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Nebraska to Face Another Road Challenge Against Nationally Ranked Cyclones

By NU Athletic Communications
Nebraska (3-1) at Iowa State (4-1, 1-0)

DATE: Saturday, Sept. 28, 2002;
TIME: 2:37 p.m. Central
SITE: Ames, Iowa
STADIUM: Jack Trice Stadium;
NEBRASKA RADIO: 57-station Pinnacle Sports Network (Jim Rose-Play-by-Play; Color-Adrian Fiala; Gary Sharp-Sideline) TV: ABC Regional (Brent Musberger-Play-by-Play, Gary Danielson-Color; Jack Arute-Sideline)
NATIONAL RADIO: Monarch Sports Game of the Week (Tim Neverett-Play by Play; J.K. McCay-Color)

ABC COVERAGE MAP (click here)

Lincoln -- Nebraska (3-1) is ready for its Big 12 opener this week, facing a second consecutive difficult road contest on Saturday afternoon at nationally ranked Iowa State. The Nebraska-Iowa State matchup will be televised regionally by ABC with kickoff at ISU?s Jack Trice Stadium set for 2:37 p.m. CDT.

The Huskers dropped out of the top 10 in both major polls last week following their 40-7 setback at Penn State. In the Associated Press poll, Nebraska is now ranked 20th. The Huskers dropped from eighth to 18th following the loss, then slipped to No. 20 this week, with Big 12 rivals Iowa State and Kansas State passing the Huskers after victories. The Huskers slipped from seventh to 19th in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll after their loss and remained in that position this week. The Sept. 15 AP poll marked the first time in 55 polls that Nebraska has not been ranked in the top 10. Nebraska?s No. 20 AP ranking marks the 348th consecutive week the Huskers have been ranked in the Top 25.

The 4-1 Cyclones are coming off a 42-12 victory over Troy State on Saturday night in Ames. Troy State was the first common opponent the two schools played this season. Nebraska defeated the Trojans, 31-16, in Lincoln on Aug. 31. Iowa State opened with a 38-31 loss to fourth-ranked Florida State in Kansas City, but have since rebounded with four consecutive victories. Iowa State broke into the polls last week, then climbed to 19th in AP and 21st in the coaches poll after the Troy State victory.

The Iowa State game will be the Huskers? Big 12 opener and marks the fourth time in five seasons under Frank Solich that Nebraska has opened league play away from Lincoln. Solich is a perfect 4-0 in Big 12 openers and the Huskers have won 27 straight conference openers since a 21-10 loss to Missouri in Lincoln in 1974. Nebraska has won the last nine meetings between the two schools since a 19-10 loss in Ames in 1992. The Huskers defeated Iowa State, 48-14, last season in Lincoln.

Huskers Fall at Penn State in First Road Test of 2002
Nebraska dropped to 3-1 on the season with a 40-7 loss at Penn State on Sept. 14 before a crowd of 110,753, the largest ever to witness a Nebraska football game. The Huskers? loss was their first in a non-conference regular-season game since 1996 and dropped NU out of the Associated Press top 10 for the first time since the 1998 season.

After a scoreless first quarter, Penn State got on the scoreboard early in the second quarter on a seven-yard touchdown run by Larry Johnson. The score capped an eight-play, 80-yard drive by the Nittany Lions. The Husker offense quickly responded. Quarterback Jammal Lord led Nebraska 84 yards in eight plays with Judd Davies finishing the drive with a two-yard TD run to tie the game at 7-7. On the drive, Lord rushed twice for 32 yards and connected on 3 of 3 passes for 41 yards.

The Penn State offense mounted two more long drives in the second quarter, but the Husker defense stiffened on both occasions forcing the Lions to field goals. Robbie Gould was successful on both attempts in the second quarter, giving PSU a 13-7 halftime advantage.

Penn State picked up where it left off after halftime, taking the opening kickoff of the second half and driving 80 yards in 16 plays. The Nittany Lions? two-point conversion failed but PSU led 19-7, after using up nearly half of the third quarter on the scoring drive. The Penn State defense then got into the act on Nebraska?s next possession. Rich Gardner intercepted a Lord pass and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown, putting Penn State ahead 26-7.

