It’s another loss, but yet another week where it’s hard to find much fault with the Blackshirts.
Still, there was no finger-pointing by defensive players after a 9-7 loss to Iowa State on Saturday that can be chalked up to the offense’s inability to score.
Husker senior nose tackle Ndamukong Suh was standing by his teammates.
“We know our offense is still potent and will be potent again,” he said. “They just need to work out some kinks and whatnot. Like I said last week, that’s where we have to step up on the defensive side and the special-teams side and pick that group up.”
The Blackshirts appeared to do that late in the second quarter when Barry Turner knocked the ball loose from Iowa State quarterback Jerome Tiller. Husker defensive end Jared Crick rushed to cover it, but had the ball slide underneath him and into the arms of a Cyclone.
The only thing the Husker defense really failed to do was create a turnover. But what did defenders think watching the offense give up the ball eight times?
“We just got to get ready to go,” Crick said. “We love being on the field with each other, and we get excited whenever we get the opportunity to make a three-and-out. We didn’t really think of it as being a demoralizing kind of thing, but we just got ready to go.”
No specifics were given, but senior center Jacob Hickman got dinged up early in the game, making way for sophomore Mike Caputo.
“It just became apparent that Caputo was going to be the better choice for us, and to be honest with you, we kind of consider (him) a starter anyway,” offensive line coach Barney Cotton said.
Cotton doesn’t think Hickman’s injury is too serious.
The coach did do some rotating at right guard, giving snaps to Andy Christensen instead of Ricky Henry.
As for the line play as a whole, Cotton said: “Our guys invested this week and had as good a week of preparation since we’ve been here. Why it happened the way it did, I don’t know.”
Coaches say they never considered playing backup quarterback Cody Green.
Husker coach Bo Pelini said that starter Zac Lee played well.
“I don’t think we played well around Zac,” Pelini said. “I think Zac was the least of our problems today.”
Lee wouldn’t say when he found out he would start. As for the faith coaches showed in him Saturday, he said: “It meant a lot. We were moving the ball well. It wasn’t necessarily anything one guy was doing or one guy wasn’t doing. It was just we kept kind of shooting ourselves in the foot.”
Sophomore wide receiver Brandon Kinnie, a newcomer from the junior college ranks, hadn’t seen much playing time before Saturday. But he was on the field as early as Nebraska’s second offensive series, and had a couple of catches on that series. He finished with three catches for 27 yards.
“I’ve been working hard all year since I’ve been here to learn the playbook and get a grasp of it,” Kinnie said. “And I’m finally getting the hang of it, getting a swagger about myself, and I’m feeling good out there. I’m being able to play fast and not think — like I was brought in here to do.”
Suh blocked an extra-point kick and a field goal Saturday, but he credited Crick for helping him get the push to make it happen.
Suh’s blocked field goal, the fifth block of his career, seemed like it could turn the game in Nebraska’s favor with 11:15 left. After the block, Sean Fisher picked up the ball and ran it back 34 yards to the ISU 35-yard line.
“It definitely gave us a lot of motivation,” Crick said. “I thought we’d pick it up and roll with it. But things happen. It’s just the way it is. There’s nothing we can do about it now.”
Suh: We can still meet our goals
Nebraska’s minus eight in turnover margin broke the school record. The previous record was minus seven against Missouri in 1968.
The eight turnovers tied the school record set against Colorado in 1967 and Iowa State 1972. Nebraska’s seven fumbles were the most since the Kansas State game in 2005. The five lost fumbles were the most since losing five at Baylor in 2001.
Reach Brian Christopherson at bchristopherson@ journalstar.com or 473-7439.