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4 NEBRASKA

Aug. 05, 1995
Aug. 05, 1995

Table of Contents
Aug. 5, 1995

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Scouting Reports

4 NEBRASKA

The sun had just emerged from a line of clouds when the moment
arrived at last. Cornhusker coach Tom Osborne had been chasing
this day for 22 years, but in the fading glow of an evening in
April, those decades of lost opportunities seemed to melt away.
In front of 40,000 fans at Memorial Stadium, he formally
received the national championship trophy--or his albatross, as
he had come to call it. But after 30 seconds of thunderous
applause from the Nebraska faithful, Osborne cut the celebration
short. "You better sit down, or this will take all night" he
said, and then uttered a few thank-yous before returning to his
seat on the dais.

This is an article from the Aug. 5, 1995 issue

Osborne might have been wise to milk the moment, because his
chances of another day in the sun after the '95 season are not
so good. Following the ceremony, 14 starters from the
championship team walked off the field and disappeared into the
stadium's catacombs for the final time. The most devastating
losses are in the offensive line, where four of the five
monoliths who made up the finest front wall in college football
history have departed. Graduation also robbed the defense of
seven starters who had helped the Huskers finish in the top 10
in all four major statistical categories last season, marking
the third time that had happened at Nebraska since World War II.

"We lost some very good players," says Osborne. "We'll count on
true freshmen more than we have in a long time to give us depth
at three or four positions."

It isn't just the exodus of experienced players that concerns
Osborne. Two of the returning starters face court dates that
could affect their futures with the team: Junior tailback
Lawrence Phillips (page 68) was charged in June with disturbing
the peace, while senior cornerback Tyrone Williams is awaiting
trial on two felony weapons charges. In addition, senior split
end Reggie Baul pleaded guilty to possession of stolen property
in March and was sentenced to 20 hours of community service.

Even with these departures and legal difficulties, though, there
is a feeling in Lincoln that 1995 might be as magical as '94.
Says Osborne, "Playing for anything less than the whole ball of
wax this season would be anticlimactic."

The competition for so many open positions has made Nebraska a
hungry team. For example, consider the off-season emergence of
senior quarterback Brook Berringer. At winter drills, Berringer,
who was 7-0 as a starter last season, earned the highest-ever
performance index rating (which measures athleticism based on
weight) for a Husker QB. Never known for his speed, Berringer
ran a 4.63 40. In one practice session during the off-season, he
got a rare "3" grade from the coaching staff for a pulverizing
block he threw to spring a tailback for a touchdown.

"I'm not saying Brook didn't try hard before," says Turner Gill,
Nebraska's quarterbacks coach. "But this year the quarterback
situation is much more competitive, especially on Brook's part."

Says Berringer, "I don't feel I've reached my potential yet. I'm
looking forward to winning the starting job and proving how well
I can play."

The second-highest performance index rating ever for a Husker
quarterback belongs to Tommie Frazier, who is 21-3 as a starter
and ran a 4.61 40 over the winter. He is no longer taking
anticoagulant medication for the blood clots in his right leg
that caused him to miss eight games last season, and he has
worked diligently on his mechanics to improve his passing. It
seems to be working: In the spring game, Frazier threw for a
game-record 228 yards. He also practiced returning punts, a role
he filled in high school.

Osborne has said he won't make a decision on who will start at
quarterback until the week before the team's season opener at
Oklahoma State on Aug. 31. But the odds that Berringer will
start at Stillwater are about as good as those that Osborne will
do stand-up on The Tonight Show. Even more than his physical
skills, it is Frazier's ability to rally his team to
victory--unparalleled in the Big Eight since Jamelle Holieway
(Oklahoma) and Darian Hagan (Colorado) were taking their teams
to national titles in 1985 and '90, respectively--that makes him
so valuable.

The Huskers are well-stocked at the other skill positions. If
Nebraska doesn't jump out to huge first-half leads that would
diminish his playing time, Phillips could challenge Mike
Rozier's school record of 2,148 yards in a season. "Our
backfield may be one of the very best we've had in terms of
quality players with experience," says Osborne.

The defense will be led by the brother tackle tandem of
Christian and Jason Peter, who together form a 560-pound
wrecking ball. The rest of the unit is mostly made up of quick,
relatively small players, the kind that Osborne has been
coveting since the 23-3 loss to Miami in the 1989 Orange Bowl.
After that defeat Osborne decided to remake his defense in the
image of Miami and Florida State, with speed as a primary
ingredient.

Nebraska should be able to glide through its nonconference
schedule. And with Big Eight rivals Colorado and Oklahoma
adjusting to new coaches and searching for championship-caliber
quarterbacks, another national title isn't out of the question
for the Huskers. Who knows? Osborne might even find something
to say about a second one.

--LARS ANDERSON

COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BIEVER The likely starter at quarterback, Frazier may return punts as well. [Tommie Frazier]

THE DATA BOX

Head coach: Tom Osborne
Career college record: 219-47-3
23rd year at Nebraska (219-47-3)

1994 RECORD: 13-0
Big Eight record: 7-0 (first)

W West Virginia 31-0 (Kickoff Classic)
W at Texas Tech 421-6
W UCLA 49-21
W Pacific 70-21
W Wyoming 42-32
W Oklahoma State 32-3
W at Kansas State 17-6
W at Missouri 42-7
W Colorado 24-7
W Kansas 45-17
W at Iowa State 28-12
W at Oklahoma 13-3
W Miami 24-17 (Orange Bowl)

Final '94 ranking: 1 AP, 1 CNN/USA Today

Lettermen lost: 25
Lettermen returning: 56
Returning starters, offense: 4
Returning starters, defense: 4

KEY GAMES:
Sept. 9 at Michigan State
Oct. 28 at Colorado
Nov. 24 Oklahoma

PLAYER TO WATCH

On the two-deep depth chart released before spring practice, Jay
Foreman was nowhere to be found. The redshirt freshman, who has
the most famous last name on the Husker roster--his father,
Chuck, is a former Pro Bowl running back for the Minnesota
Vikings--was buried at fifth-string linebacker. But after
amassing 10 tackles, two for losses, against the top offense in
the Red-White game, the 6'1", 200-pound Foreman has emerged as
Nebraska's starting strong-side linebacker.

"Foreman has really come on," says defensive coordinator Charlie
McBride. "He came here with the ability to play running back,
receiver or defensive back, but we decided right away to try him
at linebacker."

Foreman, who played at Eden Prairie (Minn.) High for Mike Grant,
the son of former Viking coach Bud Grant, will be one of seven
new defensive starters for Nebraska. He is untested and
undersized, but one thing is certain: He's quickly making a name
for himself in Lincoln.