|Huskers get keen scrutiny, even with 4-1 record|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 03 October 2007 00:24|
Nebraska has won four of five games to start the season - as good as anyone could have reasonably expected - yet there might not be a more scrutinized 4-1 team in the nation.
``I like that we're held to a high standard, because I think we can play to that standard,'' defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh said.
The 25th-ranked Huskers, who play at No. 17 Missouri on Saturday, have given the fans and talking heads plenty of fodder.
The defense gave up 610 yards to Ball State two weeks ago, then allowed an Iowa State offense ranked last in the Big 12 to get off a school-record 102 plays for 415 yards last week.
The rushing attack is middle-of-the-pack nationally and in the Big 12, though Marlon Lucky is the conference leader at 113 yards a game. But the Huskers haven't been able to pick up the tough yards consistently on third-and-short and near the goal line.
Turnovers? The Huskers fumbled twice and Sam Keller was intercepted, all on their first three possessions against Iowa State. For the season, their margin is minus-2.
``People watch the games, and they see what's going on,'' he said. ``When we're not playing good, it's obvious. So that's what is going to be talked about.''
The Cornhuskers were panned for not showing up well in their 49-31 loss to top-ranked Southern California. USC's offensive line dominated, and its backs gashed the Huskers for 313 yards. Then again, the Trojans were supposed to win.
The Huskers are still 4-1.
``People are going to find little holes in our team to try to pick on us and to justify why they think we're not as good as our record says,'' offensive lineman Carl Nicks said. ``We've got to keep rolling.
``If we cared, we would be 2-2 or 1-3. It would be like an emotional burden to have on your shoulders. We take it with a grain of salt.''
Coach Bill Callahan says he'll never apologize for a win, regardless of how it looks.
He said the kind of dominance enjoyed by USC since 2002, much like the dominance of Nebraska in the mid-1990s, is harder than ever to achieve.
Asked whether his team's hard-earned victories have given him a greater appreciation for the 60-3 run in the '90s by Tom Osborne at Nebraska, Callahan said he's in awe of all the great powers.
``There's no question about how hard it is to do,'' he said. ``There's only been a few teams in sports that have been dominant for long periods of time.''
Keller said he's just glad to play for a team that's part of the conversation in college football.
``What would college football be without all the stuff that comes with it - the TV, the newspaper?'' he said. ``It wouldn't have that glamour to it. Either you like it or you don't. You can either complain or you can take it in stride. Our guys have taken it in stride. We've bonded and have become stronger as a team.''
Nicks said there's something to be said for a team that can win games in spite of its sloppy play.
``We know we're not even on our 'C' game right now,'' Nicks said. ``We're 4-1 and we're turning the ball over and giving up so many yards. Just think what's going to happen when we are on our 'A' game? To be 4-1, we're really happy with that because we have a lot better football in us.''