Nebraska was forced to punt after three plays on its next drive and Penn State took just three plays to move 55 yards for another touchdown. The Lions capped the scoring midway through the fourth quarter with a 54-yard march in eight plays, accounting for the 40-7 final margin.

The Nittany Lions dominated statistically as well as on the scoreboard. Penn State gained 476 yards of total offense, picking up 217 on the ground and 259 behind the passing of Zack Mills, who hit on 19 of 31 attempts. Nebraska gained 328 yards of total offense, including 252 on the ground, led by Lord?s 111 yards on 14 carries. However, three interceptions foiled any Husker comeback hopes.

Recapping Game Four...Penn State 40, NU 7

  • The crowd of 110,753 was easily the largest ever to see Nebraska play. The previous record was 93,781 at the 2002 Rose Bowl against Miami and the old regular-season mark was 85,304 also at PSU?s Beaver Stadium in 1982.
  • Junior punter Kyle Larson continued his strong start to the 2002 season. Larson boomed six punts an average of 46.8 yards in the game and pinned the Nittany Lions inside their own 20 on two occasions.
  • Senior rush end Chris Kelsay recorded three tackles, including a sack and tied his career-high with four quarterback hurries. It marked the second straight game Kelsay has had four quarterback hurries and the third time in four games this season he has had at least one sack.
  • Quarterback Jammal Lord rushed for a career-high 111 yards on 14 carries, including a 27-yard gain in the second quarter. It marked Lord?s second 100-yard game of the season, joining a 103-yard effort against Arizona State.
  • I-back Dahrran Diedrick rushed for 71 yards on 16 carries, moving him into the top 20 on the NU career rushing list. Diedrick now has 2,120 career yards to rank 20th on the NU chart.
  • Freshman split end Ross Pilkington had a 16-yard reception, the longest of his Husker career. He finished the night with two catches for 29 yards and also had an 11-yard run on NU?s first series, his longest rush as a Husker.
  • Senior tight end Aaron Golliday had a 16-yard reception on NU?s second-quarter scoring drive, his first catch since a four-yard grab against TCU in the 2001 season opener.
  • The 33-point defeat was Nebraska?s worst loss since a 45-10 setback at Oklahoma in 1990.
  • Nebraska?s loss ended a streak of 22 straight victories in the regular season against non-conference opponents, dating back to a 19-0 loss at Arizona State in 1996. The Huskers? loss was also their first in the months of August or September since that loss at ASU.
  • The loss was Nebraska?s first against an unranked Associated Press opponent since a 20-16 loss to Texas on Oct. 31, 1998. The Huskers had won 27 straight contests against unranked AP foes since that contest. The Nittany Lions were ranked 25th in the coaches poll entering the game.
  • Nine of Nebraska?s 10 losses under Coach Frank Solich have come against teams ranked in the top 25 of one of the two polls.
  • The loss ended Nebraska?s streak of eight consecutive victories against Big Ten opponents. The Huskers? previous loss to a Big Ten foe was a 27-23 setback against Michigan in the 1986 Fiesta Bowl. NU had won 11 straight regular-season games against the Big Ten since a 27-24 loss at Penn State in 1982.
  • Jammal Lord threw three interceptions, the first time an NU opponent has picked off three passes since Oklahoma in 1990.

Nebraska Head Coach Frank Solich
Coach Frank Solich (Nebraska, 1966) is in his fifth season at the helm of the Husker program with a 45-10 school and career record (.818). With 11 wins in 2001, Solich moved into a tie for fourth on the all-time Division I list for victories in the first four seasons as a head coach. He will officially qualify to rank among his peers after this season with five years as a head coach, and with an .818 winning percentage, would rank third among active coaches in Division I-A. Solich is 4-0 against Iowa State.

Coach Solich became just the third first-year Nebraska head coach to record nine wins in his first season at the helm, joining a pair of Hall of Fame Coaches?Tom Osborne (9-2-1 in 1973) and Bob Devaney (9-2 in 1962). Solich posted a 9-4 record in his first season, despite being hit heavy with injuries. He posted the best record of any Husker second-year coach as his team posted a 12-1 record in 1999, leading NU to a Big 12 championship and No. 2 (coaches poll) and No. 3 (AP poll) final national rankings. Solich?s 21 wins in his first two years at NU bettered Devaney?s previous school record of 19 and ranked in a tie for third all time among Division I coaches in their first two years at the helm. He went 10-2 in 2000 and his 31 wins in three years bettered both Osborne and Devaney?s 28 wins in their first three years. His 42 wins in four years is also a school best.

