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KU defensive breakdown leads to game-winning playKU defensive breakdown leads to game-winning play

By BOB DUTTON - The Kansas City Star
Date: 10/31/99 00:59

LAWRENCE -- So how did Nebraska wingback Bobby Newcombe get so wide open for the winning touchdown Saturday in the Cornhuskers' 24-17 victory over Kansas?

Jayhawks coach Terry Allen seemed to suggest free safety Carl Nesmith got caught out of position. If so, that's news to Nesmith.

"It wasn't a breakdown," Nesmith said. "They just ran a full vertical and caught us in the wrong coverage. It wasn't a breakdown. Nobody messed up.

"It was just a full vertical -- all four receivers went straight up the field. That's all that happened."

Well, something went wrong. Newcombe had nobody near him on the 49-yard play with 3 minutes, 24 seconds remaining. Cornerback Andrew Davison and strong safety Kareem High closed late but not in time to make a play.

Nesmith maintained he wasn't out of position, but Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch said he "looked off" the free safety (Nesmith) before throwing to Newcombe.

Even Nesmith admits he's still learning the position. Saturday's game was only his second start. A year ago, he was playing wide receiver at Butler Country Community College in El Dorado, Kan. The year before, he was a quarterback.

Despite his inexperience, Nesmith is a major reason the KU defense has shown major improvement from the unit that surrendered yards by the acre earlier in the season.

Unofficially, Nesmith had a team-high 11 tackles against the Huskers, several of which were fearsome hits -- something that is becoming his trademark.

But he wasn't near Newcombe.

All content 2000 The Kansas City Star