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    Nebraska Cornhuskers notes..

    Kirk Bohls
    Austin American-Statesman


    Can Nebraska beat Baylor (2-4, 0-3 South) any worse than it beat Texas Tech? Maybe, because this one's in Lincoln. Plus, the Bears have beaten the Cornhuskers only once in six meetings, and that came in 1956 when the Huskers weren't ranked. Suffice it to say, they're ranked this time.

    Baylor has been playing better and better lately, but it's showing less and less on the scoreboard. With back-to-back shutouts for a combined 52-0 whitewash at the hands of Texas Tech and Texas A&M;, the Bears haven't scored in more than 132 minutes. Their defense seems to be playing inspired football with little help from its offense, and Kevin Steele is holding his team together despite negligible results.

    Nebraska handed Tech its worst defeat in school history and could do the same to the Bears, but the Huskers had better not punt. Baylor dropped an 89-0 heartbreaker to LSU in 1908.


  • Follow Eric Crouch to the bathroom. Seriously, the Nebraska quarterback is the guy that makes that team go, and he can become the 34th back in school history to rush for a career 2,000 yards with 122 more yards.

  • Kerry Dixon has to settle down. The true freshman gave a decent account of himself against the Aggies with smart decisions but still threw four interceptions, two of which were tipped by defensive linemen, and was sacked three times.

  • Make Nebraska pass. Crouch and friends have thrown only 92 passes in six games -- 15 a game -- and maybe the Huskers will try to work on that phase since the Bears have only one quarterback sack all year, and that by a backup defensive end.


    Nebraska's veteran offensive line vs. Baylor's young defensive line. The Bears' front of a redshirt freshman, two sophomores and a junior that averages 268 pounds goes up against the Cornhuskers' line that has two seniors, two juniors and a sophomore and averages 304 pounds. Baylor has to try to stand up to this group and give its defense a chance.


    In the void of Anthony Simmons, who is sitting one more week in his three-game suspension for violating team rules, John Garrett has more than made up for his absence at weakside linebacker. The 6-1, 219-pound true freshman -- one of three who have started the last two weeks and one of nine who are playing -- is the type of active, athletic player that Steele needs more of to turn the Big 12 corner and become a respectable, competitive team.

    Garrett, named the Super Centex Player of the Decade by the Waco newspaper, made nine tackles against Texas A&M;, including one for a loss, and caused two hurried passes. He is such a natural that, after bragging to Steele about his kicking abilities even though he didn't kick in high school, booted a 42-yard field goal without a warmup. The next day, he was good from 47 yards. Steele was convinced.

    Tom Shatel
    Omaha World-Herald


    The Huskers' 56-3 win over Texas Tech was their most complete game of the year and their first total domination of an opponent. But more impressive was that it was the first time the Blackshirt defense showed any semblance of being able to slow a top-notch passing game. Texas Tech entered the game averaging 300 yards a game through the air and the Huskers held the "Air Raid" to a harmless 181 yards, with three sacks and two interceptions.

    With the Game of the New Century coming up next week at Oklahoma, it's unlikely the Huskers will tip their defensive hand too much against Baylor. The only questions will be what Baylor coach Kevin Steele and running back coach Tommie Frazier will be thinking on the opposite sideline. Steele was Nebraska's defensive coordinator for much of the 1990s while "Touchdown Tommie" is still an icon in Lincoln.


  • Fine-tune the passing game. It sounds crazy, because you don't want to show Oklahoma too much, but Nebraska has nothing to prove by running the ball every play against Baylor, who used a stacked-line against Texas A&M; last week and no doubt will try and do the same this week.

  • Get Loran Kaiser healthy. The senior defensive tackle has missed the last two games with a foot injury. If he can return this week, his presence will give a lift to the Blackshirts as they prepare for Oklahoma.

  • Play quarterback Eric Crouch for a half and get him out. Crouch won't admit it, but he's banged-up. The tough guy takes a lot of shots and needs a rest. Get backup QB Jammal Lord some playing time against Baylor.


    Nebraska's pass rush vs. Baylor quarterback Kerry Dixon. The Blackshirts had their best game of the season at Texas Tech and it was due to the best pass rush of the season. The front four had plenty of help as defensive coordinator Craig Bohl started to empty some blitzes from his playbook.

    The rationale? His young linebackers and secondary are getting better at their assignments and, even if they weren't, it was time for the Blackshirts to get something going with the rush. Junior linebacker Randy Stella, who has struggled at times this season, was most effective on the blitz, with five tackles and three for losses. Dixon is a true freshman who will be in no condition to take a beating as Nebraska tunes up for Josh Heupel.


    Nebraska fans and media are calling for coaches to get the ball to Dahrran Diedrick. The sophomore third-team I-back is more explosive and shiftier in the open field than Nebraska's top two I-backs. Coach Frank Solich still doesn't trust Diedrick, who has had problems handling the ball in practice (and had a key fumble against Texas in the Big 12 title game last year). But Diedrick has looked super in mop-up duty this year and rushed seven times for 53 yards and a touchdown last week. Maybe his time has come.

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