Healthy Berringer ready to face Colorado

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

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- After three weeks of playing cautiously, Nebraska quarterback Brook Berringer is healthy again. Just in time for No. 2 Colorado.

Nebraska coach Tom Osborne has been trying to protect Berringer, who suffered a partially collapsed lung in his first career start against Wyoming on Oct. 1 and damaged it again the following week against Oklahoma State.

In games against Kansas State and Missouri, Osborne limited the use of Nebraska's major offensive weapon -- the option -- and let the running backs and the defense carry the team. Berringer was not allowed to use audibles to change plays.

That strategy is finished.

"My lung is 100 percent. I feel real good. I feel like I can take any kind of hit," Berringer said.

The Cornhuskers (8-0), ranked third nationally, play No. 2 Colorado (7-0) on Saturday in a game with serious national championship implications.

Berringer says he won't hold anything back, and that's good news to a team whose national title hopes were supposedly dashed in late September when quarterback Tommie Frazier was lost for the season with recurring blot clots in his right leg.

"I came here in a tough situation where there were a lot of people who maybe had some questions whether I'd be able to get it done," Berringer said. "To most people who know anything about football, I think I've proved we can move the football, that we're still Nebraska and we're going to get it done."

The Cornhuskers's offense is No. 1 in the nation in rushing, No. 3 in scoring and No. 3 in total offense. And that's after two games of playing with only about 70 percent of their offense.

Now, Osborne wants to see what Berringer can do when healthy and without limitations. He hasn't seen that yet.

"Against Wyoming, he played the whole game full out, even though he played the last half with a collapsed lung," Osborne said.

Berringer ran for three touchdowns in that 42-32 victory, with two of the TDs coming in the second half as he played unknowingly with the lung injury.

"Against Oklahoma State, he played for a half. He was a little under wraps," Osborne said.

"Against K-State, he was completely under wraps in terms of getting hit and a little under wraps last week (at Missouri) in terms of getting hit. So he's really gone through about 3 1/2 games where we've tried to protect him."

Still, Berringer led a 17-6 victory over then-No. 16 K-State after Matt Turman quarterbacked NU to a 7-6 halftime lead. Against Missouri, Berringer threw three touchdown passes.

On the season, Berringer has hit 45 of 75 passes (60 percent) for 527 yards and six touchdowns. He has rushed for another 169 yards and five touchdowns on 35 carries, a 4.8-yard average.

"I think his knowledge of the offense is excellent. No. 1, I think he's a good thrower. He has pretty good speed. I suspect he'll play well," Osborne said.