Solich is the only Husker coach to have won 12 games in either of his first two seasons. Devaney won nine games in his first year, 10 his second year, nine in his third and 10 in his fourth, while Osborne won nine, nine, 10 and nine, respectively. Devaney won his first conference title his second year, while Osborne tied for his first title in his third year at the helm. Solich was named the 1999 Big 12 Coach of the Year by his league peers and the AP after winning the league championship in 1999, and was named coach of the year by the conference coaches a second time in 2001.

Solich has continued Nebraska's winning tradition the Husker way?by identification of athletic talent regardless of position or recruiting rank; with successful recruitment nationwide of the country's best student-athletes; developing local talent and utilizing the envious Husker walk-on program; and by providing the best athletic facilities and support available for the student-athletes.

Although defensive coordinator Charlie McBride retired after the 1999 season, the rest of Coach Osborne's staff is intact. Solich replaced himself with recruiting specialist and running backs coach Dave Gillespie, who was the recruiting coordinator at Nebraska when the Huskers signed the athletes who won back-to-back national championships in 1994 and 1995, and hired former Husker Jeff Jamrog away from New Mexico State to replace McBride in January of 2000. Counting Solich, five members of the Husker coaching staff played for Nebraska. Solich is one of 17 current Division I-A football coaches who played for and now coach their alma mater.

Solich was named Nebraska?s 26th head coach on Dec. 10, 1997, after serving as an NU assistant for 19 years. He played fullback for Hall of Fame Coach Bob Devaney, lettering in 1963-64-65. Solich was the first Husker running back to rush for 200 yards in a game and remains the only fullback to accomplish that feat. He also lettered for the NU baseball team in 1965. After serving as a local high school football coach for 14 years, Solich took over the NU freshman program and posted a 19-1 record from 1979 to 1982. He was elevated to NU?s running backs coach after four seasons, a position he held for 15 years (1983-97). He was promoted to assistant head coach in 1991 and head coach following the 1997 season. Solich earned his bachelor?s and master?s degrees from NU in 1966 and 1972, respectively.

Darlington Reaches 300 Wins at Nebraska
Nebraska secondary coach George Darlington has been a part of the Husker coaching staff since 1973, Tom Osborne?s first season as head coach. Darlington was a part of all 255 of Osborne?s victories at Nebraska and has been a part of 45 Husker victories with Frank Solich at the helm?good for a total of 300 victories as a member of the NU coaching staff. The long-time NU coach was presented the game ball and a plaque on the field by Solich at the conclusion of the Husker win over Utah State.

"You can travel all across the country and it would be hard to find another coach that has reached that accomplishment," Solich said. "That is an amazing feat that George has accomplished. He is a great coach that has recruited a number of great athletes."

Solich was on the mark regarding Darlington?s accomplishment. Research indicates that Darlington is the first Division I-A assistant to be a part of 300 victories at the same school. Husker offensive line coach Milt Tenopir who joined Osborne?s staff after one season is not far behind Darlington with 291 wins as a Husker assistant. Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, a member of Joe Paterno?s staff for 31 seasons retired following the 1999 season after being a part of 293 Nittany Lion victories.

Coaches? Game Day Assignments
Following the lead of Tom Osborne, Coach Solich is his own offensive coordinator, calling the plays from the sideline. Craig Bohl, who tutors the linebackers and is in his third season as defensive coordinator is also on the sideline, along with receivers coach Ron Brown, quarterbacks coach Turner Gill, defensive line coach Jeff Jamrog and kickers/offensive line coach Dan Young. Assisting from above in the press box are rush ends coach Nelson Barnes, defensive backs coach George Darlington, running backs coach Dave Gillespie and offensive line coach Milt Tenopir.

Extra Special Teams
Like his predecessors Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne, NU Head Coach Frank Solich has stressed the importance of the Husker special teams. Entering the 2002 campaign, Solich has mentioned on numerous occasions that this year?s kicking and coverage units had the potential to be very "special." If the early season is a good indication, Solich?s thoughts may prove to be quite prophetic.

