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No. 2 Nebraska 29, Texas Tech 0

Big Red Crunch: Husker D steps up against Red Raiders

Applying the hit
Independent/Jennifer Bruno
Nebraska's Kyle Vanden Bosch (83) stops Texas Tech's Derek Dorris (22) during Saturday action at Memorial Stadium. The Blackshirts held the Red Raiders to six first downs and 17 yards rushing on the day.

Osborne impressed with few mistakes, Tech defense

By Kevin Schuster / The Independent

LINCOLN - Before the season, questions surrounded Nebraska's defense.

Now, the Blackshirts -- eight new starters and all -- are starting to answer them...even with an exclamation point.

Nebraska limited Texas Tech to 127 total yards and six first downs during a 29-0 Homecoming triumph before 75,764 people at Memorial Stadium Saturday. The impressive defensive showing gave the Huskers (6-0 overall, 3-0 in the Big 12 Conference) their first shutout since an 49-0 victory over Baylor last October.

"We've got young guys that are playing great football now and that's really what we need, especially coming down the stretch when teams - if you have any weakness - are going to learn to try and exploit them," Nebraska right rush end Grant Wistrom said. "But fortunately, we're able to adjust and make some changes. And right now, we are not showing very many weaknesses on defense."

Nebraska received three Kris Brown field goals and touchdowns by Jeff Makovicka (3-yard reception), Jon Zatechka (on a recovery of an Ahman Green fumble in the end zone) and Green (7-yard run) to knock Texas Tech (3-3, 2-1) from a first-place tie in the Big 12's South Division.

"I'm pleased with the way we played today," Nebraska coach Tom Osborne said. "Defensively, we did an outstanding job. Any time you don't let anybody score, you obviously had a great day. We decreased the number of big plays against us.

"The pass coverage was good. The pass rush was good. The run defense was solid, and we just made fewer mistakes. I'm satisfied with that progress."

The one-dimensional Husker offense posted 446 yards (400 rushing) and 29 first downs. Second-ranked Nebraska scored on its first three second-half series to break open a 13-0 halftime lead.

"Offensively, we went against a good defense," Osborne said. "My main concern going into the game was that Texas Tech had really played outstanding defense the last couple of weeks. They are a real solid unit, and we really had to work to get our yards."

Tech's offense showed more promise than Nebraska's No. 1 nationally rated unit early.

The Red Raiders drove 42 yards to the Husker 36 on their opening drive, but failed to score when Jaret Greaser missed a 52-yard field goal with 8 minutes, 31 seconds left in the first quarter. As if the miss wasn't bad enough, Greaser broke his right leg on the play.

Greaser's leg wasn't the only thing broken, though. Tech's offense was stuck in neutral after a good opening march.

Dive for more
Independent/Jennifer Bruno
Vershan Jackson looks up after making a 15-yard reception in the third quarter Saturday.
The Red Raiders punted on their next five possessions before they lost the ball when the first half expired. Texas Tech was forced to punt all four times it had the ball in the second half.

"There's not a whole lot to say when you get manhandled," Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes said. "I thought that Nebraska's defense was relentless. Boy, that's a great defensive football team. We just had a hard time all day long with our offense. When you play the No. 2 team in the nation, you have got to make a lot of plays to have a chance to stay in the game."

But Nebraska's defense, especially in the third quarter, kept the zero under Tech's name on the scoreboard. The Blackshirts surrendered just 41 yards and two first downs in those 15 crucial minutes...a quarter that has troubled NU this season.

"The players were not enthusiastic early," Nebraska defensive coordinator Charlie McBride said. "I thought uh-oh. The third quarter is a quarter people have scored the most points against us. I talked to them about the shutout (at halftime). I was proud of the way they played."

Nebraska squeezed the pocket against Tech senior quarterback Zebbie Lethridge. They used the same defensive tactic against Florida State's Charlie Ward in the 1994 Orange Bowl.

Lethridge, slowed by an ankle injury, was 10 of 20 passing with 110 yards. He rushed for minus-23 yards (Lethridge was sacked twice) on just five attempts. Tech was limited to 17 yards rushing on 26 attempts.

"I'm disappointed that we weren't more opportunistic," Dykes said. "I thought that at the end of the first half, we were still in the ball game. We had some breaks, but we just didn't capitalize on them. But Nebraska had a lot to do with that."

Green took advantage of big holes by Nebraska's offensive line to outgain Tech's offense by himself. The junior I-back rushed for 178 yards. Nebraska quarterback Scott Frost added 83 yards.

"Today offensively, we just basically played smash-mouth football," Green said. "It wasn't a big score with big runs. It was basically hike the ball, five yards and a pile of dust all day long."

A dust pile is what Nebraska's defense transformed Tech's offense into...and any upset chances it had.

"I'm surprised with our lack of offense," Dykes said. "We just weren't very good."

 
More on the game
Helmet
Plugging Big Red for No. 1 Terry Douglass knows Coach Osborne doesn't want to, but it's time

A new way to score: The Huskers first TD of the year through the air goes to...

Slipping from their pace: Red zone attack falters against Red Raiders

Game Notes: Streaks, new highs and a milestone

Statistics, scoring summary

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