Cornhuskers ready to return to Ames with a new weapon - the pass

(c) Copyright the News & Observer Publishing Co. and The Associated Press, 1994

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- Brook Berringer might have been the only Nebraska football player to enjoy himself that day in 1992 when the Cornhuskers went into Ames, Iowa, and lost to Iowa State.

Nebraska's quarterback didn't make that trip as a freshman.

"I wasn't there. I wasn't traveling back then. I think I was out quail hunting, listening to the game," Berringer said. "I just remember getting back in the truck and being a little surprised at the score.

"But we watched it on film and it was just one of those deals where we were having problems with the wishbone, basically. Offensively, we just couldn't do anything. We didn't move the ball very well. Just didn't have a good day."

So how was his day quail hunting?

"I always have a good day hunting," he said.

He had a good day hunting Saturday, too, although it was out of a shotgun offense on a football field, not in a cornfield on the opening day of pheasant season.

Against Kansas, Berringer hit 13-of-18 passes for 267 yards and two touchdowns. Kansas came to Lincoln loaded to stop Nebraska's nation-leading rushing game. The Jayhawks went away with a 45-17 setback and a new appreciation for Berringer's throwing ability.

He figures Iowa State this Saturday in Ames, Iowa, will have paid attention. Nebraska no longer lives and dies by the run. It can pass, too.

Berringer has moved to the top of the Big Eight in pass efficiency with his 70-of-110 total, 63 percent, nine touchdowns, three interceptions and 936 yards.

He is having fun with his success and so are the Huskers.

When Berringer softened the Kansas defense with his passing the first half, Lawrence Phillips and company ran the ball well in the second. Berringer figures his passing will pay dividends for the running game this week at Iowa State and in the season finale Nov. 25 at Oklahoma.

"I think with the play action it will definitely open up some running lanes for the I-backs. And that was just it, when you put eight guys on the line of scrimmage and bite so much on the play fakes, you're going to get a guy deep," Berringer said.

He expects Iowa State and Oklahoma, the last two regular-season foes, to reconsider loading up to stop Nebraska's nation-leading rushing game.

"When a team like Nebraska comes down the line like that, guys have a tendency to fly around a little bit more," Berringer said. "And when you step back and throw the ball like that, I think it makes our option game more deadly. I think it's going to just keep people more honest both ways. Any time you have that balanced an attack, it's going to do some good things for your running game and your passing game."