In Nebraska?s season opener, the Huskers blocked two punts, one of which was returned for a touchdown, keying a 48-10 win over Arizona State. The punt return unit stole the show against Troy State. Senior DeJuan Groce tied an NCAA record with two punt return touchdowns in NU?s 31-16 victory. The Huskers enjoyed a 20-yard advantage in average field position against Utah State due in large part to specialty units.

Here?s a quick look at Nebraska?s special teams dominance through four games.

  • Punt Returns...Nebraska is averaging 22.3 yards on its 13 punt returns this season. Groce has returned 11 punts for 263 yards, for a remarkable 23.9 average, good for fourth in the nation. Groce?s two punt return touchdowns vs. Troy State not only set a school record, but matched the NCAA record. His 83-yard TD was the fifth-longest punt return in school history and his 155 yards on two returns were just 15 yards shy of the school record for punt return yardage in a game. Groce is sixth at Nebraska in career punt return yards.
  • Place-kicking...Senior place-kicker Josh Brown is 4-4 on field goals in 2002 and perfect in 16 PAT attempts. Brown hit on field goals of 40 and 42 yards against Arizona State, marking the first time in his career he has made a pair of 40+-yard field goals in the same game and had a season-best 44-yarder vs. Utah State. Brown?s performance on kickoff duties should not be left unnoticed. Sixteen of his 25 kickoffs this season have ended in touchbacks. Brown was named Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week for his work in the season opener against Arizona State.
  • Punting...NU?s Kyle Larson was one of the Big 12?s best last season, averaging 42.5 yards per punt. He?s been even better in 2002 with Larson averaging 47.2 yards to rank fourth in the nation. He has also pinned the opposition inside the 20 six times. Larson averaged 57.3 yards on four punts against Utah State, just off a school record. Larson, a Ray Guy Award candidate, has been NU?s nominee for Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week each of the past two weeks. Nebraska ranks fifth in the nation in net punting at 43.33 yards per attempt.
  • Blocked Kicks...NU has had a history of being one of the nation?s best kick blocking units. Demorrio Williams and Lannie Hopkins each blocked a punt in the second half of Nebraska? victory over Arizona State, marking the first time since a 1999 win over Kansas State that the Huskers have had two blocked punts in the same game. Williams? blocked punt was returned six yards for a score by senior linebacker Scott Shanle. The last time NU had returned a blocked punt for a TD was at Kansas State in 2000 (Keyuo Craver).
  • Kickoff Returns...Junior Josh Davis finished 14th nationally in kickoff return average a year ago at 27.0 yards per return. This season Davis is off to a strong start averaging 25.33 yards per return, including a season-long 42-yarder vs. Utah State. Davis now ranks fourth at Nebraska in career kickoff return yardage.
  • Kick Coverage...Nebraska has allowed opponents to average just 16.0 yards on kickoff returns and only 7.4 yards on 11 punt returns this season.

Huskers Scoring in All Three Facets of Game
Nebraska has reached the end zone 17 times this season, with the offense, defense and special teams all getting into the act. Of Nebraska?s touchdowns, four have been non-offensive scores, two in each of the Huskers? first two games this season.

In the season opener against ASU, Nebraska scored via a blocked punt return and an interception return. DeJuan Groce supplied two special teams touchdowns against Troy State, returning punts 83 and 72 yards for scores, setting a school and Big 12 record and tying an NCAA record.

The first two games this season marked the first time Nebraska has recorded two or more non-offensive scores in consecutive games since the 1996 season. In that year, NU returned an interception (Ralph Brown) and a kickoff (Kenny Cheatham) for a TD at Oklahoma and the following week vs. Missouri returned a blocked punt for a score (Terrell Farley) and recorded a safety when the Tigers fumbled the ball out of the end zone.

The Huskers have now scored by defense or special teams in six of their last 11 games dating back to last season. Seven members of the 2002 team have scored non-offensive TDs in their career led by Groce?s four scores, all punt returns. Groce also became the first Husker to score two non-offensive touchdowns in a game since Julius Jackson had an interception return and a fumble return for TDs against Southern Mississippi in 1999.

