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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Oct. 23, 1998)
Alexander emerges as impact player against KU
By Shannon Heffelunger
Senior staff writer
When Dan Alexander heard
Correll Buckhalter announced as die
Nebraska football team's starting I
back minutes before the Kansas game
Saturday, he didn't jump to conclu
The Cornhuskers’ No. 3 I-back,
Alexander thought that Buckhalter’s
promotion meant only that NlPs coach
es had moved No. 1 I-back DeAngelo
Evans down a notch because of injury.
As usual, Alexander - a highly-touted
recruit in 1995 who has played little
since - wasn’t expecting to contribute
much to the Huskers’ fortunes.
But Nebraska’s 41-0 bashing of the
Jayhawks proved anything but usual for
the Wentzville, Mo., native. Alexander
rushed 15 times for 90 yards, both
“When I realized DeAngelo wasn’t
going to play, I was thinking, ‘Well,
maybe I could get in,”’ Alexander said.
“It turned about to be a nice surprise
that I got to play as much as I did. It was
nice to get into the flew and contribute.
“It was the most fun I’ve had in
awhile — to get in there and make a dif
ference. I haven’t played that much
since high school.”
As the Comhuskers prepare to play
host to Alexander’s home-state team,
Missouri, on Saturday at 11:37 am.,
Alexander; who often picks up several
yards after contact, hopes to show more
of his power-running style.
Every Big 12 school, Notre Dame
and Florida recruited Alexander in
1995. Many warned Alexander he
might not play much at Nebraska.
Injuries haven’t helped his cause.
Alexander tore his anterior cruciate lig
ament in the 1997 spring game and
missed part of his freshman season.
But as his fortunes turn, Alexander
wants his friends from Missouri to
know he didn't make a mistake by
accepting NUfe scholarship offer.
“Its been frustrating sometimes,”
Alexander said, “but I've tried to put
that into God's hands. I am here to get
“Also, if I had gone to another
school, I might be starting. But I
wouldn’t be the best player I could be.
That’s what you get here. Its a good
NU Coach Frank Solich praised
Alexander’s play Saturday. He said die
I-back’s attitude has pleased Husker
“When you have guys who still
come out and give a tremendous effort
and a great attitude who puts himself
behind the team, you have yourself a
player who will contribute to the sue
cess of your football team,” Solich said.
Alexander said he makes a con
science effort to have a good practice
“You’d think I would want to get
frustrated, but I won’t,” Alexander said.
“I want the coaches to see me and know
that if they need me, I will try just as
hard as anyone else in there.”
NITS DAN ALEXANDER has been impraving in his backup rola at l-back, aad saw extensive playing time against
Kansas in the absence of DeAngelo Evans. Alexander posted a career-high 91 yards with 15 carries Saturday.
Gillespie: Rushing game on track
By John Gaskins
With all the commotion over
Nebraska’s unusually unproductive
running game after the near-loss to
Oklahoma State and 28-21 loss to Texas
A&M, one would think that first-year
Running Backs Coach Dave Gillespie
coaches usually do - he made adjust
ments, went back to the basics and
worked the players a notch harder the
following week in practice.
“Obviously, there is some conster
nation and frustration when things
aren’t going as well as you’d like,”
cut 1 think like typical Nebraska
players, the reaction to that was to not
get down, but to bristle up and find oid
what’s wrong and get after it and make
The payoff? A 41-0 thrashing of
Kansas and a ground attack that pro
duced a season-best 466 yards on 79
And despite what some might con
sider a down year for die traditionally
dominant rushing attack, the Huskers
now lead the Big 12 Conference in
rushing offense at 270.4 yards per
“I think we executed a lot better,”
senior fullback Joel Makovicka said.
“Still, it’s something where we’re not
satisfied and not saying ‘now we can
run all over anybody.’”
However, after winning the national
rushing title five of the last seven sea
sons, that’s what.is ejected out of the
Huskergrotmd game. iFor Gillespie,
Head Coach Frank Sohch, that’s a lot to
live up to.
