[ Big Eight Conference Features Page | The Big Eight Conference Page | The Football Server ]

Huskers worried about ASU's passing

(c) 1995 Copyright The News and Observer Publishing Co.
(c) 1995 Associated Press

LINCOLN, Neb. (Sep 14, 1995 - 20:06 EDT) -- Nebraska surrendered 10 points and a measly 45 rushing yards last week in a 50-10 rout of Michigan State.

Not good enough.

"Frankly, I was a little disappointed after the game," said coach Tom Osborne, whose No. 2 Huskers play Arizona State on Saturday. "I didn't feel that we got much of a pass rush going."

Michigan State's Tony Banks finished with 290 yards passing and a touchdown. The concern this week is that Jake Plummer, who has thrown for 455 yards in two games for the Sun Devils, will carve up the Huskers' secondary.

Defensive coordinator Charlie McBride said the Nebraska pass rush has been hurt by the hip injury to end Grant Wistrom, who as a sophomore last season was voted the Big Eight's top defensive newcomer.

He has none of Nebraska's seven sacks this year. McBride said Wistrom is not as strong in his pass rushes because of the injury and his special teams work.

"We put him on kickoff teams, on punt cover teams, he's on everything ... he gets really tired," McBride said.

Arizona State tailback Chris Hopkins will test Wistrom and the rest of the Nebraska line, which is giving up 94.5 yards rushing. Hopkins, one of only two seniors on offense, rushed for 131 yards and a touchdown in a 45-20 victory against Texas-El Paso last week.

"They want to run the football," secondary coach George Darlington said. "Their philosophy is like ours in that they want to be a physical, hard-nosed running team to set up bootlegs and play-action passes.

"They are not a team that is going to make a living just lining up and throwing it 100 times. They want balance."

Nebraska and Arizona State have similar defenses, a 4-3 alignment that emphasizes a strong pass rush. Osborne figures the scheme, which leaves the secondary in one-on-one coverage much of the time, should work.

"It's feast or famine -- if you're good enough, it's very difficult to operate (against)," he said. "If you have a weak link, your going to give up some big plays."