Berringer settling into role as Cornhuskers starting QB

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

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- Brook Berringer hopes his next start as Nebraska's quarterback is less eventful than his last.

Berringer, who made his first start in place of injured Tommie Frazier last week, fell behind early, rallied the second-ranked Cornhuskers to victory and then spent the night in the hospital with a partially collapsed lung.

The injury occurred on his 5-yard touchdown run just before halftime.

"I knew right away something was wrong. When the guys helped me and I got stood up, I got excited about the touchdown," he said. "When I got to the sidelines, I had some pain in the ribs. At the time, I thought I had some bruised ribs and didn't think much about it."

Berringer spent the night having his lung reinflated, but was back on the practice field Tuesday. With Frazier apparently lost for the season after surgery Thursday to tie off a vein that may have contributed to a recurring blood clot in his leg, Berringer seems to hold the key for the Cornhuskers.

On Saturday, he'll make his first Big Eight conference start against Oklahoma State (3-1) in Lincoln. Behind him, the Cornhuskers have Matt Turman, a sophomore walk-on, or quarterback turned starting safety Tony Veland.

Oklahoma State coach Pat Jones said he won't expect anything different from Nebraska with Berringer at the controls, something he likely learned last week.

Berringer, playing in pain for all of the second half, ran for 74 yards and three TDs, and completed 15 of 22 passes for 131 yards.

"I was happy I got to finish the game," Berringer said. "I felt I came out and did some things to get the job done the second half."

The 6-foot-4, 210-pounder from Goodland, Kan., led a second-half rally that brought Nebraska back from a 21-7 deficit. His running also helped break things open for I-back Lawrence Phillips, who had 168 yards and three more TDs.

"I thought I was just a little banged up," he said. "I didn't want to come out of the game. I didn't tell (coaches or team doctors) I was hurt bad. I didn't think I was hurt bad. I just wanted to finish the game off."

Berringer will be fitted with as much protection as he can stand this week, although the best protection may be good blocking.

He said a flak jacket helped him against Wyoming.

"I think if I hadn't had the flak jacket, I would have had some rib damage," he said. "I think it would take quite a blow to collapse the lung without that.

"They say it's a pretty unusual injury to have a collapsed lung without a broken rib. Usually it's a broken rib that punctures the lung. So I think they flak jacket saved me on the hit."