
So the Huskers don't waste any time reacting to the first score against them this year!
The PAT is good, it's 28-6, with 6:57 left in the half.
Brown's kick is taken 4 yards deep and downed, the crowd boos, they wanted some action!
Pass incomplete, short of Cangelosi.
Flags before the play gets going, false start on Tech.
Catch by Edwards, he's up to the 24.
Shotgun, pass to Jordan on the left, he's short of the first down.
So the Huskers will get the ball back again.
Brown makes the fair catch at the 35.
Makovicka up the middle to about the 40.
Buckhalter gets through the line and picks up a first down at about midfield.
Pass complete to Sheldon Jackson, but he's tackled at the 1.
Newcombe keeps it, he doesn't get in, but there's a flag on the play, it's on Tech.
Buckhalter tries to push through, but is shoved back.
If the ball gets any closer to the goal line they'll need
a micrometer to measure it. Newcombe keeps it again, delayed call but they give him the touchdown.
The PAT is good, and the score goes to 35-6. That 36 point spread is looking a lot better, isn't it?
I think Jackson is going to hear it from his teammates for not scoring on that pass, and the crowd was on his side.
Brown kicks it 3 yards deep, Edwards brings it out to the 13.
If Tech has a two minute drill, here's the palce to use it.
Pass to Edwards at the 20, flag on the play. Personal foul, roughing the passer. That's the first penalty on the Huskers in the game, and it moves the ball down to the 38.
Rattay in the shotgun, drops the snap, picks it up, loses it again, but Tech retains possession, that was close, folks!
2nd and 15: Pass to Edwards up the middle, he gets to the Husker 38.
Rattay tries to throw to Hampton, knocked away by the Huskers, Foreman may have gotten a hand on it.
Pass over the middle to Hampton, Mike Brown brings him down at the Husker 35.
Tech calls time out with 40 seconds left.
Pass knocked down by Wiltz, flag on the play, though.
they pick up the flag, the play stands.
Pass to Edwards who quickly steps out of bounds at the 26.
Pass to the tailback, Tell, but he doesn't hold on.
Rattay to JOrdan at the 20, Ralph Brown stuffs him there.
Rattay downs it with 8 seconds left in the half.
Rattay tries to change the play but gets called for delay of game instead.
Rattay is hit, the ball comes free, it looks like the Huskers wind up with possession, but the half has expired anyway, and the Huskers head into the locker room with a 35-6 lead.
The first half of the first game in the Solich era looked like business as usual, Solich's comments were that he was pleased the offense got a few big plays in, the defense is looking good, but he hopes that they can wear the Bulldogs down in the 2nd half. If that happens, we could see a lot of the reserves.
Tech picked up 156 yards passing in the 1st half, but lost 7 yards rushing.
I'm not sure what adjustments the Huskers need to make in the locker room. Tech's biggest success has been on a couple of great athletic plays, their bread-and-butter play has been the jailbreak screen, and it looks like the Huskers are starting to put the pressure on Tim Rattay. On offense, everything they've tried seems to have worked, the Huskers have scored every time they've got the ball, including a 98 yard kickoff return. I doubt we'll see Frank Solich pulling out any trick plays, they just aren't needed today. Crouch
could get in a solid quarter or more of work, and having an experienced reserve QB is always a good idea.
Bobby Newcombe is 4-4 passing with one TD, almost two of them,
and 121 yards. Newcombe has two rushing TD's under his
Buckhalter is leading the rushing category, with 48 yards
on 6 carries.
The Huskers picked up 135 yards on the ground, 256 overall.
Rattay is 21-33 passing.
They've upgraded Walker's TD return to 99 yards, which ties him for the record in the modern era.
Brown kicks off, Edwards downs it 5 yards deep.
Pass to Edwards, he spins out of a tackle and gets the first down at the 32.
End around, Johnson is caught in the backfield but breaks a tackle and gets close to the 40 yard line.
Pass to Edwards, he jukes past a defender and is finally knocked out of bounds at the Tech 45.
Tell up the middle for 4.
Edwards has the ball knocked out of his hands, nearly picked off.
Pass over the middle to Edwards, he breaks free on the left side and scores.
Edwards averaged 155 yards/game last season, and he's over that with this play.
Tech goes for 2, pass complete to Cangelosi.
That makes it 35-14.
That last drive showed Tech at its best, and the Huskers didn't put much pressure on Rattay.
Walker gets the ball at the 13, breaks right, tries to reverse left and slips at the 27.
Bobby Gray limps off the field for Tech.
Makovicka is stuffed at the line, no gain.
Newcombe to Davison, he gets to the 39 and picks up a first down.
Newcombe loses the handle on the ball, falls on it, but that'll lose a couple of yards, back to the 36.
Newcombe back, hits Cheatham at the 45, he gets to the 49 and is just short of the first down.
Buckhalter is close to midfield, he has the first down.
