The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, August 31, 1998, Page 9, Image 9

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    Solich pleased with opener
Louisiana Tech's offense can't spoil day for new coach
By Shannon Heffelfinger
Senior staff writer
Sometime in the third quarter of the
Eddie Robinson Classic on Saturday at
Memorial Stadium, Louisiana Tech’s Troy
Edwards crashed a game that, up to that
point, had been a Nebraska celebration of
everything that was new.
The third-ranked Cornhuskers opened
their 1998 season with a 70-yard scoring
drive that took only 48 seconds, calming
the nerves of first-year Coach Frank
Solich, first-year quarterback Bobby
Newcombe and an inexperienced offen
sive line. And for its part, the NU defense
held Tech to minus-7 yards rushing and
156 yards passing in the first half, good
for a 35-6 Husker lead.
Then Edwards intruded on the party,
scoring on receptions of 52 yards and 94
yards on his way to an NCAA-record 405
yards receiving, 21 receptions and three
But the first-half lead proved too
much to overcome as Nebraska (1-0)
defeated the Bulldogs 56-27 in front of
76,021 at Memorial Stadium.
The numbers for Louisiana Tech (0-1)
may have been large, but for Solich, the
day was still a good time - under the cir
cumstances, that is.
“I’m glad it’s over and I think our
players certainly are,” Solich said. “It was
pretty difficult in terms of all of the media
“In a program like Nebraska’s, you’re
going to attract a certain amount of atten
tion, but when a new guy comes in and
takes over, it’s going to be virtually
impossible to prepare for.
“All in all, I was pleased with the team
and their performance. Louisiana Tech
has a very fine football team, and I don’t
think there is any questions about that. All
in all, it was a win, and we are delighted.”
The solid performance of several
inexperienced players highlighted a slop
py game, Solich said. In his first start at
quarterback, Newcombe, who suffered a
left knee injury during the game, com
pleted 9of 10 passes for 168 yards,
including a 46-yard touchdown bomb to
Sheldon Jackson on the third play of the
Sophomore I-back Correll
Turning point . .. a
Joe Walker’s 99-yard kickoff return after
Louisiana Tech cut NU’s lead to 21-6.
Walker’s return put Nebraska back up by
three touchdowns and out of serious harm
for the rest of the game.
Jon Frank/DN
Buckhalter, making his first start in place
of injured DeAngelo Evans, rushed for
143 yards on 19 carries behind four new
starters on an offensive line that drew
only one penalty.
“I thought Bobby did a great job for
his first start,” Solich said. “He showed a
lot of composure, a great deal of poise and
great deal of athletic ability. He threw the
ball well, and I thought we probably put it
up a little more. But we had some success
running the ball. And we saw enough
passes from them.”
rorty-six too many, to be exact. lech
quarterback Tim Rattay passed for a
career-best 590 yards, completing 46 of
68 attempts. It was the most passing yards
ever gained by an NU opponent.
Rattay and Edwards dominated the
Husker secondary in the third quarter.
Rattay hit Edwards for a 52-yard touch
down reception on the Bulldogs’ first
drive of the second half.
On Tech’s next drive, Rattay threw
over NU’s Mike Brown and Ralph Brown
and found Edwards again, who scored on
the 94-yard reception to close Nebraska’s
advantage to 35-21. Edwards averaged 19
yards per reception.
“I think they set us up and they caught
me relaxing in that long one,” Ralph
Brown said. “They had been throwing
Edwards short passes the whole game.
The play before the bomb, Rattay threw
long, but Edwards wasn’t even near the
ball. Then boom. He’s by me and gone.
“In all my days, I have never seen a
person do what (Edwards) did to us today.
That is the most impressive performance I
have even seen in my life.”
The Huskers countered with two scor
ing drives, the first a nine-play, 77-yard
drive that culminated in a Dan Alexander
four-yard touchdown run to put NU ahead
Tech struck one more time when
Rattay hit Edwards down the right side
Jti- ~
In all my days, I have
never seen a person do
what (Edwards) did to
us today. That is the
most impressive
performance I have
ever seen in my life.”
Ralph Brown
NU comerback
line for an 80-yard score, Rattay’s fourth
touchdown pass of the day.
Edwards impressed Mike Brown so
much that he apologized for the sec
ondary’s performance.
“He kept telling us that we couldn’t
cover him and that he was the best, and he
is the best,” Mike Brown said. “We’re
embarrassed by the way we played and we
have to apologize to all of our teammates
for not holding up our end of the bargain.”
NU Defensive Coordinator Charlie
McBride labeled NU’s tackling “pathet
ic,” and said the Huskers’ makeshift sec
ondary accounted for some of the defen
sive problems.
An injury to starting free safety Clint
Finley forced McBride and Defensive
Backs Coach George Darlington to move
No. 1 rover Mike Brown to the position.
No. 2 rover Joe Walker, who would have
played nickelback against Tech’s impres
sive passing attack, moved to No. 1 rover.
Solich, however, downplayed
Nebraska’s defensive lapses.
“That’s a tremendous amount of yards,
but that’s the way it goes on a first game,”
Solich said. “We have work to do, but I’m
satisfied with the effort of our team.
Certainly we need to work on some areas
of the game. For a first game, it’s OK.
“Rattay and Edwards are truly great
players. People have had trouble slowing
them down, and we did also.
“But all in all, it was a win. Now we're
ready to move on.”