Husker Football Outlook: Part III

By NU Athletic Communications
Ray Guy Award Kyle Larson returns for his third season as NU's punter.
Ray Guy Award Kyle Larson returns for his third season as NU's punter.
Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Lincoln -- Nebraska had one of the nation's top special teams units last season. Place-kicker Josh Brown was a four-year starter for the Huskers who finished his career as Nebraska's third-leading scorer and earned all-conference honors. DeJuan Groce tied an NCAA record with four punt return touchdowns, while John Garrison and Joe Chrisman provided solid duty at snapper and holder, respectively. Replacing those players will not be an easy task for special teams coordinator Jeff Jamrog, but the Huskers do return standout players at punter and kickoff returner.

Kyle Larson (6-0, 205) returns for his senior season, and his third as the Huskers? starting punter. Larson was a second-team All-Big 12 pick and a Ray Guy semifinalist in 2002, when he averaged 43.2 yards per punt. He buried the opposition inside the 20-yard line 23 times last season and had at least one punt of 45 yards or more in all but one game. Larson has a career punting average of 42.9 yards per attempt.

Larson has the ability to change and control field position and helped Nebraska to a six-yard advantage in average starting field position last season. Larson is primed to contend for bigger honors this season. Sophomore Sam Koch (6-1, 230) will back up Larson.

The kickoff return duties are in the capable hands of senior Josh Davis (5-11, 205), who has held the position for the past two seasons. A year ago, Davis set Nebraska records for kickoff return attempts and single-game, season and career kickoff return yardage. Davis is a hard runner who had five games last season with 100 or more yards in returns.

Josh Davis holds NU single-season and career kickoff return marks,

Brown?s departure to the NFL leaves junior Sandro DeAngelis (5-8, 190) in line to take over the place-kicking chores. In 2001, DeAngelis split time with Brown and made 2-of-3 field goals on the season. He missed most of last season with a stress fracture in his foot. Senior Dale Endorf (6-0, 210) will continue to push DeAngelis for the starting job in the fall. Endorf filled in admirably for Brown against Colorado last season, hitting a pair of field goals and his only extra-point attempt.

The job of replacing Groce as punt returner will not be easy. Davis and fellow running back Cory Ross figure to get the first look at handling the duty. Both players have limited work in that role, but showed progress during spring practice. Nebraska also must find a new holder and deep snapper during fall practice.

2003 Schedule to Provide Huskers with Difficult Challenge
Nebraska?s goal of returning to the elite in both the Big 12 Conference and nationally will be tested by a difficult 2003 slate. The Huskers will face off against seven teams that played in bowl games last fall, including five Big 12 opponents.

The Huskers begin the season with a rare conference opener against upstart Oklahoma State on Aug. 30 at Memorial Stadium. The Cowboys defeated Nebraska last season, ending NU?s 36-game unbeaten streak in the series. The game marks the first time NU has opened the season against a conference opponent since 1995.

Nebraska?s non-conference schedule is highlighted by a visit from Penn State and a trip to Southern Mississippi for an ESPN Thursday night game. The Penn State game will be televised by ABC, and the Huskers look to avenge a 40-7 loss in Happy Valley last season. The move of the Southern Miss contest to Sept. 25 forced the Huskers to replace San Jose State (Sept. 27) on their schedule. Instead, Troy State will visit Lincoln for the third straight year (Oct. 4), while Utah State will make a trip to Nebraska for the second straight year (Sept. 6).

After the early Big 12 game, Nebraska will resume conference play on Oct. 11 at Missouri. The Huskers also play host to league foes Texas A&M (Oct. 18), Iowa State (Oct. 25) and Kansas State (Nov. 15). Nebraska will take to the road late in the season for games at Texas (Nov. 1) and Kansas (Nov. 8) and closes the regular season with a trip to Colorado on the Friday after Thanksgiving (Nov. 28). With seven home games in 2003, Nebraska expects to extend its NCAA-record sellout streak to 262 games by the close of the season.

Dates to Remember

Tueday, Aug. 5?105-man roster reports to camp
Wednesday, Aug. 6? First practice
Sunday, Aug. 10?First practice in full gear
Monday, Aug. 11?First Two-a-Day Practice
Friday, Aug. 22?Remainder of squad reports
Saturday, Aug. 23?Public Photo Day, 1-2:30 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 25?First day of classes
Saturday, Aug. 30?First game vs. Oklahoma State, 2:30 p.m.

Husker Nation to Converge on Lincoln on Aug. 30
Nebraska will begin its 114th season of collegiate football with a grand celebration of its great football past with a reunion of all former letterwinners for the season opener against Oklahoma State. The Husker Nation Celebration could very well be the largest former player reunion in college football history with nearly 1,400 living former letterwinners invited to return to Lincoln.

Athletic Director Steve Pederson made the reunion one of his first projects when he took the reins of the Husker athletic department in January. Nebraska officials received several hundred RSVPs for the event by the first of July and expect many more to attend the event. All former players in attendance will receive a game jersey with their name inscribed on the back. In addition, all of the former players will be on the field to welcome the 2003 Huskers into Memorial Stadium to begin the season against Oklahoma State on ABC.

Head Coach Frank Solich
Coach Frank Solich enters his sixth season on the Husker sideline and owns a 49-16 school and career record. Solich's 49 wins place him in a tie for third place on the all-time Division I list for wins in the first five seasons as head coach. His .754 winning percentage is sixth among all active Division I-A coaches with at least five years of experience.

