Payback time
Husker defense atones for last seasonís effort.

By BOB THOMPSON of the Tribuneís staff

Story ran on Sunday, September 30 2001

All week long Nebraskaís defense was reminded about last yearís dismal performance against Missouri - about how the Tigers tore through the Blackshirts both on the ground and in the air to the tune of 492 yards.

Even though the Cornhuskers eventually won the game handily, defensive coordinator Craig Bohl and his squad were embarrassed.

Ed Pfueller photo
Nebraska's T.J. Hollowell sacks Missouri quarterback Kirk Farmer in the fourth quarter of the Cornhuskers' 36-3 victory. MU gained just 205 yards.
"Any time you give up 500 yards of offense to a team, that sticks in your head," NU outside linebacker Scott Shanle said. "We had our worst game of the season last year against them, so it was definitely added motivation for us today. We remember how we felt that night."

Their memory was refreshed when MU quarterback Kirk Farmer took the field and came out gunning yesterday. But by mid-afternoon it was Farmer and the Tiger offense who would be answering all the questions about what went wrong as Nebraska dominated the second half on the way to a 36-3 win on Faurot Field.

"We did not anticipate Farmer playing, and heís been a menace for us," Bohl said. "I thought he threw the ball well early, but by the middle of the second quarter I thought we had the game at least somewhat under control defensively.

"As the game went along, our guys began to get more and more confident. Once the scheme began to unfold, we became very aggressive, and we were pleased with how we finished off the game. Our guys were playing just as hard in the fourth quarter as when the game started."

Farmer got off to a quick start in the first quarter and showed no signs of being hampered by the strained MCL injury he suffered against Southwest Texas three weeks ago. At halftime the junior from Jefferson City had 114 yards on 12-of-25 passing.

But Farmerís task was made more difficult because the Tigers couldnít run the ball against the Cornhuskers. MU finished with 67 yards on 23 carries, and 29 of those came on one run in the third quarter by Zack Abron. Farmer dumped the ball underneath to pick up some first downs, at least in the first half.

"Theyíre as good a run defense as there is in the country, so I thought we had to do some things gameplan-wise to, instead of running for 5 yards, to get 4-, 5- or 6-yard completions," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "In the first half, for the most part, we did a lot of that. In the second half, we werenít throwing as well or catching as well, and certainly Iím disappointed in that."

The Tigers had just three first downs in the second half and finished with 205 yards of total offense. Farmer, who was 15 of 39 for 128 yards, was harassed in the second half, although NU only sacked him once.

"At the beginning of the game he felt a little too comfortable back there in the pocket, and we didnít like that too much," NU linebacker T. J. Hollowell said. "Coach told us to keep putting pressure on him, so we kept hitting him, getting hurries and we rattled him a little bit - you could see it in his eyes.

"He looked a little nervous, got those happy feet and started throwing the ball early and was out of sync with his receivers."

Junior Darius Outlaw stepped in for Farmer for one series in each half, but couldnít get anything going either. He completed just 1 of 4 passes for 10 yards.

"It didnít matter who they played at quarterback as long as we came to play," Hollowell said. "Last year they racked up a whole lot of yards on us, so one of our goals this year was to hold them under 200 yards.

"I donít know what they finished with, but it wasnít 492 yards, I know that. We just got stronger as the game went on."

Reach Bob Thompson at (573) 815-1781 or