Osborne looking toward more improvement from the Cornhuskers

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

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- Bad news, Pacific. Nebraska coach Tom Osborne wants his second-ranked Cornhuskers to be better than in last week's 49-21 whipping of UCLA.

"I'm hopeful we'll become a better football team this week that we were last week," Osborne said Tuesday at his weekly news conference.

Last week wasn't exactly bad. The Huskers improved to 3-0 by running over a UCLA team that entered 2-0.

"I think it's always important to have some movement in a positive direction," Osborne said.

Nebraska has been made a prohibitive favorite in Saturday's game with the Tigers, but Osborne wasn't so quick to write off Pacific (2-1).

"You never know quite what each player is focusing on," Osborne said. "You can talk about the mood of the team but a team is made up of individuals. There are always individuals who will take you very seriously and some players who probably have other things on their mind.

"If I were to go by yesterday's practice, they are getting ready to play a game."

Osborne admits the matchup gives the appearances of being lopsided, but he doesn't take the credit or blame for scheduling this one. He did schedule a game with undermanned North Texas State a year ago and took a lot of criticism. But he also said such games are an economic necessity.

"Every home game at Nebraska is worth about $1 million," he said. "That's how we can afford to have 21 sports here."

It's also a pay day for Pacific, and Tigers coach Chuck Shelton has been around enough to know about teams like Nebraska. His Utah State teams played the Huskers three times in Lincoln.

"Our kids are here because they want to play against teams like that," Shelton said. "I just ask them to play hard, and let's hope the ball bounces right and see what happens."

Osborne said quarterback Tommie Frazier missed Monday's practice with a bruised calf muscle but was expected to be able to play Saturday.

Also, Ed Stewart, the Cornhuskers' middle linebacker and leading tackler, has been slowed by a swollen knee. Osborne wasn't sure how available Stewart would be this week.

"We hope it's nothing that's going to be long term, but he's still a little questionable right now," Osborne said.