Solich was named Nebraska?s 26th head coach on Dec. 10, 1997, after serving as an NU assistant for 19 years. He played fullback for Hall of Fame Coach Bob Devaney, lettering in 1963-64-65.

Solich became just the third first-year Nebraska head coach to record nine wins in his first season at the helm, joining a pair of Hall of Fame Coaches?Tom Osborne (9-2-1 in 1973) and Bob Devaney (9-2 in 1962). Solich posted a 9-4 record in his first season, and posted the best record of any Husker second-year coach (12-1) in 1999, leading NU to a Big 12 championship and No. 2 (coaches poll) and No. 3 (AP poll) final national rankings.

The Nebraska graduate has set NU records for most wins after two, three, four and five years as head coach, bettering Devaney and Osborne. Solich was named the 1999 Big 12 Coach of the Year by his league peers and the AP after winning the league championship, and was named coach of the year by the conference coaches a second time in 2001.

Solich has continued the Husker winning tradition and that is evident in his coaching staff. Including Solich, six of Nebraska's 10 full-time coaches played college ball at Nebraska. Solich is one of 19 current Division I-A football coaches who played and coach for their alma mater. Solich earned his bachelor?s and master?s degrees from NU in 1966 and 1972, respectively.

Fresh Faces on the Sideline for Huskers
Solich added some new faces to his coaching staff for the upcoming season. Six new coaches are on the NU staff, including three assistants on each side of the ball, led by new offensive and defensive coordinators.

Barney Cotton heads the Husker offense, taking the reins from Solich who served as his own offensive coordinator for each of his first five seasons as head coach. Cotton comes to Nebraska after six seasons in the same position on the New Mexico State coaching staff.

Joining Cotton on offense is new running backs coach and passing game coordinator Tim Albin, who has been with the Husker program as a graduate assistant for the past three seasons. Albin previously served for three seasons (1997-99) as the head coach at Northwestern Oklahoma State. Scott Downing will tutor the Nebraska tight ends, kickers and punters, and serve as recruiting coordinator. Downing was on the Purdue coaching staff for the previous six seasons, where he served as assistant head coach and running backs coach.

Former Green Bay Packer linebackers coach Bo Pelini was hired as Nebraska's new defensive coordinator. Pelini has nine years of experience as an assistant in the National Football League with previous stints at San Francisco and New England. He was also a graduate assistant at the University of Iowa in 1990.

Pelini heads a defensive staff that includes new linebackers coach Jimmy Williams, a former Husker All-American at defensive end. Williams came to Nebraska after one season as an assistant coach at Toledo. The Husker defensive backs are coached by Marvin Sanders, who played at Nebraska in the late 1980s. Sanders spent the previous two seasons on the Colorado State coaching staff.

The newcomers join assistants Ron Brown (17th year), Turner Gill (12th year) and Jeff Jamrog (4th year). Brown continues to coach Nebraska's wide receivers. Gill remains the Huskers' quarterbacks coach and also added the title of assistant head coach. Jamrog will again coach the Husker defensive tackles, but will also tutor the defensive ends and serve as Nebraska's special teams coordinator.

Dave Gillespie, who previously coached NU's running backs, has taken over duties as assistant A.D. for football. Former Millard West High School head coach Dan McLaughlin has joined the NU staff as a graduate assistant on offense. Pelini?s brother, Carl, is Nebraska?s new defensive graduate assistant after coaching in the Ohio prep ranks.

Unprecedented Winning Tradition Continues
Nebraska, the nation's third-winningest program all time (fourth by percentage), boasts a 771-308-40 record in 1,119 games (.707). In the last 34 years, NU is tops, posting a record of 337-67-5 for an .830 winning percentage (409 games), an average of nearly 10 wins per year.

NU has won 10-or-more games 22 times in the Devaney/Osborne/Solich eras (since 1962), went undefeated and untied through the regular season seven times, played in 13 national title games (for at least one of the teams) and won the championship five times. Since the first Nebraska season in 1890, Husker teams have won 11 or more games 12 times, including seven of the last 10 years. NU has won 12 or more games seven times, and 13 games three times (1971, 1994 and 1997).

Nebraska (702), Michigan (705), Alabama (728) and Notre Dame (736) were the only four programs to win 700 games in the 1900s. NU became the first Division I team to win 100 or more games in consecutive decades, ranking first in the 1980s (103-20-0, .837) and second in the 1990s (108-16-1, .890) and posted a nation?s best 309-56-5 record in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

Nebraska Tops Elite Programs in Consistency
Nebraska ranks third among Division I-A schools in all-time football victories with 771 wins. The Huskers have the nation?s best record since 1962, posting a 405-85-5 record in the last 41 seasons. In that period, Nebraska has easily been the most steady, consistent program in the nation. That is evident when comparing the Huskers? record to the other nine programs among the top 10 in all-time victories.

The Huskers have had just three seasons (including 2002) since 1962 with eight or fewer victories. Eight of the other nine schools in the top 10 have had at least 15 seasons with eight or fewer wins in that span. Nebraska?s last losing season occurred in 1961. Michigan has not had a losing record since 1967, but the other eight schools on the all-time top 10 wins list have all had losing seasons since 1988, including six programs with losing campaigns in the past six seasons.