Huskers to Put Streak of Success in Conference Openers on Line at ISU
Nebraska?s game at Iowa State is its 2002 Big 12 Conference opener, while Iowa State will be playing its second conference tilt. The Huskers have a remarkable run of success opening league play, having won their last 27 conference openers, including a 36-3 victory at Missouri in 2001.

The Huskers have not lost a conference opener since a 21-10 home setback to Missouri in 1974. Nebraska has been dominant in its 27-year win streak in conference openers, winning 18 of those 27 contests by 20 or more points and posting six shutouts. In fact, NU?s average margin of victory in its last 27 league openers is 30.3 points.

In the 27-game streak Nebraska has defeated four ranked opponents, most recently a 56-26 win against No. 17 Kansas State in Lincoln in 1997. The last time Nebraska opened league play against Iowa State was in 1978, when 10th-ranked Nebraska defeated the No. 15 Cyclones, 23-0, in Ames.

Nebraska is 87-17-2 all-time in conference openers, including 37-6-1 at home and 50-11-1 on the road (1-0 at neutral sites). Since 1960, Nebraska is 36-5 in league openers, including a 20-2 mark on the road.

Huskers at Home on ABC
The Nebraska-Iowa State game will be televised to an ABC regional audience. Over the years, Nebraska has had more air time on the network than many ABC television shows. The Iowa State contest will mark Nebraska?s 102nd all-time appearance on ABC, with the Huskers owning a 72-29 record on the network, including a 43-9 record in their last 52 ABC telecasts.

Nebraska Looks to Bye Week for Boost
Traditionally, the Huskers have played well after bye weeks. In games following idle weeks in the past 29 years, the Huskers are 30-7, most recently suffering a 62-36 loss at Colorado last season. Nebraska?s other bye week last season occurred following the tragedies of Sept. 11 and NU came back with a 48-3 win over Rice on the following Thursday. Five of Nebraska?s seven losses following bye weeks have been before Nebraska?s post-Thanksgiving matchups (four vs. Oklahoma, one vs. Colorado).

Huskers Hope to Boost Turnover Margin
In addition to special teams excellence, the Husker coaching staff regularly preaches the importance of a positive turnover margin. The Huskers were a +1 in that department in each of the first three games this season, but a minus-3 turnover ratio contributed to NU?s loss at Penn State.

NU returned an interception for a touchdown against Arizona State, while the Nebraska offense did not commit a turnover. In the Troy State contest, the Huskers forced three first-quarter turnovers and committed two turnovers in the game. NU upped its season interception total to six with three picks against Utah State, while the NU offense committed a pair of turnovers.

The victory over Arizona State marked the first time since 1974 (Oregon) that Nebraska did not have a turnover in its season opener. That statistic is even more impressive considering the Huskers had a new starter at quarterback in Jammal Lord and were also breaking in three starters on the offensive front.

Groce Anchors Husker Secondary; Stars on Husker Special Teams
In recent years, Nebraska has a history of having an experienced cornerback on one side of the field, with a newcomer manning the other corner. In 1996, true freshman Ralph Brown started opposite senior Michael Booker. Brown then served as a mentor for both Erwin Swiney and Keyuo Craver later in his career. Two seasons ago, Craver anchored one corner while DeJuan Groce learned the ropes as a starter at right cornerback. This season, it is Groce?s turn to handle the leadership role, as Pat Ricketts has taken over the left corner role.

Groce has shown why he is an All-America candidate and listed on the Jim Thorpe Award watch list. Groce had a pass breakup and intercepted two passes against Troy State, helping the Husker defense hold the Trojans to just 11 of 29 in the passing department. He backed up that performance with two more interceptions and a breakup against Utah State.

Groce now has 35 career PBU to rank fourth on the NU career list and is the Huskers? single-season PBU record-holder with 17 in 2000. He has eight career interceptions, including four this season, just off the Husker top 10 season list and three from the school season record of seven, held by three players. Groce?s eight career interceptions are also just off the career top 10 list. Dana Stephenson holds the NU career mark with 14 picks from 1967 to 1969. Groce ranks second nationally in interceptions per game at 1.00 and is one of only six players to have four or more interceptions this season.

