Maury White: Huskers avoid “dark” day

LINCOLN, NEB. No question as to who did a terrible job early last week. It was the person or person who established Nebraska as a 24-point favorite over Missouri in a series that rivals the feuds of dogs vs. cats, Hatfields vs. McCoys and germs vs. penicillin. Two sources of potential embarrassment were avoided here Saturday, both by margins even more narrow than you might conclude. No. 1, of course, was that, after trailing most of the game, the Huskers pulled it out, 23-19. No. 2 was that they did it before daylight expired, or even ran so low that the people who televised this game regionally for ABC didn’t run out of enough light for the camera, even though Musco was missing. . The Musco mobile lighting folks from Oskaloosa, la., came here to set up early in the week, for the customary fee of $50,000. But, because network and school officials decided the daylight would endure long enough even though the starting time was reset for 2:50 p.m., the Iowans were given $10,000 and sent home with their lights. The sun was a little late in shining here Saturday in two ways, and you may be sure there were many sighs of relief about 2 p.m. when 01′ Sol broke through the cloud cover and furnished enough light for the 6 p.m. windup. . The day brightened considerably for in-house Husker fans late in the final period when Mike Rozier, a wounded I-back who couldn’t even walk properly as late as Wednesday, came along to finally get a ground attack going and allow third-string fullback Mark Schellen to dive for a go-ahead touchdown. Shortly thereafter, following an in-tereception, reserve quarterback Bruce Mathison ran a yard for what proved to be the winning points. “It was really a very, very tough game,” Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne said after it was over. “I don’t know if we’re good enough to win this league.” On Saturday’s performance, it won’t be a cakewalk if they do. .! s ANOTHER SOURCE of potential embarrassment was avoided when Osborne and his troops decided to clam up on a play in which quarterback Turner Gill suffered a concussion and missed part of the second quarter and all of the second half. V Gill had handed off on a running play, but Randy Jostes, a large defensive tackle who hails from Omaha of all places, came charging with the finesse of a bulldozer and apparently ran over the top of the quarterback, his huge arms meetikng up with Gill’s head and shoulders. “I would rather Turner Gill played the whole game. If the quarterback carries out the fake, we have to honor it,” Jostes said after the game. “Nebraska players were great Sportsmen.” tGill, who furnishes a great deal of the fireworks in the Husker attack, was taken to the bench and sat the rest of the half with bead down and ice bag on his neck. Then he was helped into the dressing room and tas taken to a hospital for examination and observation. It was obviously a late hit, but there was no penalty. Mathison, a five-yen senior who never previously lias worked under this type of pressure, had to come through. And he did, thanks to Rozier and some speedy kick returning. The next stage, after the annual bloodbath had ended, was to find out if Osborne was going to tackle the matter publicly. He isn’t, or at least wasn’t, in the first go-around. t i’m not going to have anything to say about it,” he softly said. “I’ve heard what people have said about the replays, but we’ve gone through this before. I make a weekly report on the officials and will do it this week’ Warren Powers, the Missouri coach, is a former Kusker star and assistant coach and there seems to be a very lukewarm friendship, if even that, with Osborne. Tom made it a point to mention that Powers never shows up to shake hands after the two teams meet. Powers is well informed of Husker reaction, though. As his team left the field and came into the dressing room, a fan yelled, “Cheap shot, Powers. Cheap shot.” The coach bristled and said a word that makes a fellow think he was reading Joaquin Andujar’s lips Wednesday night during a rhubarb late in the seventh game of the World Series. Others in the Tiger party intervened. Fortunately. THE HUSKERS came into the game with a 5-1 record and No. 5 ranking in the Associated Press poll, and went against a team that was 3-1-2 after playing successive no-decision contests, the last against Iowa State. What went on display, though, was not the real Nebraska football team. While there has been a rumor that Coach Tom Osborne has an endless supply of I-backs, this is not so. Rozier, who had amassed more than 200 yards in the previous two games, rang up 139 in 17 tries as a pinch-hitter in a game he wouldn’t have played in if not badly needed. Roger Craig, the Davenport senior who moved from fullback to start at I-back, was going great for about five carries until re-injuring an ankle. Then he was gone for the day. Young Jeff Smith had to play a lot. “We talked about starting Rozier and he wanted to start, but we decided it would be bad psychology if he was hurt and done for good after about two plays. So we decided to put him in at what we thought was the right time and see what Mike could do. “It’s pretty obvious what he can do make things happen.” At this point, the Huskers are not the super team they seemed destined to be in the opener against Iowa, partly because their defense is not that good and partly because so many offensive stars are banged up. Missouri is a tough, physical defensive team that has a decent passing attack but suffers badly from not being able produce as much as needed on the ground.