Aggie offense ran away with NU's game

By James Nicas
Staff writer

Aggies punish NU 28-21

Gameday Notebook

COLLEGE STATION, Texas - After a close victory over Oklahoma State, Nebraska was expected to be the team to re-establish a power running game.

When the game concluded against Texas A&M, it was the Aggies who had found their lost running game while the Cornhuskers were still searching.

The Aggies' 259 yards on the ground led an offensive attack that kept the No. 2 Huskers' defense off-balance in their 28-21 victory Saturday.

Although A&M's running game lacked the style and flair that Husker offenses are accustomed to, its results could not be questioned.

"We didn't try to trick them; we just wanted to beat them by playing good, sound football," A&M Coach R.C. Slocum said. "I thought we would play well, but I knew it would be a pretty big hill to climb.

"We knew we had to run the ball, and knew we couldn't get all spread out and try this trick play or that trick play."

Slocum's no-nonsense ground game was led by junior running back Dante Hall. Hall's 113 yards on 32 carries paced an Aggie running game that was almost exclusively used in A&M's game plan.

Freshman fullback Ja'Mar Toombs added 110 yards on 10 carries to complement Hall's load. Out of A&M's 65 offensive plays, 57 stayed on the ground, which kept the Nebraska offense off the field and seemed to wear down NU's defense.

"As we were driving the ball, we were picking 4 and 5 yards, and you could see in their eyes that they didn't know what to do," A&M tight end Dan Campbell said. "We kept pounding and pounding at them, and they didn't seem to be stopping us."

Entering the game, the Aggies' offense had often been criticized for its poor play. Many critics placed blame on an offensive line that had to replace three starters from last year's group that had 79 games of combined experience.

Toombs said the play in the offensive line was the biggest reason the Aggies were able to pull off the upset.

"By far this was the best game we've had on the offensive line," Toombs said. "The offensive line did a great job, and we were clicking on all cylinders."

A&M's biggest run of the of the game was a 71-yard jaunt by Toombs to set up the second touchdown. It was the longest A&M run this season and the 11th longest run in Aggie history.

"There was some daylight, and I just kept running," Toombs said. "I didn't know (NU free safety Mike Brown) was behind me until I looked at the big screen and saw him."

The last two weeks have been unfamiliar territory for the NU defense. Along with Oklahoma State running back Nathan Simmons' 114 yards last week, Hall's and Toombs' 100-yard games marked the first time Nebraska has given up back-to-back 100-yard games since the Texas and Virginia Tech games in 1996.

"There was a lot of parallels between us and Oklahoma State," Defensive Coordinator Mike Hankwitz said. "We didn't panic, and we just wanted to pound at them. It looked like some of their defensive players were getting tired.

"Any time you can have 100-yard rushers, you don't know what to defend."

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