Newcombe back, goes left, finally throws at Buckhalter, but the pass is short.
Buckhalter gets the pitch and is to the 48, but that brings up 3rd and long.
shotgun formation, Pass to Cheatham at the 45, he gets to the 44, short of the first down. Flag on the play, roughing the passer on Tech gives the Huskers a first down after all.
That puts the ball on the Tech 29.
Newcombe drops the ball on the exchange, falls on it, but the Huskers move the wrong way again.
The Huskers are moving the ball, but it isn't very pretty.
Buckhalter to the 33.
A Tech player hops off the field. Newcombe back, takes off, is nearly stopped, is finally tackled at the 40. That play didn't work any way you look at it. LaFleur comes in to punt.
Lance Brown catches it inside the five yard line, that'll pin the Bulldogs back deep.
Well, so far Tech is looking a lot sharper in the 2nd half, I doubt that Solich is happy with the performance of his team so far this quarter.
But here's a chance for the Huskers to hold the Bulldogs. A deep pass isn't near anybody, Brown was the closest player to it and it was five yards over his hands.
Pass downfield to Edwards, he's down the left sideline and will score.
Well, this could turn out to be a ballgame after all.
Pond gets the PAT.
Edwards has 262 yards in 13 catches now.
Walker takes it a yard deep, is tripped up at around the 20 and falls to the 24.
A stunned crowd is trying to figure out what's going on.
Buckhalter gets to the 26.
Newcombe to Lance Brown out of the double wingback formation, that gives the Huskers a much-needed first down.
Maryland I, Newcombe keeps it, bounces out to the 45.
Makovicka has a big hole up the middle and takes advantage of it, going all the way to the Tech 42.
Buckhalter spins out of a tackle and gets to the Tech 30.
Newcombe back, throws to DeBates on the left side, down at the 23. Flag on the play, holding on Tech, they take the penalty instead of the play. That puts the ball on the 20.
Buckhalter gets the pitch and goes right to the 17.
Edwards has put himself into the Nebraska record book, nobody has ever gotten that much receiving yardage against the Huskers. Buckhalter gets the pitch and gets to the 13, about a yard short.
Buckhalter gets the pitch, goes around the right corner but can't quite get to the corner, he's down at the 3.
They mark the ball at the 4. Newcombe keeps it, pitches late to Alexander, who dances his way across the goal line for the score, nice job on the sideline there.
Brown gets the PAT, it's 42-21.
The offense came back to life on that series, now it's the defense's turn to show that they can conquer the wide open passing game that Rattay and Edwards have played this half.
Brown ready to kick, it goes through the end zone.
QB draw, Rattay picks up 5.
Jordan gets the ball at about the 30, enough for the first down at the 31.
Edwards gets the ball at the 40, moves to the 44 before Ralph Brown brings him down.
Tell gets 2 up the middle, Tech has positive rushing yardage now.
Pass to Edwards is broken up by Ralph Brown.
Pass over the middle to Jenkins, the crowd isn't happy with the spot, which gives Tech a first down.
Swinging gate formation, the snap goes over Edwards head, he chases it down but it is a big loss for Tech, all the way back to the Tech 36.
Rattay tries to change the play, calls time out instead.
That puts Tech back into negative rushing yardage again.
2nd and 29, Edwards makes the catch at the 41, but that's short of first down yardage.
3rd and 24 now, Edwards has the ball in Nebraska territory, gets to the 45, that ends the 3rd quarter.
Nebraska: 42 Louisiana Tech: 21
Not a great quarter by the Huskers. Tech has 4th and 10 to start the 4th quarter, they'll go for it.
Edwards has 16 receptions for 295 yards and two TD's.
Vanden Bosch gets through the coverage and brings Rattay down, the ball pops free but is marked down. The Huskers will take over at the Tech 42.
Pitch to Brown, he tries to tightrope down the right sideline and is out of bounds at the 29.
Buckhalter gets to the 24.
There's a flag on the play, personal foul on the Bulldogs, that puts the ball on the 12.
Pitch to Buckhalter, he runs into traffic at the 6 and is
Makovicka tries the middle, gets across the 5 but not much further.
Newcome pitches to Buckhalter going left, he gets into the end zone at the corner.
Brown gets his 7th PAT of the day.
The Kick is through the end zone again.
Edwards is wide open downfield again, Rattay hits him perfectly, and Tech puts another long TD on the board.
The good news is I doubt the Huskers will see another passing combination this good all season.
The PAT is no good, it's 49-27.
I don't think the outcome is in serious jeopardy, but
that 35 point spread is looking shakey again.
The kick is taken at the 18 by Walker, he finds a couple of holes up the middle and gets across midfield.
Not quite midfield, the Huskers will start at their own 48.
Alexander gets across midfield and is out at the Tech 49.
Pitch to Alexander, he gets to the 43, but there are flags on the field, holding on the Huskers. Tech has a player down.
