I've heard some pretty load groans, along with a few boos, in recent seasons at Memorial Stadium.

But I've never heard them as loud as they were in the fourth quarter Saturday.

"I ain't ever heard 'em boo us," senior wide receiver Maurice Purify said. "That was the first time."

Evidently, that's what you get from the best fans in college football when you fall behind Ball State 37-28.

"They had the right to boo us," Purify said, "because we weren't playing as good as we should've played."

It’s safe to say Purify wasn’t the target of any boo birds â€- not when Ball State goes from its 4-yard line to the Nebraska 22 in two plays.

What did defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove think of the fans?

"Were they bad?" Cosgrove said. "I didn't hear."

Uh, you didn't hear the boos?

"Oh," Cosgrove said, "I heard a few of those."

(Makes you wonder what Coz was originally pretending he didn't hear.)

"I've got to do a job," Cosgrove said. "I can't be concerned about that. I'm just trying to do the best job I can."

Defensive end Barry Turner heard the boos.

"It's not good to get those at home," Turner said. "But you just keep pushing. The fans expect a lot from the Huskers, especially the Blackshirt defense."

Said quarterback Sam Keller: "It's disappointing. Being on offense and hearing that happen for the defense, it's not good, but that's the nature of the game.

"We had to respond to it. We had to respond to all kinds of adversity."

That's something you hear after road games, not home games.

Is this seat taken?

Knowing Ball State had returned 400 tickets late last week, I went to the ticket office Saturday morning (out of curiosity) to see if I could still buy a ticket.

"Sold out" was the response. That's 285 sellouts in a row.

So why the pocket of empty seats in the visitors' section?

I'm told those were simply no-shows by some Ball State fans. The 400 returned tickets were indeed sold, taking up a different section.

Interesting, though, how some areas (north end zone, in particular) became increasingly sparse throughout the second half.

Boos are one thing. A growing number of empty seats in a back-and-forth game? â€-

Retirement home

Now retired from the NFL, former Husker Will Shields is becoming a regular at Memorial Stadium.

Shields attended the USC game and was here again Saturday, when he was honored for his 1993 induction into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame.

He missed his 10-year-old son's football game Saturday in Kansas City to attend.

"You know, it's give and take," Shields said.

And, yes, Shields misses football. Parts of it, anyway.

"I miss being down here for warmups and getting yourself pumped up and ready to go, those kinds of things," Shields said. "But once it gets to a point where you know you can't do what you want to do on the field, it's time to move on and do other things."

Going deep

* I guess there was a highlight from last week's game. I saw the HuskerVision replay of Quentin Castille's hit on a kickoff return. My goodness.

* The general pre-game buzz for this game was definitely lacking, but the line for the porta-potty a block away from the stadium was still seven deep at 9:45 a.m. Hey, at least they were using the porta-potty this week.

* How's this for getting it done? Larry the Cable Guy each week gives six suite tickets to members of the National Guard (although Saturday, the tickets went to Army reserves). "They're awesome dudes," Larry said. Awesome move, too.

Reach Brian Rosenthal at 473-7436 or brosenthal@journalstar.com.