Tom's Time
Photo Credit: Nebraska Athletics

Tom’s Time: Huskers Open Up the Offense Against KU in 1994

December 02, 2021
And so it came to pass, sort of.
Brook Berringer passed for 249 yards and two touchdowns against Kansas in 1994—in the first half. He threw only 10 passes, completing eight.
That opened up the running game.
I-back Lawrence Phillips rushed for 118 yards and a touchdown—in the third quarter.
The game was effectively out-of-hand at the intermission. Nebraska led 38-10 on the way to a 45-17 victory, the Huskers’ 10th in a row.
Tom Osborne’s intention had been to open up the running game with the pass and take some pressure off Berringer in the process. Though Berringer was capable of running, he had come back from a collapsed lung. Plus, of course, Tommie Frazier was sidelined, leaving walk-ons Matt Turman and Monte Christo as the back-ups. That’s how the depth chart looked, with Clester Johnson at No. 4.
Johnson, a high school quarterback, had moved to wingback, remember.
Berringer “carried” only four times against Kansas for a net of minus-1 yard. He was sacked twice, including on the first play of the game.
He had earned Big Eight Offensive Player of the Week honors after leading the Huskers to No. 1 in the Associated Press poll with a 24-7 victory against Colorado, completing 12-of-17 passes for 142 yards. That wasn’t as many yards as in the first half against Kansas.
Berringer would finish 13-of-18 for 267 yards and the two touchdowns.
Times were different then, as is almost always the case. With the 267 passing yards, Berringer tied Dave Humm for the 7th most in Husker history. As a sophomore, Humm had completed 15-of-22 for 267 yards and three touchdowns in a 62-0 victory against Missouri in mid-October of 1972.
Frank Patrick, who would be moved to tight end as a senior, held the school record for passing yards at the time, completing 22-of-40 for 290 yards and two touchdowns in a 21-14 loss to Oklahoma as a sophomore in 1967. He also threw four interceptions in the game to finish the season with 13.
Patrick also finished the season with a school-record 1,479 passing yards. But interceptions were a problem that would lead to his switching positions to tight end in 1969.
Humm’s 267 passing yards ranked third at the time; Jerry Tagge’s 285 yards on 20-of-28 completions against Kansas State in 1971 ranked second.
Humm would break Patrick’s record in late September of 1973, completing 25-of-36 for 297 yards and two touchdowns—with two interceptions—in a 20-12 victory against Wisconsin.
Humm’s record would hold until mid-October of 2004, Bill Callahan’s first season, when Joe Dailey completed 13-of-20 passes for 342 yards in a 59-27 victory against Baylor. Dailey would also throw for more than 300 yards (306) against Colorado in a 26-20 loss in the final game that season.
As noted, times—and offenses—have changed since Berringer threw for 267 yards against Kansas.
His performance doesn’t even rank among the top 50 all-time at Nebraska. That list is dominated by Joe Ganz, Tommie Armstrong Jr. and Zac Taylor. Ganz holds the record, completing 30-of-40 passes for 510 yards and seven touchdowns (also a record) in a 73-31 victory against Kansas State in mid-November of 2007—Callahan’s final season. The Wildcats didn’t intercept Ganz.
Free safety Tony Veland and cornerback Tyrone Williams ignited Nebraska against Kansas in 1994, intercepting Asheiki Preston passes on the Jayhawks’ first two possessions, setting up Tom Sieler’s 35-yard field goal and the first of Berringer’s touchdown passes, a 51-yarder to split end Reggie Baul.
Berringer’s second touchdown pass, a 64-yarder, went to Johnson, who was back at wingback.
Rover Kareem Moss led the Blackshirts with 11 tackles, including a sack. Freshman outside linebacker Grant Wistrom and middle linebacker Doug Colman also had sacks.
The Huskers had allowed only 23 points, total, in their first four Big Eight games.
Kansas, which scored 17, ran one more play than Nebraska and had a slight advantage in time of possession. But the Jayhawks managed only 270 yards of offense to Nebraska’s 603.
Phillips finished with 153 yards rushing, 12 more than Kansas, and two touchdowns.
The Huskers punted only three times, including a career-long 68-yarder by Darin Erstad.
Berringer could’ve broken Humm’s single-game record of 297 passing yards if tight end Eric Alford had held onto a pass “I should’ve caught,” said Alford, who was wide-open with room to run.
Berringer could’ve played for pass-oriented programs such as those at Miami, Florida State and Florida, according to Alford. But he picked Nebraska. And against Kansas, he showed, with a relative handful of passes, how dangerous his passing could be.
Next: Struggling with hapless Iowa State again
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