Groce is also an electrifying force on Husker special teams. Against Troy State, he set a school record and tied an NCAA mark with two punt return touchdowns. Groce averages 16.3 yards per punt return in his career and is averaging 23.9 yards on 11 returns this season to rank fourth in the nation. In his career, Groce ranks sixth on the NU punt return yardage list and is in position to finish his career in second place on the chart, behind only 1972 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers.

Senior Rush End Kelsay Leading Blackshirt Front Seven
Senior rush end Chris Kelsay was a preseason All-Big 12 pick by the league?s media. In addition to his first-team all-league notice by the conference media, Kelsay was a first-team All-Big 12 pick by The Sporting News, which listed him as the nation?s No. 5 defensive end. Kelsay, a senior from Auburn, Neb., is also on preseason watch lists for the Rotary Lombardi Award and the Bronko Nagurski Award.

The 6-5, 260-pound Kelsay is off to a quick start in 2002. Through four games, Kelsay has six tackles for losses totaling 41 yards, including a Big 12-leading 4.5 sacks for 38 yards. Kelsay also leads the Huskers with 12 QB hurries, including four in each of the past two games. Kelsay recorded 1.5 sacks for 17 yards and four quarterback hurries against Arizona State and added his second career two-sack game against Utah State. Kelsay has also batted down two opposing passes, all while NU?s opponents have regularly double-teamed the senior captain.

Kelsay now has 10.5 sacks and 26 tackles for loss in his Husker career. Kelsay recorded 52 total tackles as a junior, including a team-best 17 tackles for losses totaling 58 yards and five sacks.

Jammal Lord Handling Difficult Duty of Replacing Heisman Winner
Junior Jammal Lord is charged with the difficult task of replacing departed Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch as the Husker signal caller. Lord has been Nebraska?s top offensive weapon this season, leading the Huskers in rushing three times this season and passing for 100 yards twice this year. Lord leads Nebraska in rushing with 365 yards and averages 5.8 yards per carry. His 91.2 yards per game ranks 47th in the nation and fourth in the Big 12 Conference. His 173.2 total offense yards per game leads NU and is seventh in the league.

Here?s a game-by-game look at Lord?s play early in 2002.

Arizona State: Lord made a strong debut in NU?s 48-10 victory, rushing for 103 yards in the game and directing a Husker offense that did not have a turnover in a season opener for the first time in 28 years. Lord?s play in his first career start stacked up well against several other prominent Husker quarterbacks (see left column on page 6). Troy State: Lord posted the top total offense game of his career with 206 total yards, including a career-best 114 through the air and 92 rushing yards and a touchdown on a career-high 23 carries. Utah State: He had a third consecutive solid game, completing 6-12 passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns and ran nine times for 59 yards and two scores. The game marked the first time Lord had passed or ran for two touchdowns in a game. Penn State: Lord rushed for a career-high 111 yards on 14 carries and completed 8 of 16 passes, but had three interceptions.

Lord follows Crouch, who compiled a 35-7 record as NU?s starter from 1999 to 2001, the most wins by any Husker quarterback. Lord is the eighth Husker (since 1946) to take over for a three-year starter at quarterback, most recently Scott Frost in 1996 (replaced four-year starter Tommie Frazier). All but one of the seven previous replacements posted nine wins in their first year as a starter.

3/4-Year QB


Team Rec.



NU Rec.

John Bordogna



Don Erway



Dennis Claridge



Bob Churchich



Jerry Tagge



Dave Humm



Dave Humm



V. Ferragamo



Turner Gill



Craig Sundberg



Steve Taylor



Gerry Gdowski



Tommie Frazier



Scott Frost



Eric Crouch



Jammal Lord



When comparing Lord with the 2002 Heisman winner, Lord has a definite size advantage, as Crouch stood 6-1, 200 and Lord is 6-2, 220. Coach Solich said that Lord has great scrambling abilities.

"One thing he does as well as any quarterback I can recall at Nebraska," Solich said, "is once a play breaks down, he makes something out of it. When scrambling, he instinctively will dump the ball off to someone running free."

Diedrick Continuing Husker Running Back Legacy
Senior I-back Dahrran Diedrick is the latest in a long line of outstanding Husker running backs. Diedrick was the Big 12?s leading rusher in 2001 with 1,299 yards and was a first-team All-Big 12 preseason pick in 2002 by the league?s media.

