|Nebraska's Callahan says he's not happy with his team|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 24 September 2007 11:14|
``I'm glad we have a 3-1 record as we go into conference competition,'' he said Monday, ``but I'm not pleased where we're at.''
No one would have expected the 25th-ranked Cornhuskers to be undefeated at this point, not with top-ranked Southern California on the early schedule. But other than a season-opening, 42-point win over Nevada, Nebraska has underperformed for three straight games heading into Saturday's Big 12 opener against Iowa State.
Fan unrest manifested itself in a shower of boos in the second half of Saturday's 41-40 win over Ball State.
``There is criticism out there. I'm sure I'm at the heart of it,'' Callahan said during a conference call with reporters. ``All I'm going to do is the best I can. There is a lot of season. You have to change where you're at from a performance standpoint and really change anything that you can to tweak and get your team going.''
The Huskers have plenty of areas to address. They're giving up 203.5 yards rushing, 203.5 yards passing and 29 points a game. Their front seven have just three sacks. They rank no higher than 45th nationally in any major statistical category.
Defensive concerns arose Sept. 8 at Wake Forest. The Huskers won 20-17, but they failed to adjust to misdirection plays and gave up 376 yards.
Then came the 49-31 loss to USC in a game that wasn't as competitive as the score showed. The disparity in talent was accentuated by poor tackling and missed assignments. The Trojans rushed for 313 of their 457 total yards.
Ball State, a 23-point underdog, led by nine points with less than 10 minutes to play and probably would have won if Dante Love hadn't dropped a sure touchdown pass at the 10-yard line and Jake Hogue hadn't missed a 55-yard field goal at the end.
The Cardinals rolled up 610 yards of offense, the most by a Nebraska opponent since Washington amassed 618 yards in Lincoln in 1991. The difference is the '91 Washington team went on to win a share of the national championship. Ball State hasn't had a winning season since 1996 and is picked to finish fourth in the West Division of the Mid-American Conference.
Callahan, who publicly backed defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove last week, said Ball State exploited out-of-position defenders in passing situations. The Cardinals converted nine third downs and 12 plays went for 20 yards or more.
The boos didn't surprise Callahan, who heard his share of catcalls as the beleaguered coach of the Oakland Raiders in 2003. He said he blocked them out.
Callahan said linebacker Steve Octavien should have done the same thing rather than criticize fans in a radio interview after the game, saying: ``If they don't like it, they don't have to come and watch the game.''
That's where Callahan draws the line.
``I told him there are other ways to do that and that it wasn't appropriate,'' Callahan said, adding that he expected Octavien to apologize to the fans.
If the Huskers don't improve, however, Callahan said he expects to hear more boos.
``In America, people expect excellence, and that's what we're trying to achieve,'' he said. ``When you don't achieve that, it's tough, and you have to endure that. It's part of the game, part of the culture. It's 2007 and I'm very well aware of the fans and their approach to the game and what they expect.''