Nebraska toys with air attack in spring gamePosted: Saturday April 19, 2003 8:11 PM
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- In the days leading to Saturday's spring football game, new Nebraska offensive coordinator Barney Cotton predicted an uneventful scrimmage with bland play-calling.
To be sure, offense was not in abundance in the Red squad's 13-0 victory.
But the Cornhuskers showed they are committed to improving their passing game. In a game shortened to 12-minute quarters, there were 47 pass plays compared with 55 runs.
So much for Cotton's promise to run on two out of every three plays.
"Hopefully, defenses will realize when they play against us that we're going to attack them and try to make them defend the whole football field and be a little unpredictable," Cotton said. "We don't ever just want to get in a rhythm and make a defense think we're one-dimensional."
Though the quarterbacks combined to throw six interceptions on a rainy afternoon at Memorial Stadium, head coach Frank Solich said the glorified scrimmage was generally well-played.
The game ended four weeks of spring practice. The Huskers, coming off a 7-7 season, have 29 more practices in August before their opener against Oklahoma State on Aug. 30.
"We got a lot done in 15 practices," said Solich, who replaced six assistants in the offseason. "The coaches worked very well together and meshed well with the players. All in all, pretty good spring."
The Red squad was made up of the Nos. 1 and 4 offenses and Nos. 2 and 3 defenses. The Whites were made up of the Nos. 1 and 4 defenses and Nos. 2 and 3 offenses.
Both defensive units operated solely out of the basic 4-3 front and were allowed to run only one blitz package.
Plenty is still to be decided before the Oklahoma State game, Solich said.
The chief concern is finding a backup to quarterback Jammal Lord. Redshirt freshman Curt Dukes was 3-of-6 for 26 yards, with two interceptions. Junior Mike Stuntz, who didn't enter the game until late in the third quarter, was 2-of-6 for 45 yards.
Sophomore walk-on Garth Glissman saw the most action, taking snaps on seven series for the White squad. But Solich said Glissman, who hit on 9-of-17 passes for 78 yards, with two interceptions, did nothing to distinguish himself as a challenger to Dukes and Stuntz.
"He had a number of turnovers, and he needs to make better decisions in the running game," Solich said. "The good thing is that he is willing to work on everything he needs to work on."
No. 1 I-back David Horne led Red rushers with 50 yards on 10 carries. Marques Simmons led the White team with a game-high 55 yards on eight carries.
Fifteen different receivers caught passes in the game, with the Reds' Ross Pilkington leading the way with five receptions for 67 yards.
Lord goes into the fall as the undisputed No. 1 quarterback.
He attempted passes on three of the game's first four plays, completing two of them. He hit on 4-of-6 for 40 yards as the Red squad drove 75 yards in 15 plays before Dale Endorf kicked a 20-yard field goal.
There was chicanery on the White's first play from scrimmage. Glissman walked down the line as if to audible, then went into motion to his left as the snap went directly to Simmons, the I-back. Simmons tried to throw to Glissman but was intercepted by strong safety Blake Tiedtke.
The Red squad scored five plays later with Corey Ross running in from 3 yards with 3:08 left in the first quarter.
That was all the scoring until Endorf kicked a 22-yard field goal a minute into the fourth quarter.
Glissman led the White squad from its 23 to the Red 7 on his second series, but it ended on free safety Dan Burrow's interception in the end zone.
White middle linebacker Barrett Ruud then returned an interception of Lord to the Red 7, but Sandro DeAngelis missed a 21-yard field-goal attempt.
On the Reds' ensuing possession, Endorf was wide left with a 44-yard attempt.
There were turnovers on the first three series of the second half, with Glissman and Dukes throwing interceptions and Glissman losing a fumble while being sacked.
Defensive coordinator Bo Pelini said he didn't put much stock in the scrimmage. He said he was pleased with his charges' work ethic and with how quickly they learned his defensive system.
"Today was just the last spring practice," Pelini said. "Talk to me after the Oklahoma State game. That's when it counts."