Last month, Diedrick was one of 42 players named to the preseason watch list for the Doak Walker Award, given annually to the nation's top running back. Diedrick was also named first-team preseason All-Big 12 by Football News and Athlon, which also listed him as a second-team preseason All-America pick. The Scarborough, Ontario, Canada native was also listed by Lindy?s and The Sporting News as one of the nation?s top 10 running backs entering the season.

Diedrick reached a milestone against Utah State when he became the 21st Husker to rush for 2,000 career yards. Diedrick finished the game with a season-high 93 yards on 16 carries. Against Penn State, the senior ran for 71 yards on 16 carries and moved into the top 20 on NU?s career rushing list. Diedrick?s career rushing total stands at 2,120 yards and for the year, he has rushed for 306 yards and two touchdowns. He needs just 85 yards to crack NU?s top 15.

Diedrick, who scored 15 touchdowns last year, rushed for 100 or more yards in seven of his 11 regular-season appearances and scored two or more TDs in five games. If Diedrick were to duplicate his yardage total of 2001, he would move into the top five on NU?s career rushing chart.

Thomas Among Nebraska?s Career Receiving Leaders
Senior split end Wilson Thomas is being relied on as a go-to-player in the Husker offensive attack this season. The 6-6 Thomas leads Nebraska with 10 receptions, including two touchdowns this season. He opened the season with a nine-yard TD against Arizona State, one of his three catches against the Sun Devils, and had an NU season-high four grabs against Troy State. Thomas grabbed his second TD of the year against Utah State on a 23-yard connection with Jammal Lord.

Thomas caught three or more passes in nine games last season, including six each against Oklahoma and Kansas State, and has 11 career three-catch games. He capped the 2001 regular season with a career-best 109 receiving yards against Colorado, including a career-long 78-yard reception.

Thomas has 48 career receptions and is just two catches from cracking the top 20 on the NU career list and is within striking distance of the top five. With 707 career receiving yards, Thomas ranks 23rd on the NU charts and is 293 yards short of becoming just the 12th Husker in school history to reach 1,000 career receiving yards.

Thomas? 37 receptions last year were the most by any Husker since All-American Irving Fryar caught 40 balls in 1983, and the sixth-most ever by a Husker. Thomas? 616 receiving yards ranked as the fifth-best single-season total in school history and was a record for Husker split ends.

Thomas has spent his past two offseasons playing for Coach Barry Collier?s Husker basketball team. Last season Thomas averaged 4.6 points and 3.8 rebounds in 16 games, including a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds against Missouri in Lincoln.

Other Huskers on Preseason Watch Lists for National Awards
Groce, Kelsay and Diedrick lead a strong group of Huskers who have been mentioned as preseason candidates for major national awards. Husker linebackers Scott Shanle and Barrett Ruud are two of the 67 preseason candidates for the Butkus Award.

Ruud was Nebraska?s leading tackler in the season opener with eight stops against Arizona State and has 21 tackles on the season. The sophomore from Lincoln showed the type of toughness of the award?s namesake against Troy State when he broke his hand on the game?s second play, but returned in the second quarter. He has played the past two games in a cast, but had four tackles and a sack vs. Utah State and six tackles, including a TFL at Penn State.

Shanle, the only returning starter in NU?s linebacking corps, has also made a big impact. He returned a blocked punt for a touchdown to give NU a 24-3 advantage in the third quarter against Arizona State and was NU?s leading tackler with seven stops against Utah State. He has 16 tackles in 2002.

Senior center John Garrison has been named to the preseason watch list for the Outland Trophy and the Rimington Award, given annually to the nation's top center. The award is named in honor of former Husker Dave Rimington, a two-time Outland Trophy winner. Garrison is the leader of a re-tooled offensive line that features three first-year starters, but has NU leading the Big 12 in rushing at 255.5 yards per game.

Junior punter Kyle Larson continues to prove he is one of the nation?s best, averaging 47.2 yards on 21 punts this season to rank third in the nation in punting average. Larson boomed four punts for a 57.3-yard average vs. Utah State, just off the single-game school record. Larson is one of 34 punters on the Ray Guy preseason watch list. For a full listing of Husker players on preseason watch lists, please see the left column on page 6.

