Ag defense couldn't stop NU
October 27, 2002

In this world gone mad, where Texas A&M’s offense rules and Nebraska can’t win on the road, a maddening fog descended on Kyle Field late Saturday night and brought, of all things, clarity.

The world hasn’t gone mad. Nebraska just disappeared for about half a season.

Jamaal Lord suddenly looked like Eric Crouch and Tommie Frazier. True freshman David Horne began running like a true Nebraska I-back. And the Big Red handed A&M a loss, something that hasn’t always been such an event.

All of it left Kyle Field in a fog (if you stayed at home, and many of you did, you missed the fog), and now the Aggies are left to wonder one thing. OK, two things.

Why did Nebraska choose this week to turn back into Nebraska? And where has the Wrecking Crew gone?

Nobody can answer the first one. Nebraska has not been Nebraska this season. Nebraska wasn’t even Nebraska late last season.

Popular opinion around Aggieland this week suggested otherwise, but let’s be honest. The Cornhuskers don’t lose to Iowa State and Oklahoma State. Ever. The Cornhuskers don’t fall out of the Top 25. Ever.

Nebraska has done all of that, including losing its last five road games. And even after beating A&M on Saturday, the Cornhuskers are still in danger of having their worst season in like a million years ... or 40.

Forget trying to figure out why Nebraska played like Nebraska on Saturday. That the Cornhuskers acted like their old selves points to A&M, not Nebraska, anyway.

In fact, it points to the Wrecking Crew.

A&M’s defense had its worst performance of the season, and that’s saying something. Considering how poorly A&M defended against Texas Tech earlier this year, they Aggies have now proven that they can’t stop the run or pass.

Tech torched A&M for 474 passing yards, and Nebraska rushed for 381. Worse, Nebraska chalked up two (count them ... two!) 100-yard rushers. Lord gained 159, and Horne had a career-best 128. Dahrran Diedrick added 85 yards and probably could’ve busted the century mark considering he averaged 5.7 yards a carry.

Overall, Nebraska gained 497 yards — or more than it managed against powerhouse programs like Troy State, Utah State and Missouri earlier this season.

Should it matter that Tech and Nebraska’s offensive outburst came at Kyle Field? Maybe.

Should it matter that A&M played without defensive end Ty Warren on Saturday? Ask the Cornhuskers. They went without their best rush end, Chris Kelsay, so you’ll get no sympathy from Big Red.

And if Saturday is the best the Wrecking Crew can do, expect no sympathy from what’s left of the schedule. Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Texas are certain losses if A&M cannot resurrect its defense.

A&M needs defense? That eerie fog should’ve come with its own horror-film soundtrack. Fog and organ music from an old Vincent Price movie would’ve been fitting considering how strange a year it’s been.

Think about it. First A&M finds an offense and now this.

In the good old days, Aggie fans could sit around and debate which Wrecking Crew performance was the best of the year. Not anymore.

Technically, A&M gave up more yards to Tech, but Saturday’s effort against Nebraska game is worse because it happened on the ground. The Aggies came in allowing just 76.9 rushing yards per game, good for fifth in the nation. They held Virginia Tech’s “Untouchables” (Lee Suggs and Kevin Jones) to 99 yards total and had gone like a million games … or 20 … without allowing a 100-yard rusher.

They allowed two and almost three on Saturday, and like Kyle Field, the Wrecking Crew is beginning to lose its luster. Three home losses this season are killing Kyle Field’s reputation. The Kliff Kingsburys and Jamaal Lords of the Big 12 are killing the Wrecking Crew’s.

Earlier this year, the Aggie defenders said they wanted to be the No. 1 unit in the nation. Many of us believed it was possible.

After all, anything is possible. Or was.

.• Robert Premeaux Jr.’s e-mail address is rpremeaux@theeagle.com