Unlike two years ago, this wasn't a last quarter collapse, where Brad Smith ran and passed his way to a scoring barrage, he and his Tigers taking advantage of Husker mistakes.
This year it took two quarters.
The Huskers had for three weeks
now been considered that team that wouldn't die. They let Baylor get on the
board quickly, but came back. They let Texas Tech get out to a huge lead, but
came back. They did that against
"He dominated us," Callahan said of Smith, whose 246 yards rushing is the most ever given up by a Husker defense, surpassing the total set back in 1979 by Oklahoma running back Billy Sims.
Smith did dominate, but for a
time it looked like
With Smith collared for the
Smith once again took over.
"It's a double-edged sword," Callahan said of trying to stop Smith. "You try to stop him in the running game and he starts throwing it. You stop the throwing game and obviously, you open up the lanes inside."
"There's a fine balance to what you commit to numerically and obviously, they read us, no huddled us pretty effectively and they made the plays they needed to make and we didn't."
One of the plays was a 79-yard run for a touchdown, the longest of Smith's career and amongst the top ten in regard to the longest rushes the Huskers had ever given up in a game. It was also the run that moved Smith into second place all-time in NCAA history for quarterback rushing touchdowns.
That was in the first half, which the Huskers managed to stave off. And as defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove said, they were certain that in the second half they could do the same thing. "We didn't get into a rhythm early, that was obvious, but we started to feel real good after that," Cosgrove said.
"It felt good going into the half, like we had things under control."
While momentum seemed to be on
"That kind of broke our back a little bit," Cosgrove said. "We didn't play well after that."
The defense will take some of the lumps from \Smith's gaudy performance, but the offense certainly didn't help. "We had an opportunity to get back in it, but a turnover was very costly and additionally, we had an additional turnover that factored into their win," Coach Callahan said.
It was actually three turnovers the Huskers committed in the second half…………consecutively.
The first was an interception
The defense did managed to hold stiff, giving up only a field goal and the Huskers took control of the clock and committed mammoth mistakes number two, a fumble by sophomore receiver Terrence Nunn as he took a Zac Taylor, was seemingly headed for the end zone, but had the ball forced out by Missouri's Jason Simpson, the Tigers recovering the ball at the Missouri three yard line.
The Tigers 97 yard drive that followed that second turnover was significant in putting the Huskers against the wall, but it was the last turnover that put them inside of it. "When you are trying to come back, you can't make those kinds of mistakes," quarterback coach and offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said.
The Tigers went into capitalize,
ultimately running away with the game,
No matter what Husker defenders
said they would try to do,
"He played his butt off and he deserves the credit for the win," Middle linebacker Corey McKeon said of Brad Smith. "We tried getting him out of the game by hitting him as hard as we could, but he kept getting up and stayed with it."
McKeon finished second on the team in tackles 8.5 and was one of four Huskers to get sacks.
The loss deflates a Husker team
that despite the loss to Texas Tech,
was riding high on their ability to rebound. They weren't able to at
least in the second half against an equally resilient
The ghosts of last year still
haunt this team as questions about whether they can rebound in time for the
Junior defensive end Jay Moore agreed:
"We have to forget this one after we look at the film," he said. "That's the only way you move on. You just have to forget."
It was different, but much the same as it was two years ago, or at least, it had the same X-factor in play.
"He's a special player," defensive line coach John Blake said of Brad Smith. "We knew he was a weapon and dangerous and we could create contain and it's hard for one guy to tackle him."
The Huskers' record drops to 5-2,
2-2 in the Big 12.