LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -The Nebraska Cornhuskers are feeling unloved.
Following a startling one-point win over Ball State, the Huskers have been hearing the critics.
``This is the first time in my career that we haven't had the support,'' senior linebacker Corey McKeon said Tuesday. ``It's hard enough to win ball games in today's college football.''
Fellow linebacker Steve Octavien, who chastised fans after the 41-40 victory over Ball State for booing the defense, saying ``If they don't like it, they don't have to come and watch the game,'' apologized for those remarks Tuesday.
``I was just very emotional, and I really truly apologize to the fans for the comment I made,'' he said. ``We have great fans. It was just a mistake, and it was very un-Christianlike for me to say, and something I won't do again.''
Octavien said he was frustrated by the way the defense has played the past three games.
So are lots of other people in Nebraska. The Huskers have allowed an average of 481 yards to Wake Forest, Southern California and Ball State.
But for all their problems, the 25th-ranked Huskers go into Saturday's Big 12 opener against Iowa State with a 3-1 record. Their only loss is to top-ranked Southern California.
``We're 3-1 and people are looking at it like we haven't won,'' McKeon said. ``They're looking at us like Notre Dame, like we're 0-4.''
Some fans have called for the firing of defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove.
Coach Bill Callahan, for the second straight week, said Cosgrove's job is safe.
``He's got my full support. There's no question,'' Callahan said.
McKeon said the players believe in Cosgrove and take offense to the public outcry against him.
``It really bothers me for people to point the finger at Coach Cos,'' McKeon said. ``All this garbage on Facebook and on the Internet and all the blogs, it's garbage.''
Octavien said it's the players' fault, not Cosgrove's, for the way the defense is performing.
``He's lining us up in the right way, and we're not trusting it and doing our own thing and just playing bad,'' he said.
Callahan said he understands why his team is under fire. He said he's trying to keep the atmosphere positive.
``When you go through some adversity, it's important that you close ranks and really support each other,'' he said.
Receiver Maurice Purify said the offense, which is averaging 492.5 yards and 36 points a game, has not pointed fingers at the defense.
``We're coming together as a team and supporting our defense during their hard time,'' Purify said. ``You have to tell them things can only get better from here. Just practice hard and things will click.''
McKeon acknowledges that football generates millions of dollars for universities, but he says fans need to understand the players are not professionals.
``You're a student-athlete. It's supposed to be fun,'' McKeon said. ``You say 'student-athlete,' and all people look at is the football. They don't care about anything else. If I miss a class or if I get a bad grade on a quiz, it's not in the paper.''
Callahan said he doesn't mind the fans' high expectations.
``That's why I came here,'' the fourth-year coach said. ``We visualize and envision the opportunity to win a national championship. When it doesn't go well, and you get knocked down a few notches and you have problems in one certain area, you've got to fix it.''

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