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There's No Solace for Solich

October 20, 2002|Robyn Norwood

What should the name Bill Jennings mean to Frank Solich?

Jennings was the last Nebraska coach to lose to Oklahoma State.

In 1961.

The next year, Bob Devaney replaced Jennings as coach, and Nebraska hasn't had a losing season since.

Solich is almost a part of the landscape in Lincoln after 19 years as an assistant coach and the last five as head coach following Tom Osborne's retirement.

Solich played for the Cornhuskers from 1963-65, and was the first Nebraska back to rush for 200 yards in a game.

He has never been in a spot like this one.

Already unranked for the first time since 1981, Nebraska is 5-3 after a 24-21 loss to Oklahoma State with Texas A&M, Texas, Kansas, Kansas State and Colorado left to play.

Only Kansas looks like a sure victory.

These are dark days in Lincoln, as people wonder if Solich can survive, only one season removed from playing for the national title.

It's even harder to find anyone who thinks defensive coordinator Craig Bohl can.

In a side story, Solich also came under scrutiny last week for allowing quarterback Jammal Lord to start despite being ticketed for disturbing the peace at a party, a misdemeanor charge.

The truth is, fans are probably more upset that Lord, the replacement for Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch, is a run-oriented quarterback who hasn't proven an effective passing threat, running for 73 yards and passing for 110 in the loss to Oklahoma State.

In another distraction, disgruntled backup running back Thunder Collins left the team.

The famous Blackshirt defense is a big problem too, after allowing Tatum Bell to rush for 182 yards Saturday.

And this is a 3-4 Oklahoma State team that was coming off a 44-9 loss to Kansas State.

Saturday's victory was a goalpost-toppler for the Cowboys.

As Oklahoma State Coach Les Miles told reporters last week, 1961 was a long time ago.

"Let me think back," said Miles, who was 8 in 1961, told The Oklahoman. "I probably had a flat-top haircut and wore jeans and a corduroy shirt. In the fall of the year, I was probably in somebody's ditch playing army."

On Saturday, it was Nebraska that had to surrender.


Attention: Ignore This Team

Yes, North Carolina State is one of eight remaining unbeaten teams.

No, you do not have to take the 14th-ranked Wolfpack seriously.

Not after Saturday's 24-22 victory over Duke.

The Blue Devils, winless the last two seasons, are 2-6.

But with 16 seconds left, they scored on a 40-yard touchdown pass by quarterback Adam Smith, then recovered an on-side kick.

After three incomplete passes, Duke tried a 65-yard field-goal attempt that would have won the game.

Kicker Brent Garber's best was 56 yards, and he missed.

It wasn't as much of a longshot as it sounds.

Garber reportedly has made kicks of 71 yards in practice, and he made a 52-yarder by more than 10 yards earlier in the game.

"We went out there and the wind started blowing in my face," Garber said. "That's a tough one. I'm not sure with that kind of wind I could hit more than one out of 10 times."

He was a good 10 yards short.

But Duke made its point -- N.C. State, which still might go undefeated into its final game at Florida State, is no contender.


What a Rush

John Cappelletti, Curt Warner, D.J. Dozier, Ki-Jana Carter, Curtis Enis.

None of those big-name Penn State running backs did what Larry Johnson did Saturday against Northwestern.

His 257 yards in a 49-0 victory set the school rushing record.

"It was a heck of a day and he deserves it," quarterback Zack Mills said. "It's been a long time coming. He's been waiting around for four years and he deserves every bit of it."

Johnson is a home-grown product. The son of Penn State defensive line coach Larry Johnson Sr., he played at State College Area High and has waited for his turn to be the featured back.

Now he's featured in the record book.

"It means a lot," Johnson said. "It means a lot that all the guys who have come before me, guys I've been able to meet with, like Curt Warner, D.J. Dozier, Curtis Enis, Ki-Jana Carter and Kenny Watson, all those guys have always encouraged me in my college career. This kind of seems that it is dedicated to them, even though they didn't make the record. It's just, what you saw out there is a part of them."

Coach Joe Paterno expressed his teasing appreciation for Johnson, too.

"He's a very aggressive kind, very competitive," Paterno said. "I don't have any problem with Larry. He works like a dog on the practice field. He's a little moody sometimes, but so is my wife."


Quarterback Anonymous

Quick, who is Andrew Walter?

Time to get it fixed in your mind: He's the Arizona State quarterback who set the school passing record with 536 yards in the Sun Devils' 45-42 upset over No. 6 Oregon at the Ducks' Autzen Stadium.

Walter took over the starting job from Chad Christenson in the fourth game of the season, and already has three 400-plus passing yardage in five starts this season.

The sophomore is starting to stir memories of another No. 16 who played for the Sun Devils: Jake Plummer.

That's not to say Walter is widely recognized on campus yet.

"There's not much of a buzz," Walter told the Arizona Republic. "It's not as big a deal as I thought it would be."


Put Him In, Coach

Backups know they have to stay ready.

Quarterback Kyle Keating of Lehigh did his job -- even though he's the fourth-stringer.

Starter Chad Schwenk has a sprained knee. Backup Matt Shiels has a broken toe. Another backup, Kevin Weschler, already was out with an injury to his throwing hand.

So what do you know, Keating got the start.

The sophomore did fine, throwing touchdown passes of 36 and 15 yards as Div. I-AA Lehigh defeated Yale, 14-7.


Technical Difficulties

Kickoff before Princeton's 16-14 victory over Brown was delayed 23 minutes.

What gave?

Problems with the netting behind the goal posts at the east end of Princeton Stadium.



Avon Calling

West Virginia's Avon Cobourne joined four other Division I-A running backs with four 1,000-yard seasons. The list:

-- Robyn Norwood

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