Trev Alberts played a significant role in Nebraska’s move to a 4-3 base defense, and the second game of the 1993 season against Texas Tech illustrated why.
The Huskers were without I-back Calvin Jones, who had suffered a knee injury in the third quarter of the opener against Division II North Texas, and quarterback Tommie Frazier was slowed by a right-ankle sprain that had sent him to the sideline two plays into the opener.
He estimated that he was only at 85%. He couldn’t run options.
After trailing 20-14 at halftime, Texas Tech recovered a third-quarter Frazier fumble at the Nebraska 26-yard line and on the first play, connected on a 26-yard touchdown pass.
With the extra-point kick, the Red Raiders led with 8:37 remaining in the quarter.
Nebraska responded with an 11-play, 68-yard drive capped by Byron Bennett’s 29-yard field goal, the third of three, in three attempts, he would kick that afternoon.
The others had been from 41 and 45 yards.
On the third play of Tech’s next series, Alberts broke through and knocked the ball free from scrambling Red Raider quarterback Robert Hall. Darren Williams recovered at the Tech 23-yard line, and five plays later, Frazier passed 5 yards to tight end Gerald Armstrong for a touchdown.
Then Tyrone Williams recovered a mishandled kickoff at the Red Raider 5-yard line. Fullback Cory Schlesinger gained 3 yards up the middle, and Damon Benning, who started in place of the injured Jones, took a pitch from Frazier and carried into the end zone.
In 3:26, Nebraska went from a one-point deficit to a 14-point lead.
The fumble forced by Alberts had ignited the surge. The senior outside linebacker would finish the 50-27 victory with four sacks for 21 yards in losses and a team-high 11 tackles.
By game’s end, he had nothing left, Alberts said.
Alberts would have at least one sack in all but two games in 1993, including three in the Orange Bowl, and finish with 15 (bowl totals weren’t included), tying the school single-season record held by defensive tackle Jim Skow (1983-85) and breaking the career record, also held by Skow.
Alberts had 29.5 career sacks, Skow 26. Alberts would lead the 1993 team in tackles-for-loss, 45 for 242 yards, and total tackles, 96, finishing seventh on that Nebraska career list.
In addition to earning consensus All-America honors, he won the Butkus Award and was the Big Eight Defensive Player of the Year, as well as a finalist for national Defensive Player of the Year.
Alberts was an Academic All-American and the Big Eight Male Athlete of the Year.
And in 2015, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
On this afternoon, however, the senior co-captain—along with defensive tackle Kevin Ramaekers, cornerback John Reece, offensive tackle Lance Lundberg, and Armstrong—was leading the Blackshirts, who continued to adapt to the 4-3 base alignment.
Alberts’ four sacks were among nine by the aggressive Blackshirts, for 55 yards in losses.
Benning and freshman Lawrence Phillips, who hadn’t played in the opener, effectively filled in for Jones. Benning carried 19 times for 127 yards and two touchdowns, including the game’s first, a 45-yarder. Phillips carried 14 times for 80 yards and one touchdown, a 30-yarder.
Jeff Makovicka scored the final touchdown, also on a 30-yard run, with 1:38 remaining.
Frazier scored the other touchdown from 1 yard out.
Brook Berringer saw only brief action, giving Frazier a breather with 5:49 remaining in the first quarter. Frazier returned in the second quarter, and Berringer, who was bothered by an elbow problem that affected his passing, wouldn’t play again until late in the game.
Tony Veland gave Frazier a breather in the second quarter, getting a predetermined series. He lasted only three plays, however, suffering a ruptured kneecap that ended his season. When he was able to return to action the next season, Veland would be a safety.
Ben Rutz was sidelined by injury, and would be for a third game, leaving only redshirt freshman Matt Turman, a walkon, as a healthy back-up at quarterback, prompting Osborne to say he couldn’t remember a time when the Huskers had been so “disjointed” there.
As the season progressed, the Huskers might look back at the Texas Tech game as a turning point, Alberts said. Next up for Nebraska, which climbed from No. 9 to No. 8 in the Associated Press poll, was a trip to unranked UCLA. The same could be said of what happened in Pasadena.