Solich and Cornhuskers not overlooking Troy State

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 29, 2001

Sports Editor

Troy State will set foot on Memorial Stadium’s Tom Osborne Field in Lincoln on Saturday, unranked, unknown and unaware of what to expect, other then over 75,000 screaming Nebraska fans and a battle against a team deadset on winning a 2001 National Championship.

In his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Cornhuskers’ head coach Frank Solich admitted that the Trojans were still a virtual mystery to he and his staff.

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"We know very little about them," Solich said, whose fourth Nebraska team began the season by beating TCU 21-7 on Saturday. "We do not have an opportunity to see them play against very many Division 1-A teams, so consequently the film that we get is from teams whose offenses are not very similar to ours. They (TSU) are a little tough to breakdown on that end as far as what to expect."

The Trojans have a limited, but impressive history against 1-A schools. Troy State holds a 9-3 record over Division 1-A opponents since moving to 1-AA in 1993. But the Trojan teams that won those nine games were a bit more conservative on offense. Solich’s job became a tad bit more difficult when TSU offensive coordinator John Shannon implemented the "Trojan Spread" in the spring.

"From the defensive standpoint, we have to prepare for just about everything," said Solich. "I’m sure there will be a lot of four wideouts with no back, so we expect a heavy emphasis on the passing game."

Solich also had concerns over the Trojans’ overall team speed and singled out TSU tailback Demontray Carter especially.

"You look at their I-back (Carter), I think he’s a great player with great speed and he could play anywhere," Solich said. "He’s got great quickness, he can accelerate against the cuts. He’s a guy that made some big plays against great competition."

Troy State’s main task will be stopping the Cornhuskers stable of running backs, led by returning starter Dahrran Diedrick. Diedrick was suspended for the ‘Huskers opener on Saturday, but fellow junior Thunder Collins filled in amply, rushing for 71 yards on 14 carries to go along with two touchdowns.

But Diedrick’s return gives Solich a 6-foot, 225-pound jackhammer to hurl repeatedly at the Trojans’ defense. By contrast, Collins is taller then his fellow I-back at 6-foot-2, but weighs 35 pounds less at 190.

Nebraska was held to 151 yards rushing against TCU, but Solich blamed that on the lack of consistent blocking by his offensive line, not his starting tailback’s absence.

"Dahrran is a big, strong, physical running back and so when you bring him into the mix, he is going to do a great job of getting yards after contact," Solich said. "But we need to do a better job of getting things blocked at the point of contact better and at the line of scrimmage."

Since 1973, Nebraska has lost just 13 of 232 games to unranked opponents and only 10 games total in the last eight years. They’ve won 49 of their last 50 home games and three national titles (’94, ’95, ’97) in four years.

Winning has become a virtual automatic for the ‘Huskers, especially against lower tier 1-A teams like Troy State.

But Solich refuses to look past the Trojans, especially to next Saturday’s opponent, Notre Dame.

"No on has talked about Notre Dame at this point," he said. "I think that the players and the coaches would be disappointed if we were talking anything else other than Troy State. It is going to be important to how they (his players) play the game. The key it to play good football."