Nebraska hopes to find itself back in the national rankings and in contention for Big 12 and national honors in 2003. The Huskers need look no further than the top 10 winningest programs for direction. Although each has experienced a downturn of some degree, the group had a strong season in 2002. Eight of the 10 teams won at least nine games and ranked in the top 16 in the final Associated Press poll.

Huskers To Bid for NCAA-Record 35th Consecutive Bowl Appearance in 2003 Campaign
Nebraska?s visit to the 2002 Mainstay Independence Bowl marked the Huskers? 34th consecutive bowl game, the nation's longest current consecutive streak and an all-time NCAA record. Michigan?s streak of consecutive bowl appearances reached 28 last year, the second-longest streak in NCAA history. Nebraska's 41 overall bowl appearances is tied for fourth best with USC, trailing Alabama's 51, Tennessee?s 43, and Texas? 42.

Nebraska played the first of its 41 bowls in the Rose Bowl, when No. 7 Nebraska lost to No. 2 Stanford, 21-13, following the 1940 season. NU's 34 consecutive bowls began with a 45-6 win over Georgia in the 1969 Sun Bowl. The Huskers are 20-21 all-time in bowl games, 2-3 under Head Coach Frank Solich. The Huskers made 17 straight January bowl appearances from 1981 to 1997, five more than the next longest streak.

NU Owns 41 Consecutive Winning Regular Seasons
Nebraska saw its streak of 40 consecutive winning seasons end with last year?s 7-7 record, capped by a 27-23 loss to Ole Miss in the Independence Bowl. Nebraska?s streak of 40 consecutive winning seasons fell two years short of Notre Dame?s NCAA record run of 42 straight winning campaigns from 1889 to 1932.

The Huskers still boast 41 consecutive winning regular seasons and 41 straight years with a .500 or better finish. Nebraska?s 41 straight non-losing seasons is third all-time in NCAA Division I-A, behind Penn State?s 49 (1939-87) and Notre Dame's 42 (1889-1932). Since Nebraska?s 41-year .500 or better streak began, the Huskers have averaged nearly 10 wins per season with a 405-85-5 record (.832).

Remarkable Nine-Win Streak Comes to an End
Nebraska?s amazing run of nine-win seasons came to an end at 33 consecutive years in 2002. The streak is even more remarkable when considering that Texas and Miami now share the lead for most consecutive nine-win seasons with five apiece. Florida had been second on the list to Nebraska, but the Gators? streak came to an end at 12 seasons last fall.

The 33-year nine-win streak becomes even more impressive when comparing it to the best stretches among other college football powers. Texas? current run of five consecutive nine-win seasons is the longest in its proud history. Miami reeled off 10 straight nine-win campaigns spanning the 1980s and 1990s and Florida State had a 14-year streak that ended in 2000. However, among a group of other long-time powers, including Notre Dame, Penn State, Oklahoma, Michigan and Ohio State, the longest streak of nine-win seasons is eight years by both Oklahoma and Ohio State.

Heading into the 2003 season, Nebraska has won nine or more games in 38 of the past 41 seasons. Only back-to-back 6-4 records in 1967 and 1968, and last season?s 7-7 mark, have fallen short of the nine-win plateau.

Nebraska Looks to Get Back on Winning Track In 2003 Opener Against Oklahoma State
Nebraska enters the 2003 season with three straight losses, a rarity for the nation?s most successful program over the last four decades. Before losing its last three games to end the 2002 season, Nebraska had not suffered a three-game losing skid since dropping four straight games in the middle of the 1961 campaign.

Nebraska lost consecutive games twice in 2002, the first time it suffered a pair of consecutive losses in the same season since 1967. Before last season, Nebraska had not lost back-to-back regular-season games since 1976. The Huskers will look to avoid a four-game losing skid in the season opener against Oklahoma State on Aug. 30.

The odds are on Nebraska?s side against the Cowboys based on the Huskers? season-opening success. Nebraska has won its last 17 season openers since a 17-13 setback at the hands of Florida State to open the 1985 season, and won each of those games by at least 13 points. In fact, Nebraska has won 38 of 41 home openers since Bob Devaney took over the Husker program in 1962.

Huskers to Jump Right Into Big 12 Action
Nebraska and Oklahoma State waste no time getting the Big 12 Conference season underway. The two teams will meet in their season openers on Aug. 30 in Lincoln. The game will mark the first time the Huskers have opened the season against a conference opponent since a 64-21 victory over Oklahoma State in Stillwater to open the 1995 Big Eight slate.

Other than the 1995 NU-OSU meeting, the Huskers have not opened the season against a league opponent since facing Iowa State in Lincoln to begin 1948. The last time Nebraska faced a conference opponent in its home opener was a 39-14 victory over Iowa State in 1954.

10 Players Enter 2003 Season With Degree in Hand
Nearly one-third of the Huskers? senior class has already completed their undergraduate education heading into the 2003 season. Ten of the 33 players listed as seniors on Nebraska?s 2003 roster will have received their bachelor?s degrees by the end of NU?s summer session. Included in that group is senior nose tackle Patrick Kabongo who played his junior season with his degree after graduating in three years in August of 2002. In addition to the 10 players who already have their degrees, 11 more players are on track to earn their degrees after the fall semester.