Tech is closing in on the record for passing yardage against the Huskers, Edwards already has the individual receiving
2nd and 19 at the 39 after the penalty. Shotgun formation, Newcombe spins through a tackle and gets a total gain of about 3 yards.
Newcombe rolls left, finally throws to Buckhalter on the left sideline, short of the 1st down, though.
LaFleur will punt again, Lance Brown tries to down it inside the five but can't get it stopped this time.
Pass to Edwards in the left flat, he gets to the 27.
Pass off Williams fingers, Kelsay got a hand on it.
Edwards gets the ball at the 37, spins to the 40, another first down for Tech.
Pass in the left flat to Edwards, he tries to juke his way past a couple of defenders, and gets to the 45 a gain of just 2.
A rare running play gets to the 48.
Pass is underthrown, but the Huskers are flagged for interference.
Walker had his hand on Jordan, and drew the flag.
Troy Edwards has 400 yards in 20 catches and is closing
in on an NCAA single-game record at this point.
Pass deep, through Edwards fingers on the left sideline.
Good defense by Ralph Brown on that play.
Pass to Williams, he's brought down at the Husker 43, call it no gain.
3rd and 7: Tech is operating almost exclusively out of the shotgun, and it's keeping the Huskers from putting on much of a pass rush, because Rattay can get rid of the ball very quickly, and Edwards is so fast that he's 20 yards downfield by then. Cangelosi gets the ball coming across the middle, but he'll be short of the first down yardage.
Tech will go for it on 4th down. Pass is intercepted by Foreman, but it looks like the officials had blown the play dead first. False start on Tech negates the interception.
Rattay calls time out.
Pass to Edwards, he doesn't hold on and the Huskers take over on downs with 6:39 left in the game.
Crouch comes in at QB for the Huskers.
Makovicka gets across midfield to the 49.
Holding on the Huskers negates a small gain.
Pass incomplete, Cheatham was the intended receiver.
3rd and 16: Crouch back, Davison is tripped up downfield, that draws the flag.
That gives the Huskers a first down, the ball was over Davison's head but if he hadn't been tripped up he might have been able to catch up to it.
Wiggins gets the pitch and is down around the 35. Flags come out and the ball is loose. The officials will have to sort this one out. Holding on the Huskers is the call, but Tech came up with the ball and they decline the penalty.
5:28 left in the game. The pass is behind Edwards.
That was Tech's 55th pass of the game.
Here comes #56, incomplete, Wilson was the target.
Simon gets the catch and pays for it, Kelsay levels him.
4th and 5, Tech goes for it again. Pass to Simon, he wiggles around a defender and picks up the first down.
Pass complete to Cangelosi, he's down to the 23.
That gives Tech 520 yards passing, a new record against
the Huskers. Pass incomplete, Edwards and Walker bumped into each other at the goal line.
Screen to Daigre, he gets to the 14, 3rd and 1 coming.
JOrdan gets the pass on the left flat, moves down to the 8, another first down.
Edwards leaps over two defenders and into the end zone.
There are penalty flags on the play, Tech is called for holding and that wipes out the TD.
Pass is tipped and intercepted by Wilks, he gets to the sideline where he laterals it to Reynolds who is knocked out of bounds.
Ball at the Husker 45. Crouch keeps it, makes a couple of nice moves and gets into Tech territory. Tech has a player down, it looks like some of their players are starting to cramp up.
Another Tech player limps off the field, too.
Under 3 minutes left in the game.
Ball at the Tech 49. Flags before the play gets going, the Huskers moved ahead of the snap.
Crouch back to pass, hits Cheatham on the right, back to midfield.
Makovicka gets through the middle of the line to the 43.
Under two minutes left now. Wobbly pass to Brown, incomplete. Crouch might have been hit.
Buckhalter gets through the middle and is down the right sideline to score.
Brown gets another PAT, and the Huskers crack the 50
point barrier, leading 56-27.
Troy Edwards has an NCAA receiving record with 405 yards in the game.
Andy Hadenfeldt will kick off this time around, taken at the 5, Johnson is brought down at the 27.
Pass complete to Cangelosi at the 42.
Pass to Jordan at midfield.
Kaiser brings Rattay down at the 48.
under 20 seconds left, pass to Daigre, Tech calls time out with four seconds left in the game.
Ball at midfield, Simon gets the pass, is pushed out of bounds at the 28, but that ends the game.
Final score, Nebraska 56, Louisiana Tech 27.
The Solich era starts with a win, but surely the critics
will complain about the defensive backfield, which many people thought to be one of the Huskers strong suits. But a win is a win is a win, and I suspect Frank will take this one, however ugly it got in the 2nd half.
This concludes today's textcast, we'll be back in a week with the Alabama-Birmingham game.
Thanks for reading along, I'm Mike Nolan, and my fingers are ready for a rest.