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Short kickoff helps Huskers on last drive
By BOB SCHALLER
For the Star-Herald
LINCOLN — In a season full of question marks, the University of Colorado was about to end it with an exclamation point Friday.
With 47 seconds left on the clock, Colorado had a chance to salvage a bit of its season and send Nebraska to its third loss in four games.
But Colorado’s squib kickoff was fielded cleanly by Dahrran Diedrick and returned to the Nebraska 41-yard line. Seven plays later, Josh Brown’s 29-yard field goal won the game for Nebraska, 34-32, at Memorial Stadium.
Colorado coach Gary Barnett wanted to talk about his freshman quarterback, Craig Ochs. Ochs completed 25 of 41 passes for 254 yards, including a 6-of-8 performance on a 68-yard drive that put CU ahead, 32-31, after a two-point conversion with just 47 seconds left.
But the squib kick shifted the focus of the game.
“If you are going to kick it to them like we did,” Barnett said, “then you might as well have done anything other than that.”
Barnett said that it was the way CU kicker Mark Mariscal hit the ball that made the squib fail.
“The plan was for me to go out and do a squib kick,” Mariscal said. “Obviously, I didn’t kick it the way I wanted to.”
Barnett, whose team finishes 3-8, was left answering questions about the “squib kick.”
The Buffs’ concept of not kicking the ball deep was mostly because of Barnett’s goal of running more time off of the clock.
“The only thing was, we wanted to kick it down the middle and make them return it,” Barnett said, “and take time off the clock.”
But in a game that came down to the final seconds, literally, worse field position for Nebraska could have better served the Buffs.
“The clock starts when you catch the ball,” Barnett said. “Make them take time on the return, rather than give them the full time.”
Nebraska coach Frank Solich said he “probably” would have done the same thing.
“Our return game wasn’t bad all day,” Solich said. “So, I could see what the reasoning does, and that’s what you might expect.”

 

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