The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, October 01, 1999, Page 10, Image 10

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    - __ I
Battle in football trenches gets ugly
By Samuel McKewon
Senior staff writer
It’s a strip of land, maybe 3 or 4
yards wide. About 12 yards long.
Only a tiny piece of the 100-yard
field on which the game football is
played.
To go inside it is to delve inside
fear, rage, embarrassment and
machismo. The biggest, strongest
men of the game live and breathe
there, struggling for leverage and
battling for an advantage that might
mean the difference between win
ning and losing.
It is an area commonly called the
trenches. Within it is violence, brutal
ity and, ultimately, the place where
games are won and lost.
“It’s just pure hate that goes on
down there,” said NU center
Dominic Raiola. “Everything that’s
pent up from whatever, you let it out
there.”
While the job often goes unno
ticed by television cameras and
newspaper reporters, the fact is never
lost on the offensive and defensive
linemen who do battle, play in and
play out.
Such was the case in the
Comhuskers’ 24-17 victory last year
over Oklahoma State. The Cowboys
had forged their way inside the NU 1 -
yard line by the last play of the game.
On the final play, the Huskers’ defen
sive line, which had been outplayed
most of the game by the OSU offen
sive line, won the battle that mattered
the most.
Oklahoma State tailback Nathan
Simmons was stood up right before
the goal line. Nebraska won and pre
served its 37-year winning streak
against the Cowboys.
“You can’t have any fear at all,
and you can tell when guys do,” said
NU offensive lineman James
Sherman. “You have get ready to col
lide with another person play in, play
out. It feels good, especially when
you get the upper hand.”
But it isn’t always easy. Linemen
inside the trenches are more likely to
play hurt, Sherman said. The tactics
inside the pile are often dirty. As rush
end Aaron Wills said, “Anything
goes.
“You hear of guys scratching out
each other’s eyeballs, although that’s
never happened to me,” Wills said. “I
know it goes on, though.”
Describing how, exactly, it works
in the trenches or how to succeed
there isn’t easy. Both Wills and
Sherman struggle for the right words,
as if it’s easier to describe with a hit.
There’s always the classic defini
tion from former San Francisco 49ers
guard Harris Barton, who equated
playing in the trenches to getting into
a car and crashing into a brick wall
66
You hear of guys scratching out each
others eyeballs, although that's
never happened to me."
Aaron Wills \j
NU rush end
over and over for 60 minutes.
Wills sees it in a similar way.
“You go 100 miles per hour, and
you thrash into this guy,” he said.
“And you can’t stop. Because the guy
across from you won’t stop.”
Said Sherman: “All means neces
sary is what comes to mind. If I can
knock somebody down, I’ll do it. If
somebody’s just standing around and
the whistle hasn’t blown yet, I’ll go
and knock them down. That’s the way
it has to be.”
The physical game might be
matched only by the mental antics
that go on. More often than not, Wills
said, the defensive players are the
ones that do the trash-talking.
Sherman said the offensive players
get their share in. But both said the
mental part of the game is critical.
It can be the difference between
beating a lineman or not, Wills said.
While not every player likes the trash
talk, every player does try to gain the
advantage, Wills said.
“I’m not going to scream and
yell,” Wills said. “But if I make a play
early in the game, I’ll go right to my
guy, ‘You’re going to have to do bet
ter than that, because I’m coming like
that on every play.’And then you have
to come like that every play.”
Wills and Sherman both said
that’s not hard to do, even when
they’re tired. A lot of it comes from
practice sessions, when the No. 1
offense will size up against the No. 1
defense. The trend was started in the
early 1990s by then-Nebraska Head
Coach Tom Osborne to simulate
game speed during the week.
Sherman said it does a lot more
for the Huskers than constantly going
against scout teams. **
“That’s game intensity right
there,” Sherman said. “We aren’t
going up against better players all
season than those guys right there.
“It’s the best test we could get.”
When the Huskers win, you win!
The margin of victory of Saturday s game equals
your discount on any one clothing item.
For example, if the Huskers win by 10 points, I
your discount is 10%.
Lower Level, Nebraska Union ■ 472-7300
Lower Level, East Union ■ 472-1746
efollett.com
*Sale on Monday 10/4/99 only.
(in-rtote items only)
an Qpartner of Qfollott.com.
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Nebraska
target for
Big 12 foes
By John Gaskins
Staff writer
Wednesday night, the Nebraska
volleyball team prevented one catastro
phe from repeating itself. Saturday, it
will have to do it all over again.
After avenging another Coliseum
upset by beating Kansas on Wednesday,
the No. 8 Huskers (10-3 and 2-1 in the
Big 12 Conference) will travel to Texas
for the second straight week to take on
No. 16 Texas A&M (11-2 and 2-1) on
Saturday at 7 p.m. Last year, the Aggies
beat NU in College Station for the
Huskers’ only loss of the regular sea
son.
Head Coach Terry Pettit has never
taken losing well, and he put team
members through an intense workout
after their upset loss to No. 17 Kansas
State at home last week. Though junior
outside hitter Nancy Meendering said
the Huskers don’t dwell on the KSU
flop, it has been a motivation factor.
“We don’t talk about it much, but I
think it’s still on our team’s mind,” said
Meendering, who leads NU with 4.65
kills per game. “Every day, I think that
match is an incentive for us, if nothing
else, to get in there and work hard.”
The hard work paid off as the
Huskers put behind them the unusual
trauma of having three losses before
October to come back and beat Texas
Tech on the road Sept. 25 and sweep
Kansas on Wednesday.
But Meendering said the relief from
those two wins won’t last long because
Nebraska, winners of 21 of 23 Big
Eight/Big 12 Championships, wears a „
big target on its back wherever it goes.
The KSU loss only added fuel to the
rest of league’s fire to dethrone the
defending champions.
“I think they get pumped up
because before K-State beat us, there
may have been some teams that were
thinking, ‘Oh, they’re Nebraska,”’
Meendering said, referring to the
defeatist attitude conference foes might
have had last year.
“But after Kansas State beat us,
they’re thinking, ‘Well, we can beat
them, too.’” /
Certainly, the Aggies (11-2 and 2-1)
don’t have many reasons to be lacking
confidence. They were one of two
teams in the nation to beat a more expe
rienced Nebraska squad last year and
were picked to finish second behind the
Huskers in this season’s Big 12
Preseason Coaches Poll.
Pettit said he picked A&M to finish
No. 1 in the conference based on their
returning starters. Despite losing All
American Stacy Sykora, who fired up ■
the Aggies in the five-set thriller over
NU, A&M returns a powerful lineup in
the middle.
Senior middle blocker Amber
Woosley has carried the Aggies thus far,
averaging 4.16 kills per game and 1.32
blocks while recording a .414 hitting
percentage.
“I don’t think we can let their mid
dle have a field day and expect to be
successful,” Pettit said. “We’re going to
need to run a diversified offense. We
can’t just go there and set Nancy. We’re
going to need to have other people in
double figures in kills.”
If the KU win was any indicator,
Pettit need not worry about broadening
the offensive attack. With Meendering
slowed to an unusually low 10 kills, the
Huskers relied on senior Mandy
Monson and bench warmers Kati^
Jahnke and Kim Behrends to combine
for 32 of NU’s 53 kills en route to its
best offensive output of the season.
Meendering, the preseasOn Big 12
Player of the Year, who smashed the
school record for kills in a game (39)
against K-State, doesn’t have a problem
with spreading the wealth.
“I thought the rest of the team realty
stepped up, especially the left-side hit
ters,” Meendering said. “It was realty
neat to see, because I see them in prac
tice every day and I know they are great
players.”