Huskers Continue to Lead Nation in Academic Honors
Nebraska continues to lead the nation in Verizon/CoSIDA Academic All-Americans for all sports and all teams with 203; in first-team winners for all sports with 107; and also leads the nation in football academic honor winners with 59 first-team certificates and 76 football all-teams certificates. The 203 overall honorees is 54 better than second-place Notre Dame, while the 59 football honorees is 21 more than second-place Notre Dame's 38.

Last season, Nebraska had four players named to the Verizon/CoSIDA Academic All-District VII first team?fullback Judd Davies, rush end Chris Kelsay, cornerback Pat Ricketts and tight end Kyle Ringenberg. Davies and Ricketts each posted a perfect 4.0 grade-point average during the fall 2002 semester. Seven other Huskers were second-team all-district selections, led by linebacker Chad Sievers, who owns a 4.0 cumulative grade-point average.

The Husker football program also leads the nation with nine NCAA Today's Top Eight Award winners, 30 NCAA postgraduate scholarship winners and 20 National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame Scholar-Athletes, including Kelsay last season.

NU Places 24 Players on Big 12 Academic Teams
Nebraska regularly sets the pace on academic All-Big 12 teams. Last season, Nebraska had 24 players named to the Academic All-Big 12 team last fall, including 18 first-team selections. A pair of Husker senior rush ends?Demoine Adams and Chris Kelsay?were honored for the fourth time, while FB Judd Davies, WB Troy Hassebroek, RE Trevor Johnson, CB Pat Ricketts and rover Aaron Terpening were honored for the third time. Davies, Johnson and Ricketts will each have an opportunity to join the four-time honorees this fall.

The Huskers have nine returning first-team academic all-league picks for 2003, including Davies, Johnson, Ricketts, SS Philip Bland, WLB Chad Buller, TE Phil Peetz, MLB Barrett Ruud, SS Shane Siegel and LB Chad Sievers. Nose tackle Ryon Bingham, OT Mike Erickson, FB Steve Kriewald and P Kyle Larson return after earning second-team honors.

Nebraska had 75 players named to the Big 12 Commissioner?s Spring Academic Honor Roll released in mid-June. The honor roll recognizes all Big 12 student-athletes who earned a 3.0 grade-point average or higher during the spring semester. Six current Huskers posted a perfect 4.0 grade-point average in the spring including defensive back Kevin Guse, center Kurt Mann, Peetz, Siegel, Sievers and fullback Dane Todd.

The Huskers had 71 football players named to the Fall Honor Roll. Eight players on the 2003 roster had perfect 4.0 fall semesters, including Davies, Mann, Ricketts, Sievers, Todd, PK Sandro DeAngelis, CB Kellen Huston and RE Nathan Krug.

Huskers Top Big 12 in Graduation Rates
Nebraska has led the Big 12 in four of the past five years in graduation rates (all except 2000). Nebraska?s four-class (1990-91 to 1993-94) graduation rate was 57 percent. That figure is higher than the national average for all students (56 percent) and football student-athletes (50 percent). Nebraska?s student-athlete graduation rate for all sports, which includes only those students who completed their eligibility at NU, is an outstanding 90 percent (national average is 81 percent). Nebraska was one of nine schools honored by the American Football Coaches Association, when the school received the 2002 Academic Achievement Award in late June. Nebraska was recognized for graduating 90 percent or more of its football student-athletes from the freshman class of 1996-97. Since Coach Solich?s first year at the helm in 1998, 109 of his 122 seniors have earned their degree, including 25 of 29 last season. Ten members of this year?s senior class have already earned their degree with 11 more set to pick up their diplomas in December.

NU First to Win 100 Games in Back-to-Back Decades
Nebraska recorded its 100th win of the 1990s with a 40-10 win over Missouri in Columbia on Sept. 25, 1999, and finished with a 108-16-1 mark in the decade (.868, second behind Florida State). Nebraska is the first Division I program to win 100-plus games in consecutive decades, as NU won 103 games to 20 losses in the 1980s. The only other team to post 100-plus wins in the 1980s was Brigham Young with 102 wins and 26 losses. Oklahoma (102-13-3) and Alabama (103-16-1) posted 100-plus wins in the 1970s, while Nebraska came close to achieving the mark in three consecutive decades, as NU won 98 games in the 1970s. Florida State finished the 1990s with a 109-13-1 record (.890, first), but had just 87 wins in the 1980s.

By decade, the Huskers were 75-30-1 in the 1960s (.712), 98-20-4 in the 1970s (.820, fifth nationally), 103-20-0 in the 1980s (.837, first), 108-16-1 in the 1990s (second) and are 28-11 in this decade. Nebraska's 1990s record was aided by an unprecedented 60-3 five-year run from 1993 to 1997. Nebraska owns the best record over the past three-plus decades with a 337-67-5 record, including an NCAA-best 309-56-5 record (.842) from 1960 to 1999. The Huskers have not lost more than 20 games in any of the last three decades.

Huskers Among Leaders in AP National Titles
Notre Dame leads the nation by winning eight Associated Press national titles since 1936, with Oklahoma (7), Alabama (6), Miami (5), Nebraska (4) and Minnesota (4) rounding out the top five. While the Huskers were awarded the national title by the coaches in 1997, NU finished second to Michigan in the Associated Press poll. In 1970, NU was awarded the AP national title, but not the coaches (Texas was first, Ohio State second and NU third) as the final poll was released before the bowl games were played. In the coaches poll (since 1950), Nebraska is tied for third with USC and Miami with four titles, behind Alabama and Oklahoma with six apiece.

