Lord Helps Them
Quarterback Jammal Lord gives Nebraska hope even when the offense doesn't click
So much for worrying about the Nebraska defense. The team that gave up 99 points in its final two games last season held Arizona State to 258 total yards in a 48-10 victory last Saturday night Any relief that Cornhuskers fans felt, however, was tempered by the performance of the offense. Don't be fooled by Nebraska's 283 rushing yards: The starters had only one touchdown drive longer than 20 yards. The traditional Huskers running game, in which linemen open Hummer-sized holes through which Porsche-like backs dart, was nowhere to be seen. I-backs Dahrran Diedrick and Thunder Collins combined for 101 yards on 28 carries, with a long gain, by Diedrick, of 15. If you wear red in Memorial Stadium, 15 yards is what you're supposed to get before you outrun your blockers.
"The holes were there," Diedrick said afterward. "Sometimes they weren't where they need to be. But if the linemen get on people, that's all a running back is supposed to ask for."
Senior center John Garrison graded the line, which has three new starters, at B-minus. " Arizona State did some slanting that collapsed the holes really quickly," he said. "I give them credit for moving around."
The only Husker who seemed unbothered by the inconsistent line play was junior quarterback Jammal Lord, who rushed for 103 yards, about half of which came on scrambles. Lord, replacing Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch, also threw a touchdown pass and didn't turn the ball over. Not bad for a guy who hadn't taken a meaningful snap in his three years in Lincoln.
In Lord's 12 appearances over the last two seasons Nebraska held an average lead of 38-9 when he entered the game. He didn't need that cushion this time. With a 33-yard scramble in the first quarter against the Sun Devils, Lord gave notice that he also didn't need flawless execution from his teammates to move the chains. "He showed great poise," quarterbacks coach Turner Gill said. "It takes awhile for this offense to jell. There were plays where we didn't look very good, and he made something happen."
After the game Lord wore a huge ice pack on his right forearm and a tired smile. "The last time I woke up sore?" Lord said. He turned to his Bayonne ( N.J.) High coach, John Rickard, who fulfilled his promise to see Lord's first start in person.
"Marist," Rickard said.
"Marist game. Thanksgiving Day 1998," Lord said. "We lost 6-0. It still hurts me now. This is a good pain. Pain is real good when you win."
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