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Tuesday, August 28, 2001

Measuring up
Frogs surprise experts, impress Nebraska coach
By Brandon Ortiz
sports editor

Throughout the off-season, head coach Gary Patterson called Saturday’s game against Nebraska a measuring stick.

Win or lose, the game represented a chance for the Horned Frogs to evaluate how far the program has come against one of the best schools in the country. The Frogs lost, 21-7, but put up a better showing than many experts anticipated.

Nebraska linebacker Mark Vedral chases down sophomore tailback Ricky Madison. Madison was limited to 33 yards rushing on 18 carries, an average of 1.8 yards an attempt. The Frogs overall had 56 yards rushing.

For 2 1/2 quarters Saturday, the Frogs were only six points behind the fourth-ranked team in the country and a program that has posted 32 consecutive nine-win or more seasons. This is despite Horned Frog’s starting quarterback, junior Casey Printers, was hobbling with a strained quadriceps, sophomore defensive end Bo Schobel tore his right anterior cruciate ligament and senior tight end Matt Schobel’s hamstring was bothering him.

“I thought our kids fought hard,” Patterson said. “I thought with a younger football team, we came in and after the initial shock of being in front of 78,000 and playing a team like Nebraska, I thought they settled down, especially on defense we played hard. I think even offensively, we will keep growing and the offensive line will give ourselves a chance.”

The Frogs’ defense definitely gave the team a chance to win Saturday. The defense had whipped around the offense in preseason scrimmages, but odds makers did not anticipate the Frogs having the same kind of results against the mighty Huskers, who averaged 41.5 points a game and 459.9 yards total offense last year. The Frogs’ defense dominated the second quarter, holding the Huskers to negative 20 yards rushing and 310 total yards for the game.

Nebraska head coach Frank Solich was impressed with the Frogs’ play on defense.

“They are a very physical football team,” Solich said. “They were a very good defensive team last season, statistically they were the best. We had too many plays that went for minus yardage.”

The Frogs were expected to lose by 28 points. Even though the game was closer than expected, senior linebacker Chad Bayer took no pride in the loss.

“You really can’t feel good after losing a game,” Bayer said. “I think the defense played OK, but not to the best of our ability. We have some things to work on. Nebraska found a lot of our weak spots.”

But the Frogs also managed to find Nebraska’s weak spots, giving Solich many fits.

“We didn’t pick things up well inside, but we did get back to where the option played a very big part in the second half,” Solich said. “Our power game struggled.”

Patterson said the Frogs’ experience playing the option helped.

“Once we got our option responsibilities down, we felt like that one of the things people are scared to do against the option is they are scared to blitz it,” Patterson said. “Because we play against it in practice, we understand a little bit more about it.

So we were able to take some chances and got fortunate on some plays and (Nebraska) lost yardage.”

The Frogs may not have pulled off the upset, but they performed better than anyone expected — except themselves.

“We knew that the game is played on the field,” Printers said. “The field is a 100 yards long, just like our field is a 100 yards long. That’s how we approached it. We didn’t look at them as these gods that couldn’t be beat.”

Brandon Ortiz


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