NU Leads Conference in Crowns
Nebraska and Oklahoma are the only teams to capture two Big 12 titles in the first seven years of the Big 12 Conference. The Huskers won titles in 1997 and 1999, and appeared in the league title game in 1996, one of only two teams to make three appearances in the Big 12 Championship Game.

In the last 10 years, Nebraska has won five conference crowns (three Big Eight, two Big 12). Nebraska has won 43 football conference championships overall, including eight under Coach Bob Devaney, 13 under Coach Tom Osborne and one under Coach Solich. Oklahoma has won 35 conference championships.

All-Americans Call Nebraska Home
DeJuan Groce became the latest player to add his name to Nebraska?s prestigious list of All-Americans in 2002. Groce was named a first-team All-American as a kick returner by the American Football Coaches Association. Groce tied an NCAA record by returning four punts for touchdowns last season, including two against Troy State.

Groce?s All-America selection added to Nebraska?s long list of All-Americans, beginning with tackle Vic Halligan in 1914. The Huskers have had at least one All-American in all but two (1991, 1998) of the past 33 years, and Head Coach Frank Solich has had nine All-Americans in his first five seasons. Overall, Nebraska has seen 89 different players earn first-team All-America honors from at least one recognized source with 14 winning double honors for a total of 103 first-team awards. Nebraska had its most All-Americans in one season when six Huskers earned first-team honors in the 1971 national championship campaign. The offensive line is Nebraska?s most honored position, with 26 different players earning 31 first-team All-America certificates.

Record-Setting AP Poll Run Ends
Nebraska?s loss at Iowa State in late September last season dropped the Huskers out of the Associated Press poll, ending its AP poll record at 348 consecutive weeks (every weekly AP poll since Oct. 17, 1981, to Sept. 22, 2002).

Nebraska enters the 2003 season having been ranked in 522 of the last 536 AP polls since 1969. Nebraska missed one week in 1977, two weeks in 1981 and the final 11 polls of the 2002 season.

Nebraska?s nation-leading streak of consecutive weeks in the AP top 10 ended at 54 with last year?s loss at Penn State, but the Huskers have been ranked in the top 10 for 151 of the last 170 weeks, beginning with the 1993 preseason poll. Nebraska spent 96 straight weeks in the top 10 from 1993 to 1998.

The Huskers were ranked among the top 10 in the 2002 preseason poll, which marked the 27th time in the last 30 years that NU opened the season in the top 10. The 2002 season marked the 33rd straight AP preseason poll in which Nebraska was ranked.

Nebraska finish unranked last season, marking the first time since 1968 that Nebraska was not ranked in the final AP poll of the season. The Huskers have finished in the top 10 in the final AP poll 30 times since the poll?s inception in 1936, including 24 times since 1970. Nebraska has been among the top 10 in the final AP poll eight of the last 10 years (all except 1998 and 2002).

Nebraska is the nation's fifth-most successful program based on AP rankings since the poll began, scoring 547 points, and NU was the only team to be ranked in every poll of the 1990s.

NCAA Record 255 Consecutive Sellouts
Nebraska saw the end of some incredible streaks in 2002, but one streak that is in no danger of ending is the NCAA record 255 consecutive sellouts at Memorial Stadium. The sellout streak dates back to Hall of Fame Coach Bob Devaney's first year in 1962 (vs. Missouri on Nov. 3). Notre Dame is second in all-time consecutive sellouts with 167, 88 fewer than Nebraska.

The Huskers are 227-28 during the 255 sellouts (50-9 under Devaney, 145-16 under Osborne, 32-3 under Solich). The mark includes a 37-20 record against ranked teams. Nebraska is 5-0 in the five milestone sellouts during that period (50th, 100th, 150th, 200th and 250th sellouts), including a 24-7 win over No. 2 Colorado on Oct. 29, 1994 (No. 200) and a 44-13 victory over Utah State on Sept. 7, 2002 (No. 250).

Huskers Enjoy Record-Setting Year at the Turnstiles
The 2002 season was a landmark season for the Nebraska football team at the ticket counter. For the first time in school history, more than a million fans saw a Nebraska football team during the course of a season. In Nebraska?s 14-game schedule, 1,009,444 fans saw the Huskers in person, an average of 72,103 per game.

Nebraska played before the largest crowd in school history when 110,753 fans packed into Penn State?s Beaver Stadium on Sept. 14 to watch the Nittany Lions defeat Nebraska. The Huskers also set a Memorial Stadium record when 78,268 fans were in attendance at the Nov. 2 Big 12 showdown with Texas.

Memorial Stadium Magic
Nebraska?s record home sellout streak is testament to the Huskers playing in front of the nation?s best college football fans. On the field, Nebraska has rewarded the loyalty of the Husker Nation with incredible success at Memorial Stadium through the years.

Nebraska had a nation-leading 26-game home winning streak end last season with a November loss to Texas. The loss ended the third-longest home winning streak in school history and Nebraska?s third home win streak of 20 games or more since 1980, including a school-record 47-game home winning streak from 1991 to 1998.

