Husker Football Notebook, 9/3: Ruud happy to be part of the action
BY STEVEN M. SIPPLE and RYLY JANE HAMBLETON / Lincoln Journal Star
Nebraska weakside linebacker Bo Ruud received a nice gift for his 22nd birthday Saturday — a fourth-quarter pass thrown right at him that he hauled in for his second career interception.
His celebration was somewhat subdued.
“It’s kind of a weird day for me,” Ruud said after Nebraska’s 49-10 triumph against Louisiana Tech.
You see, it also was his mother’s birthday. Jaime Ruud, who died of a heart attack in June, would have been 53.
“I was glad to see Bo have a big play,” Nebraska defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove said. “I think he played well the whole day.”
Actually, Ruud said, he felt somewhat frustrated because Louisiana Tech ran a lot of outside stretch plays away from him and threw many passes to the tight end side, where the strongside linebacker plays.
“Steve (Octavien) and I were laughing,” said Ruud, referring to Nebraska’s backup weakside linebacker. “We’re trying to be impact players, and we couldn’t get near the ball.
“It was good to just get in on a play because I was so bored out there,” Ruud said of the interception. “It just helped make me feel like I did something today.”
Ruud said he read quarterback Zac Champion’s eyes and stepped into the passing lane. The Huskers were playing a “cover 2” alignment.
Louisiana Tech wound up with 305 yards of total offense.
“I think there’s room for improvement,” Ruud said. “We knew what they were doing and still gave up some yards. I truthfully think we can be a lot better than we showed today, in terms of getting after the QB. Our blitzes weren’t as good, and we gave up some easy passes. We had some stuff we kind of gave them.”
Injury report: Middle linebacker Phillip Dillard and cornerback Isaiah Fluellen, a pair of top Husker backups, suffered knee injuries Saturday and will undergo MRIs. “There are some preliminary reports, but I don’t want to make mention of anything prematurely until we can find out exactly what’s wrong,” Nebraska coach Bill Callahan said. “I’m hopeful nothing’s wrong.”
Verbal commitment: Quentin Castille, a 6-foot-1, 234-pound fullback from La Porte, Texas, on Saturday gave Nebraska coaches a verbal commitment to accept their scholarship offer. He becomes the 10th high school player to pledge to the Huskers’ class of 2007. In addition to Nebraska, Castille received scholarship offers from Louisville, Michigan State, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Iowa State, Central Florida and Texas-El Paso.
Purify learning: Wideout Maurice Purify, a touted junior college transfer, made a 28-yard reception on a third-and-9 play to set up Nebraska’s first touchdown. He didn’t have another pass thrown his way. “He’s new to the offense and still learning it,” quarterback Zac Taylor said. “I’m confident we’ll see a lot of him this season.”
Purify is quickly picking up the offense, offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said.
“(Maurice) will improve, and he should play a bigger part as the season goes along,” the coach said.
Ganz sees action: Sophomore Joe Ganz led two late touchdown drives in his first game appearance as a Husker. After entering the game with 9:15 remaining in the fourth quarter, he fired completions on two third-down plays, including a 29-yard touchdown pass to reserve tight end Hunter Teafatiller to complete the scoring.
“He read it all the way back to his fourth progression,” Norvell said. “His first three options were covered, and he found the open guy. That was a credit to Joey and his preparation and the way he’s been practicing. I was really happy for him.”
Darlington returns: The weird thing for George Darlington wasn’t being back in Memorial Stadium after spending 30 years coaching in the Husker program.
It was coming back with a visiting team and ending up in the same locker room the Huskers used when he coached at NU.
“I still can’t get over looking at the North end and seeing the home team come out there,” said Darlington, the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator. “I’m disappointed we didn’t play better. Nebraska certainly has improved overall. You saw the improvement in the latter part of last year and it’s continued.
“Their offense is very balanced. If you overload to stop the run, they can hurt you passing,”
That was not the most difficult aspect of playing the Huskers.
“The multiplicity of their offense is really tough on young players, all the moving around and different personnel groupings,” he said. “I’m sure we won’t have to face the multiplicity we saw today. This should be the best lesson for a young team. Now, other offenses we see, as far as all the shifts and motions and things like that, will seem like kindergarten stuff compared to this.