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Sports

Fans will give Callahan and WCO time
NU Fans Will Look Back On Pittsburgh And Laugh - Some Day

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By ED HOWARD
September 20, 2004

Look on the brightest possible side.
 
Dailey prepares to throw. Photo: NU Sports Information.

There will come a "some day" when Nebraska football fans will reflect on the Huskers' 2004 run-in with Pittsburgh and laugh.

Nebraska held off the Panthers in the final minutes of the fourth quarter Saturday and came home from with a 24-17 victory.

"Yeah, boy! I remember when Callahan brought that West Coast offense out here. It was pretty dicey for awhile!"

This prognostication presumes that the WCO eventually will be mastered by Nebraska, and that 10-win seasons will again become as predictable as the annual increase in your property taxes.

Nebraska could easily have lost to Pittsburgh.

Linebacker Barrett Ruud summed it up nicely. Perfectly, perhaps.

"We really got to play a lot better and close people out in the second half."

Tight end Matt Herian was as accurate, and almost as succinct.

"We didn't perform near to our capability in the second half. That's kind of [the] story all year. We just got to tip our hats to the defense because they kept us in the game and won it for us."

NU scored 24 points during a first half wherein they could, and should, have scored at least 28. Probably 35.

The win lifted NU to 2-1. Pittsburgh is 1-1.

The great majority of NU fans are providing first-year Coach Bill Callahan and his charges with a cushion of good will within which to work. There are two reasons for this.

One is that Nebraskans have at least a modicum of fairness about them. It is a new system and a new coach.

Another is that, as the era of former Coach Frank Solich drew to a close, Nebraska fans got a whiff of trouble on the way. They sensed that the Husker program was a vehicle headed downhill without benefit of ABS. The ones with IQs that exceed pigskin have come to understand that being a perpetual powerhouse is not a birthright.

Nebraskans want Callahan to lead them out of the wilderness and they understand it will take time. They won't give him the biblical 40 years that Moses enjoyed, but they will give him time.

Nebraska is idle this weekend. The Huskers will face Big 12 rival Kansas on October 2.

In the early going Saturday, quarterback Joe Dailey's receivers were about as dependable as Shaquille O'Neal at the free-throw line. They dropped at least four passes that should have been handled.

Time and again it was the defense that dealt Dailey and company good cards, forcing four first-half turnovers (three interceptions and a recovered fumble) and giving their offensive colleagues good field position.

Nebraska's special teams play also caused problems. Immediately following NU's first touchdown, Pitt's Marcus Furman returned the ensuing kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown.

Despite often heroic effort by the defense, riddled with injuries in the secondary on this day, Nebraska watched a 24-10 halftime lead dwindle.

After Dailey was intercepted in the fourth quarter, Pittsburgh's mounted an impressive drive. Quarterback Tyler Palko tossed a TD pass with 4:45 left on the clock.

NU was stifled on its next possession and punted. (Nebraska didn't score on its last eight possessions.)

Nebraska managed to eat up some of the fourth quarter clock, thanks in substantial part to a wrong-headed pass interference penalty levied against Pittsburgh. (It happens to everyone.)

When they finally got the ball, the Panthers mounted an impressive drive.

With seconds left in the game, Pittsburgh was at the Husker 14 yard line. A substitution penalty moved the Panthers back, and a prayerful last-gasp pass by quarterback Tyler Palko went unanswered.

Whew! For a few minutes it was beginning to look like NU might fold, as it did against Southern Mississippi the week before. NU led 17-9 in the third period, but eventually lost, 21-17.

Saturday's victory decidedly belonged to NU's defense. Pittsburgh managed just 108 yards in the first three quarters. They managed 150 in the fourth period, but the Black Shirts came through when it counted.

Nebraska managed only 75 total yards in the second half, completed one pass and had only five first downs.

What was maddeningly obvious at the outset was that Nebraska had the offensive talent to really wallop the Panthers.

What became evident in the second half was that NU had lost traction – mentally. The wet field caused problems for Cory Ross and other Husker running backs; but let's remember that while NU was playing on a wet field the guys from Pittsburgh weren't playing on a dry one.     

Nebraska will play Kansas in Lincoln on October 2.

Box Score 

                     1   2   3   4   - Final

Nebraska           10  14   0   0   -  24

Pittsburgh          7   3   0   7   -  17

1st quarter

NEB - S.DeAngelis 26 field goal 7:16

NEB - C.Ross 2 run (S.DeAngelis kick) 1:07

PIT - M.Furman 96 kickoff return

 (J.Cummings kick) 0:52

2nd quarter

NEB - R.Pilkington 6 pass from J.Dailey

 (S.DeAngelis kick) 12:22

NEB - J.Dailey 17 run (S.DeAngelis kick) 5:46

PIT - J.Cummings 38 field goal 0:04

4th quarter

PIT - G.Lee 34 pass from T.Palko

 (J.Cummings kick) 4:45

                                     NEB      PIT

FIRST DOWNS...................       15       15

RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............   43-123    25-30

PASSING YDS (NET).............      142      228

Passes Att-Comp-Int...........  23-11-1  45-22-3

TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS.....   66-265   70-258

Fumble Returns-Yards..........      0-0      0-0

Punt Returns-Yards............      1-8     6-20

Kickoff Returns-Yards.........     3-64    4-139

Interception Returns-Yards....     3-61      1-5

Punts (Number-Avg)............   9-38.8   7-43.6

Fumbles-Lost..................      1-0      2-1

Penalties-Yards...............     8-60    11-60

Possession Time...............    32:14    27:46

Third-Down Conversions........  3 of 14  8 of 18

Fourth-Down Conversions.......   0 of 1   2 of 3

Red-Zone Scores-Chances.......      4-5      0-1

Sacks By: Number-Yards........     3-23     2-10

RUSHING

Nebraska: C.Ross 24-73; T.Green 5-24; J.Dailey 8-14; D.Horne 6-12.

Pitt: R.Kirkley 13-23; T.Murphy 2-9; M.Furman 1-3; T.Palko 7-0; J.Flacco 2-minus 5.

PASSING

Nebraska: J.Dailey 11-22-1-142; K.Huston 0-1-0-0.

Pitt: T.Palko 22-45-3-228; J.Flacco 0-0-0-0.

RECEIVING

Nebraska: R.Pilkington 5-81; M.Herian 2-26; M.LeFlore 2-13; G.Mulkey 1-18; S.Kriewald 1-4.

Pitt: G.Lee 6-98; J.Delsardo 4-38; M.Furman 3-4; R.Kirkley 3-5; D.Strong 2-40; K.Chandler 2-31; E.Gill 2-12.

Attendance: 40,133

 

NU Fans Will Look Back On Pittsburgh And Laugh - Some Day
Post your feedback on this topic here
09/20/2004 Well, it's obvious by now that we... Huskernut
09/20/2004 Didn't that stadium look just a tad... Gina L.
09/20/2004 Shame on all you fair-weather fans!... HuskerFaithful
09/21/2004 NO TALENT!! This is team that was... husker from ga.
09/21/2004 For two games now we have been out... Jim C.
09/21/2004 Let's look at last year. We got... rob
09/21/2004 Honestly what was Solich going to do... Nate
09/21/2004 Well, I'd say NU has a long way to go... Loren Taft
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