The Huskers finished 6-2 at home last season and have won at least six home games each of the past 16 seasons. Nebraska is 95-5 at home the last 14 years, losing to two teams that went on to win a share of the national championship (Colorado in 1990 and Washington in 1991), to Texas in 1998 and 2002 and to Colorado in 2002.

The Huskers are 462-124-20 (.779, 606 games, 113 years) in Lincoln, 337-101-13 (.762, 451 games, 80 years) in Memorial Stadium (since 1923) and 32-3 at home under Coach Solich. The 2002 season marked the first time Nebraska has lost two home games in a season since 1980. Nebraska is 139-12 at Memorial Stadium since 1981, with eight of those losses coming against teams that finished in the top six in the final AP poll. Since 1986 (16 years), NU is 106-7 in Lincoln, with losses to Colorado (twice), Washington, Oklahoma (twice) and Texas (twice).

Nebraska has not been shut out at home since a 12-0 loss to Kansas State in 1968 (221 games). NU has posted 40 unbeaten and untied home seasons. Husker faithful set a new attendance record in Memorial Stadium last year against Texas with 78,268 fans.

Nebraska Owns 15 NCAA Rushing Crowns
The Huskers will strive for more offensive balance this season and look to become more efficient through the air. However, it is unlikely that anyone will confuse Nebraska with the BYU offense of the 1980s.

Nebraska has become known for a dominant running game and has the statistics and history to back it. The Huskers have led the nation in rushing 15 times in school history, most recently winning back-to-back rushing crowns in 2000 and 2001. Nebraska has won the rushing title seven times in the last 11 years and collected 13 of the last 23 titles. Since 1978, Nebraska has ranked in the top six in rushing average every year and has averaged 300 or more yards rushing per game in all but five of the last 26 years (1993, 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2002).

Last season Nebraska finished the season averaging 268.7 yards per game on the ground. The Huskers? rushing average led the Big 12 Conference and ranked fourth nationally. Nebraska averaged just less than 300 yards rushing per game over its final nine contests.

More Husker Rushing Numbers

  • Nebraska is 192-7-0 in the last 30 years when rushing for 300 or more yards in a game, most recently 352 vs. Kansas in 2002.
  • The Huskers had won 110 straight when rushing for 300-plus yards before a 62-36 loss at Colorado in 2001. Last season Nebraska lost to Texas 27-24 despite rushing for 320 yards.
  • Nebraska is 96-0 since 1973 when rushing for 400 or more yards, most recently rushing for 444 yards against McNeese State.
  • The Huskers have had 374 100-yard rushing performances all time (61 under Coach Solich, most recently David Horne, 122, and Dahrran Diedrick, 107, vs. Kansas), including 58 games in which two or more Huskers rushed for 100 yards (most recently vs. Kansas).
  • Four Huskers cracked the century mark against Baylor on Oct. 13, 2001. (Collins, Diedrick, Crouch, Davies)
  • Before the Baylor contest in 2001, NU had three rushers top the 100-yard mark in a game twice in school history?Kansas, 2000 (Dan Alexander, Correll Buckhalter and Eric Crouch) and Arizona State, 1988 (Ken Clark, Steve Taylor and Terry Rodgers).
  • Jammal Lord?s 234-yard effort vs. Texas last season (NU quarterback record) was NU?s 32nd all-time 200-yard performance.
  • Among current Huskers, Lord has five 100-yard games, all last year, I-back David Horne had three 100-yard outings as a true freshman last season and fullback Judd Davies topped 100 yards at Baylor in 2001.
  • Nebraska is 27-2 under Solich when the team rushes for 300 or more yards; 11-0 when rushing for 400 or more and 2-0 when rushing for 500 or more.
  • Solich is 33-9 when a Husker rushes for at least 100 yards, and 8-10 when an opponent has a 100-yard rusher (most recently 137 yards by Colorado?s Brian Calhoun).
  • NU has lost its last seven games when allowing a 100-yard rusher.
  • Kansas State (97 yards) and Iowa State (81 yards) limited Nebraska to less than 100 yards rushing in 2002. The Huskers have been held to less than 100 yards on the ground just three times under Frank Solich (also Oklahoma State in 1998).
  • Nebraska rushed for an NCAA and school-bowl-record 524 yards vs. Florida in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl on a school-bowl-record 68 attempts with a school-bowl-record six rushing touchdowns. NU also had six rushing touchdowns in the 1998 Orange Bowl vs. Tennessee.

Nebraska A Regular Supplier to NFL
Four Nebraska players were selected in the 2003 NFL Draft in April. Defensive end Chris Kelsay went to the Buffalo Bills in the second round, marking the 13th straight year the Huskers have had at least one player selected in the draft?s first two rounds. Cornerback DeJuan Groce was selected by the Rams in the fourth round. The Huskers had a pair of players selected in the seventh round, with place-kicker Josh Brown going to the Seattle Seahawks and linebacker Scott Shanle being selected by the St. Louis Rams.

In 2002, Nebraska had 45 players in NFL training camps and 30 of those players were active on NFL opening day rosters. Both figures topped the Big 12 Conference, and the Huskers? opening day number ranked eighth among all schools nationwide.

Walk-ons Remain Critical Part of Husker Success
Nebraska has long been recognized as having the top walk-on program in college football. The tradition continues with four Huskers who began their collegiate careers as walk-on student-athletes listed atop Nebraska?s depth chart heading into fall camp.

