Blackshirts take lead role in Husker win

Peter leads NU defensive effort

The Associated Press

Nebraska I-back Jay Sims makes a move around Oklahoma's Terrance Malone.

By Todd Henrichs/The Independent

NORMAN, Okla. - When Nebraska takes its show on the road, the Huskers' defense enjoys playing the lead role.

Saturday, the Huskers did it again, forcing four turnovers in a 73-21 win over Oklahoma at Owen Field.

"Something we try to always have is a couple of three-and-outs, especially early, to get the other team's crowd out of the game," Nebraska rush end Jared Tomich said. "Today we came out right away and shut them down. That was something we thought was important to do."

Nebraska didn't just shut down Oklahoma. It stuffed the Sooners early. Nebraska forced Oklahoma to punt without allowing a first down on the game's first three possessions and five of the first six drives. In the last five games, Nebraska has forced opponents to go three-and-out on 38 of 74 possessions.

At the heart of Saturday's effort was defensive lineman Jason Peter. Despite playing with a broken hand, Peter unofficially produced a game-high six tackles, a tackle for loss, quarterback sack and deflected a pass that led to one of the Huskers' four interceptions.

"We dominated them from the very first snap," Peter said, "but before every game we expect to shut down people.

"Everybody knows about our defense and when the offense has it in their head that they can't move the ball on us, then you've won the battle. You get a sack or tackle for loss early and people really start to question themselves."

Oklahoma, which was coming off a 350-yard, 35-point performance a week ago against Kansas State, was shut out on 89 yards through the first three quarters. The Sooners' turnovers led directly to 31 Nebraska points. This season, NU has scored 115 points off turnovers. The defense itself has scored 42 points, including seven on Saturday's 83-yard interception return by Ralph Brown.

"Right when the quarterback dropped back, he looked right there," Brown said. "I got a good jump on the ball and then I was just praying I'd make it to the end zone."

Brown, a freshman, said he probably wouldn't have been able to make such an aggressive read early in the season. Saturday's interception, however, was his third.

"Each week, I feel like he's gotten better," said Mike Minter, who along with Jay Foreman had an interception Saturday.

One of the biggest fans of Nebraska's defense is NU quarterback Scott Frost. He said the takeaways not only aid in field position (Nebraska's starting point on drives Saturday was the Oklahoma 49), but wears on an opposing defense.

"When they keep giving us the ball inside the 30 and getting all those turnovers, it makes it easy on our offense and puts a lot of pressure on defenses like Oklahoma," Frost said. "They're tough."

Oklahoma did gain 242 yards rushing - the most against the Huskers this season - but 179 came in the fourth quarter. All but seven of De'Mond Parker's 151 yards came in the final period.

The Huskers sacked OU quarterbacks five times. Tomich had two as Nebraska moved to within eight of equaling its season record of 49 sacks set in 1985.

But despite the performance, at least one Sooner wasn't ready to call Nebraska's defense the best in school history. Running back James Allen said the 1994 Huskers, who beat Oklahoma 13-3, compared favorably.

"They weren't the best team I've played against," said Allen, who managed 32 yards on 15 carries. "They were quick, but we just couldn't get our running game going."
© 1996 The Grand Island Independent
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