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No. 5 Nebraska Knows Mistakes Must Go

October 22, 1996

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ Running back Damon Benning shook his head and smiled while contemplating the mistakes No. 5 Nebraska made in its haphazard win over Texas Tech.

``There are just some days,″ Benning said, ``when you would rather be lucky than good.″

Nebraska (5-1, 3-0 Big 12) had just six turnovers going into the 24-10 victory over Texas Tech. Against the Red Raiders (4-3, 3-2) the Cornhuskers had seven fumbles, lost four of them and saw an interception of a pass by Scott Frost returned for a TD.

Even Benning’s 3-yard scoring run in the fourth period was punctuated by his recovery of his own fumble.

And Nebraska was flagged for 11 penalties for 99 yards.

``I don’t think it’s anything anybody should get accustomed to seeing out there,″ Benning said in predicting the errors would diminish.

Coach Tom Osborne said he expected the Huskers to play well against Kansas (3-3, 1-2) this week, but smiled while declining to say he was comfortable with Nebraska’s progress.

``I guess I don’t feel real comfortable playing anybody right now,″ he said.

The outcome at Texas Tech probably turned on Nebraska’s kicking game, Osborne said. Punter Jesse Kosh averaged 48 yards per kick, Kris Brown kicked a 39-yard field goal and Nebraska did well in returning punts while stalling the Red Raiders’ returns. Linebacker Jon Hesse, named Big 12 defensive player of the week, blocked a punt.

Benning set up his fourth quarter TD with a 51-yard punt return.

At halftime, Benning said, the Huskers knew they had to regroup.

``We knew we’d shot ourselves in the foot and we were running out of toes,″ he said.

It was reminiscent of Nebraska’s losing performance last month against Arizona State when the Huskers lost 19-0 and were knocked from the No. 1 spot in the rankings. The loss also dimmed Nebraska’s hopes for a third straight national title.

Osborne said some of the miscues surprised him.

``I thought we’d kind of gotten past our execution problems ... then all of a sudden the wheels come off!″ Osborne said.

Even though the Huskers defense did a good job overall, holding running back Byron Hanspard to 107 yards rushing, half his season average, Nebraska kept five Texas Tech drives going with penalties, Osborne said.

And Nebraska’s cause was helped when the Red Raiders missed opportunities to capitalize on their passing game, he said.

His players know more consistency is needed on both sides of the ball, Osborne said.

``I think they’re concerned enough that we had their full attention″ at practice Monday, he said.

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