Senior center Josh Sewell, a Lincoln native, began his career at Indiana State and joined the Huskers as a walk-on in 2000. Junior wide receiver Jack O?Holleran has seen limited playing time in his first two seasons, but moved to No. 1 at "Z" receiver with an outstanding spring. Cornerback Pat Ricketts has been a steady contributor throughout his NU career and enters fall camp No. 1 at right cornerback with Lornell McPherson. Kyle Larson is the latest in a run of standout punters who began their NU careers as walk-ons. The 2002 Ray Guy Award semifinalist followed Mike Stigge, Jesse Kosch, Bill Lafleur and Dan Hadenfeldt as NU?s starting punter.

Eighteen of the 68 players (26 percent) listed among the top three units on NU?s preseason depth chart began their Husker careers as walk-ons.

Huskers Come From Near and Far
Nebraska has a great history of attracting the top in-state high school talent to Lincoln. However, with a population base of just 1.7 million people, Nebraska has had to look across the United States and beyond for recruits. The 2003 roster is no different.

Seventy-nine of 150 players (53 percent) on Nebraska?s 2003 roster call the Cornhusker State home. Omaha leads the way with 18 players on this year?s roster, with 13 players from Lincoln staying within the city limits to play for Nebraska.

Nebraska is just one of 25 states represented on the 2003 roster. Texas is home to 15 Huskers, including six in the 2003 scholarship class. Colorado (9) and California (5) are just behind. From the international ranks, Nebraska has a pair of players from Canada (Sandro DeAngelis and Patrick Kabongo) and one from Germany (Isaiah Fluellen). In addition, sophomore defensive tackle Seppo Evwaraye is a native of Finland who was an exchange student in Laurel, Neb.

Nebraska a Long-Time Television Favorite
Nebraska boasts one of the nation?s most attractive schedules in 2003 with seven bowl teams on the slate. That type of competition and Nebraska?s name recognition across the country will once again make it a favorite of television networks this fall.

The Huskers? already have five games scheduled for television in 2003, including each of their first four games. Other games will be picked up as the season progresses, with TV networks making their selections between six and 12 days before game time.

Nebraska?s Scheduled TV Appearances for 2003

  • Aug. 30 vs. Oklahoma State, ABC, 2:30 p.m. (National)
  • Sept. 6 vs. Utah State, Fox Sports Net, 11:30 a.m. (Regional)
  • Sept. 13 vs. Penn State, ABC, 7 p.m. (Regional)
  • Sept. 25 at Southern Mississippi, ESPN, 6:30 p.m. (National)
  • Nov. 28 at Colorado, ABC, 11 a.m. (National)

Last season, Nebraska continued its trend of regular television appearances with 10 of 14 games on the tube. Beginning with its first TV appearance against Oregon in September of 1953, Nebraska has been on television 211 times in the past half-century, including at least 10 appearances in each of Frank Solich?s five seasons as head coach.

Nebraska owns an all-time record of 144-66-1 all time on television, including 38-16 under Solich.

  • On ABC?Nebraska is 72-31 all-time on ABC and has won 43 of its last 54 ABC telecasts.
  • On Fox Sports Net?Nebraska is 20-4 on Fox Sports Net. The network began televising Big 12 Conference games in 1996.
  • On ESPN?Nebraska is 22-5-1 on ESPN, 2-2 under Coach Solich.
  • On TBS?The Huskers are 2-0 on TBS, defeating Illinois 59-14 in 1985, and coming from behind to win at Texas A&M, 38-31, last season. TBS began broadcasting Big 12 games last season.

We are Family
Family is one of the first things that come to mind in the Nebraska football program. It starts at the top, as head coach Frank Solich and five of his assistants played football at Nebraska. From there it includes a number of father-son and brother combinations who have worn the scarlet and cream. There are several such family connections on the 2003 roster.

The brother combination list includes: FS Dan (2000-present) and LB Jamie Burrow (1997-2001); CB Cole (2002-present) and SE Brandon Biodrowski (2001-present); DB Steve (2003-present) and CB Keyuo Craver (1998-2001); WB Adam (2001-present) and WB Troy Hassebroek (1998-2002); LB Adam (2001-present) and DB Matt Ickes (1998-2001); LBs Barrett (2001-present) and Bo Ruud (2003-present); CB Andrew (2002-present) and SLB Scott Shanle (1998-2002); SS Shane (2001-present) and FB Scott Siegel (2003-present); and DE Tyler (2000-present) and DE Travis Toline (1995-1998). The Huskers welcomed the first set of scholarship twins in the program?s history in 2001 in sophomores Josh (FS) and Daniel Bullocks (SS).

Second generation Huskers include the Burrows (father Jim played in 1974-75 and was a graduate assistant for NU); senior IB Josh Davis (father Tony played in 1973-75); QB Brett Lindstrom (father Dan played in 1978-80); LBs Bo and Barrett Ruud (father Tom played in 1972-74 and Ruud?s great-grandfather Clarence Swanson played for NU from 1918 to 1921 and is a member of the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame); DE Trevor Johnson (father Robert wrestled for NU in 1973-76) and SS Shane and FB Scott Siegel (father Robert played basketball for NU in 1974-77).