Poll Position
Nebraska opened the 2002 season ranked in the Associated Press preseason top 25 for the 33rd consecutive season. The Huskers were ranked No. 10 in this year?s AP preseason listing, the 10th consecutive season Nebraska has opened in the Top 10. The Huskers were ranked eighth in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches preseason poll.

Nebraska?s AP preseason ranking was its lowest since opening at No. 11 in 1992, but marked the fifth straight season under Solich that NU was in the preseason top 10. Under Solich, Nebraska?s loftiest preseason ranking came in 2000, when the Huskers were listed first in both AP and coaches polls.

Nebraska fell out of the top 10 in both polls last week following its 40-7 loss at Penn State. The poll demotion ended a streak of 54 straight AP polls in which NU had been ranked in the top 10.

The Huskers are 20th in the Associated Press poll this week and No. 19 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll. Nebraska is one of six ranked Big 12 teams, joining Oklahoma (2 AP/3 Coaches), Texas (3/2), Kansas State (15/17), Iowa State (19/21) and Texas A&M (24/NR). Colorado received votes in both polls this week. Penn State used its win over Nebraska to leap in the polls and is now 12th in both polls.

Three Seniors Serving as 2002 Team Captains
Three seniors were elected team captains by their teammates before the start of the season?center John Garrison, rush end Chris Kelsay and cornerback DeJuan Groce.

Kelsay is the second member of his family to serve as a Nebraska football captain, joining his brother, Chad, a captain on Solich?s first team in 1998. The Kelsays are the fifth brother combination in school history to serve as team captains, joining Mike (1983) and Andy Keeler (1988), Erik (1991) and Zach Wiegert (1994), Christian (1995) and Jason Peter (1997) and Grant (1997) and Tracey Wistrom (2001). The 2002 campaign marks the first season Nebraska has had only three captains since the 1987 campaign. The Huskers had five captains a year ago and six in 2000.

Nebraska Personnel/Injury Update
Nebraska continues to go through the early portion of its schedule in good health. The Huskers did not suffer any major injuries against Penn State.

Nebraska suffered a pair of injuries in its defensive line earlier this season. Senior nose tackle Jason Lohr went down with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in Nebraska's final scrimmage on Aug. 16. Lohr, who underwent surgery on Aug. 23, is lost for the year after missing the final 10 games of last season with an LCL tear in the same knee. In NU's victory over Arizona State, reserve defensive tackle Jared Helming also tore the ACL in his left knee and is out for the season.

Also on the defensive side, the middle linebacker spot has been hit with injuries. No. 2 Mike ?backer Chad Sievers missed Nebraska?s opener because of a knee strain, then returned to action against Troy State. Sievers then missed the Utah State contest to rest a sore abdominal muscle, but played vs. Penn State. No. 1 Mike linebacker Barrett Ruud broke his left hand against Troy State, but returned to action later in the contest and has played the past two games with a cast.

I-back Thunder Collins will complete his four-game suspension against Iowa State. After failing to comply with NCAA regulations, Collins was ruled ineligible and according to NCAA guidelines will sit out a total of four games. Collins' suspension started with the Troy State game. Offensive tackle Richie Incognito was ejected from the Penn State game for fighting and is suspended for the first half vs. ISU.

Nebraska Boasts Big 12-Best 35 Players on Opening Day NFL Rosters
Nebraska remains among the nation?s leaders in supplying talent to the National Football League. In fact, the Huskers had a Big 12-best 45 players in 2002 NFL training camps and 35 of those players still find themselves on 2002 rosters. A full listing can be found in the left margin of this page.

Among Nebraska?s notable alumni on NFL rosters are 10-year veteran offensive guard Will Shields of the Kansas City Chiefs, who has appeared in seven consecutive Pro Bowls. Green Bay?s Ahman Green finished fourth in the NFL in rushing last season with 1,387 yards, while St. Louis defensive end Grant Wistrom has been a key component in a Ram defense that has helped the team to the Super Bowl in two of the last three years.

Since 1994, Nebraska has had 53 players selected in the NFL Draft, the third-most of any school in the nation and tops among Big 12 Conference schools.

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