Jayhawk defense impresses NU coach

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Given a rare Saturday off, first-year Nebraska football coach Bill Callahan was able to scout his next two opponents.

Callahan, whose Cornhuskers play host to Kansas University on Saturday night in their Big 12 Conference opener before traveling to Texas Tech the following week, watched Fox Sports Net's broadcast of Tech's 31-30 victory at KU.

"It's just great to hear the commentators talk and visit about the coaches and players," said Callahan, who spent the previous nine years in the NFL. "It allows me to get familiarized in some respects."

Of course, Nebraska's staff won't base its gameplans for either foe on TV alone. Game films show the whole field, while much of a televised game is focused on the ball.

"On television, you can only see so much," said Callahan, the former Oakland Raiders coach. "You don't get a real full picture of the back end and the perimeter. A lot that you see is quick and distorted."

During Monday morning's Big 12 coaches teleconference, Callahan said he already had seen enough of the Jayhawks (2-2 overall, 0-1 Big 12) to know their defense was improved from last season. KU is allowing an average of 17 points per game.

"I'm really impressed with Kansas," said Callahan, whose team is 2-1. "The thing that's striking to me is where they stand on defense. The job they've done on third down has just been incredible. Their third-down efficiency and their third-down package has been great."

KU's defense ranks second in the conference in third-down efficiency. Opponents have converted only 15 of 59 attempts (25.4). Nebraska's offense is seventh in the conference in third-down conversions at 38.5 percent (15 of 39).

The Jayhawks rank 11th in the conference and 100th in the nation with an average of 102.2 rushing yards per game.

"We need to be consistent for four quarters and not just play a half," KU coach Mark Mangino said. "We need to run the ball better; there's no question. Some of that has to do with our offensive line. We just need to get better."

Big 12 contests selected for network television Oct. 9 are Oklahoma-Texas (11 a.m., ABC), Oklahoma State-Colorado (2:30 p.m., ABC), Nebraska-Texas Tech (6 p.m., TBS) and Missouri-Baylor (9 p.m., Fox Sports).

Kansas University's football game at Nebraska will be available on pay-per-view through Sunflower Broadband. A digital box is required to receive the signal. The cost is $29.95. To order, call 841-2100. Kickoff will be at 6:10 p.m.