Nebraska defensive coordinator Bo Pelini will oversee a defensive staff that includes his older brother, Carl, a graduate assistant coach for the Huskers.

This season, Nebraska will be without three names on its roster who have been fixtures for more than a decade. The 2003 season marks the first time since 1989 that the Huskers have not had a player named Zatechka, Kelsay or Wistrom on its roster. The three brother combinations?Rob and Jon Zatechka (Lincoln, Neb.); Grant and Tracey Wistrom (Webb City, Mo.) and Chad and Chris Kelsay (Auburn, Neb.) earned a combined...

  • Two first-team All-America awards
  • Four first-team all-conference honors
  • Six first-team academic All-America certificates
  • Three second-team academic All-America certificates
  • 19 first-team academic All-Big 12 selections
  • $89,000 in post-graduate scholarships

Getting to the Points
Nebraska has never had difficulty putting points on the scoreboard. Last season, the Huskers averaged 27.4 points per game, marking the first time since 1978 Nebraska did not average at least 30 points.

The Huskers have a long history of ranking among the nation?s leaders in scoring offense and have posted some amazing offensive numbers.

  • NU has averaged more than 35 points a game 15 times in the last 17 years.
  • NU has averaged 40 or more points eight times since 1982, including four of the last eight seasons.
  • Entering 2003, the Huskers have ranked among the nation's top 10 in scoring average 22 of the last 25 years (since 1978) and finished first on four occasions (1982, 1983, 1994 and 1997).
  • Nebraska is 303-2 all time when scoring 35 or more points, losing only to Oklahoma, 49-35, in 1950 and at Colorado, 62-36, in 2001. Before the loss at Colorado two seasons ago, NU had won 236 consecutive games when scoring 35 or more points.
  • The last time the Huskers were shut out was a 19-0 loss at Arizona State in 1996. Nebraska has since scored in 89 straight games.
  • Nebraska has not been shut out at home since KSU shut out the Huskers, 12-0, on Homecoming in 1968 (221 games).
  • The Huskers have been shut out just five times since 1962, including once at home during that span. The Huskers have not been shut out by a conference opponent since a 27-0 loss at Oklahoma in 1973. NU was shut out by Miami in the 1992 Orange Bowl (22-0), the only time the Huskers have been shut out in a bowl game.
  • The Huskers have scored 30 or more points in six of their last eight bowl games, including a school and NCAA bowl-record 66 vs. Northwestern in the 2000 Alamo Bowl.

Huskers Pull Off Historic Comeback at Texas A&M
Nebraska pulled off a historic come-from-behind victory at Texas A&M last season. In the game, Nebraska rallied from a 31-14 third-quarter deficit to post a 38-31 victory at Kyle Field. A few notes on Nebraska?s comeback victory at A&M last season.

  • The rally from 17 points down tied the top comeback in school history and was Nebraska?s best under Head Coach Frank Solich. NU trailed 17-0 in the first quarter of its 1991 game at Kansas, but rallied to win 59-23.
  • The previous largest deficit Nebraska had overcome to win under Solich was 10 points against Missouri on Oct. 24, 1998, in Lincoln. NU trailed 13-3 in the second quarter, but rallied for a 20-13 win.
  • Nebraska trailed 31-21 entering the fourth quarter at Texas A&M. The last time Nebraska rallied from a bigger deficit entering the fourth quarter was on Oct. 22, 1966, at Colorado. The Huskers trailed 19-7 entering the fourth quarter, but rallied for a 21-19 victory vs. the Buffs.
  • Nebraska rallied from 10-point deficits entering the fourth quarter twice for bowl victories under Tom Osborne. NU trailed Florida 10-0 entering the fourth in the 1974 Sugar Bowl and won 13-10 and was behind North Carolina 17-7 heading into the fourth quarter of the 1977 Liberty Bowl, but escaped with a 21-17 victory.
  • Before the A&M game, NU had not won a game when trailing at any point in the fourth quarter since a 34-32 victory over Colorado on Nov. 24, 2000. CU led 32-31 late in the game, but NU?s Josh Brown hit a game-winning field goal on the last play of the contest.

Dr. Tom, Coach, Hall of Famer, Rep. Osborne
Any of the above are appropriate titles when referring to former Nebraska Head Coach Tom Osborne (1973-97). Osborne guided the Huskers to a 255-49-3 record in his 25 seasons on the sideline and won three national championships (1994, 1995 and 1997). He retired as head football coach on Dec. 10, 1997, and is the only collegiate football coach to retire as a reigning national champion. The College Football Hall of Fame waved the customary waiting period for enshrinement and Osborne joined the Hall in December of 1998.

Osborne has since taken to politics where he is in his second term in the U.S. Congress, serving as the representative from Nebraska?s third district. Osborne engineered his share of landslide wins in his years on the Husker sideline, but perhaps none as large as his victory in last November?s election. Osborne received 93 percent of the vote, easily outdistancing opponent Jerry Hickman. In Cherry County, Osborne received all 2,082 votes that were counted.

This summer Osborne was the recipient of the seventh annual Dick Enberg Award, presented to "a person whose actions and commitments have furthered the meaning and reach of the Academic All-America? programs and/or the student-athlete while promoting the values of education and academics." The award was presented on June 28 in Cleveland, at the annual Verizon/CoSIDA Academic Hall of Fame awards dinner.


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