“Frank was the premiere running
backs coach in the country,” Gillespie
said. “And despite his stature, those are
big shoes to fill”
Gillespie, who played running back
for NU from 1974 to 1976, came off a
four-year stint as an assistant at Kansas,
where he coached the defensive line for
two of those seasons.
“He brings an understanding of
defense and defensive techniques and
how we can overcome those tech
niques,” sophomore I-back Dan
Alexander said. “I think he has helped
us a lot in that way.”
“He really made a smooth transition
and learned the offense well,”
Makovicka said. “It’s kind of like hav
ing two coaches out there. He really
coaches similar to Coach Solich.”
However, the circumstances sur
rounding the Huskers’ offensive attack
have been anything but smooth this
year. Plagued by injuries and inexperi
ence in both the backfield and offensive
line, Nebraska’s offense has hobbled all
Rock bottom of the rushing let
down came against OSU and A&M,
where Nebraska rushed for just 73 and
141 yards, respectively.
“(As far as) our lack of productivity
in those two games, certainly a lot of
credit has to go to those two football
teams,” Gillespie said. •
“On the flip side of that, maybe
emotionally we weren’t where we need
to be and our mentality wasn’t where it
needed to be.”
As a result of that, Alexander said,
Gillespie and the other coaches tough
ened up practices. He said Gillespie had
the backs running a lot more in practice
than in past weeks.
“He’s trying to get us to be more
physical, and be able to stick in there
and hit people, a lot of stuff that pro
motes mental toughness,” Alexander
The main aspect of improving the
rushing game has been getting back to
the heart and soul of NU rushing, the
up-the-middle power attack.
“We really wanted to get back to the
basics and run the ball between the
tackles,” Makovicka said. “They told
the linemen to get after people, and for
the most part, they did that”
After such an up-and-down year for
the running game, Gillespie said b«’s
not sure what to expect, other than the
backs to work harder than ever to
“I think our guys understand that if
they don’t prepare in practice to be
ready for a physical, head-knocking
game, they’re going to have their head
handed to them.”
NU women’s soccer team
hopes to keep momentum
By Christopher Heine
There’s little doubt Nebraska’s
women soccer team has played
tougher opponents this season.
One of the keys to a successful
season, though, is beating teams with
lesser records. The Comhuskers have
two contests ofthat type this weekend.
The first is against Oklahoma (7
7) Friday night at Abbott Sports
Complex. The Huskers (11-2-1) then
play again at home Sunday against
Oklahoma State ( 7-5-2 ) at 1 p.m.
in u uoacn Jonn walker knows
how important it is to take the
Oklahoma teams seriously.
Walker said a drop-off in effort
might cost the Huskers more than a
couple of victories as they try to build
momentum for postseason.
“First off, we need to maintain and
improve our level of play,” he said.
. “They (both teams) are clearly
capable of beating us if we don’t play
to our potential.”
Walker’s said a loss in NU’s final
two games could cost them a bye in die
next month’s conference tournament
“We want to be No. 1 (in die Big
12),” he said. “We don’t want to be
playing in the quarterfinals.”
Sandy Smith, die Husker’s team
captain, said the team’s upperclass
men will keep NU on the right track.
Smith said it didn’t take long for
this year’s squad to fiftd out the impor
tance of playing every team hard.
“We leaned that in the first game
by losing to Milwaukee-Wisconsin,”
“We have to come out excited and
pumped no matter if it’s Portland (No.
6) or Oklahoma,” Smith said.
Lindsey Eddleman, who scored
the game-winning goal last Sunday
against Kansas, said the Huskers are
“We know every game is impor
tant,” said the junior from Lakewood,
“We can’t afford to take anyone
lightly,” Eddleman said
Walker said winning this weekend
can only help NUls chances later on.
“We need to put ourselves in good
position for the NCAA tournament,”
Walker said Nebraska’s schedule
has a strong power rating. The 5th
year coach said playing Big 12 teams
like Oklahoma and Oklahoma State is
the reason why.
“Every team in the Big 12 is
tough,” he said
) - ii t " ' ■ '• 'J 4. X'S' ' : ~f. 15ja|
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Graduating college seniors are invited to apply for the 26th annual
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