Sept. 13, 2004 wire reports

OMAHA, Neb. -- Take away the glut of turnovers, and Bill Callahan says Nebraska's transition from the triple-option to the West Coast offense has gone smoothly.


"If you have a system as a head coach coming into a new environment and culture, you can do it," Callahan said Monday during a conference call. "I feel very confident and secure making that comment because of what we've accomplished just in the two games we've been out there."

Callahan said the Cornhuskers (1-1) have proved they have not sold out to the pass, as some thought would happen.

The Huskers still are a top-10 rushing team, ranking seventh nationally at 318.5 yards a game. They are 64th nationally in passing yards at 210 a game. Their run-pass ratio is nearly even, with 68 rushing attempts and 73 pass attempts.

"When people look at the box score, they're going to say, 'Oh, boy, Nebraska made this transition from the option to the forward pass and have all of a sudden just abandoned the run and are throwing the ball all over. But that's not true," said Callahan, in his first season with Nebraska.

The main sticking point has been the play of quarterback Joe Dailey. The sophomore has thrown seven interceptions in two games and ranks last in the Big 12 in passing efficiency.

"We've struggled at quarterback, make no doubt about it," Callahan said. "There has been plenty of opportunities to do some positive things, and we've struggled. We've turned it over unnecessarily and at untimely times, and it hurt our ability to sustain and endure late into the fourth quarter of this past game."

Callahan said part of the reason for the relatively easy shift to the West Coast offense is that his assistants are familiar with the system.

Offensive coordinator Jay Norvell was an assistant under Callahan with the Oakland Raiders before coming to Nebraska, and running backs coach Randy Jordan played in the system for the Raiders.

Callahan also praised the work of offensive line coach Dennis Wagner, who came to Nebraska from Fresno State.

"Wags had that line at Fresno, and now they're sitting there 2-0 beating two top-ranked teams like Washington and Kansas State, and that was his crew," Callahan said.

Callahan hopes to see his team take better care of the ball Saturday at Pittsburgh. The Huskers turned over the ball five times in the 21-17 loss to Southern Mississippi, with Dailey intercepted three times. The Huskers led 17-9 late in the third quarter.

"We need to learn how to finish a team off," Callahan said. "We had excellent field position provided by our defense, but we didn't seal the deal. When you have opportunities like that, it's important to finish out on a strong note."

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2004, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved