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The Huskers May Be Shockers
Douglas S. Looney
October 01, 1984
In overwhelming UCLA, the Nebraska no-names showed that they may be even stronger than their famed predecessors
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October 01, 1984

The Huskers May Be Shockers

In overwhelming UCLA, the Nebraska no-names showed that they may be even stronger than their famed predecessors

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?Sitting in his dorm room in Lincoln one evening last week, senior Jeff Smith, who took over for Rozier, eyed a poster on his wall. It's a composite of several NFL runners in action, and it reads, HOLD ON TO YOUR DREAM! Smith dreams of team success first and of being as good as Rozier second. "He's a better power runner up the middle," says Smith. "I'm more elusive." Osborne says Rozier was stronger and was a better blocker, could run inside and outside with more dispatch and was faster. "But Jeff is a competitor," says Osborne, charitably. Smith, however, says, "I know I'll get the job done." Last Saturday at the Rose Bowl, where UCLA plays all of its home games, Smith got the job done.

? Osborne says Gill was faster, had a stronger arm and was more of a threat as a runner than this year's quarterback, senior Craig Sundberg. "But Craig is a better touch passer," says Osborne, charitably. For his part, Sundberg says, "Turner is a more gifted athlete who molded himself into a winner on a winning team." But last Saturday in Pasadena, Sundberg got the job done.

?About junior Tom Rathman, who has taken over at fullback for Schellen, Osborne says, charitably, "Tom is a good player." Rathman says with traditional Nebraska modesty, "I'm just trying to pick up where Mark left off. He had more speed, but I might be a little better blocker. I don't know." Last Saturday in Pasadena, Rathman got the job done.

?"Speed," says Osborne, reflecting on what Fryar had that his replacement, senior Shane Swanson, doesn't have. "But Shane will block," says Osborne, charitably. And Swanson says, "Maybe I block a little better." Last Saturday in Pasadena, Swanson got the job done.

? Osborne says Steinkuhler was "bigger, faster and stronger" than senior Greg Orton. But Osborne adds, charitably, "Greg is a good player." Orton says, "I don't get compared with Steinkuhler because there is no comparison. I'm not as talented. But somebody has to fill in and do the best he can. So that's what I'm doing." Last Saturday in Pasadena, Orton got the job done.

Got the job done? Each, in fact, excelled. Smith carried 20 times for 123 yards before leaving the game in the second quarter with a sprained ankle. Sundberg completed 10 of 17 passes for 104 yards. With 11:20 to go in the second quarter, he ran a nifty option right from the UCLA four-yard line and scored, thanks to extraordinary line blocking and a deft cut up the middle. A two-point conversion made it 14-0. With 2:01 remaining in the first half, Rathman, running low, hard and plenty fast enough, drilled up the middle for three yards to put the Huskers ahead 21-0.

In the third quarter, after UCLA's John Lee kicked a 34-yard field goal that made him 10 for 10 for the season—the Bruins' very sick offense has gotten only two TDs in three games, the loss to Nebraska and wins over San Diego State (18-15) and Long Beach State (23-17)—it was Swanson's turn to shine. In his only carry of the day, he went 19 yards on a reverse to give the Cornhuskers a 28-3 lead. Orton threw the key block. Afterward, Milt Tenopir, the Huskers' offensive line coach, said, "I hate to brag on my guys, but...." A whole lot of bragging ensued.

Especially worthy of praise from Tenopir was senior center Mark Traynowicz, who has played so well this season he may challenge Pittsburgh's Bill Fralic for the nation's best-lineman award. "I don't know what it is about Nebraska players," says Traynowicz. "There's just more dedication than other places. And a lot of heart."

The Huskers' heart—and depth—was particularly apparent on their final two touchdowns. Second-team I-back Doug DuBose scored one, and third-team I-back Paul Miles got the other. DuBose raced 64 yards on a draw play early in the fourth quarter, despite slipping directly after he took the hand-off. Miles slammed—slammed!—off-tackle for four yards with 5:43 remaining.

On defense the Huskers may have been better than they were on offense. Because of the feeble UCLA attack, it was hard to tell if six pharmacology students and five flute players might not have contained the Bruins. Still, the Husker D seems much better than that of last season, when it gave up 16.7 points and 373 yards per game. UCLA ran for all of 41 yards—on 33 rushes—and passed for 165 yards, most of them after the issue was decided. Moreover, Nebraska was playing without its best defensive player, linebacker Mike Knox, who blew out a knee in the spring game and is sidelined for the season. Is Knox surprised the Huskers are so good again? "Naw," he says, "this is Nebraska."

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