Nebraska, Penn St. QBs face fans' wrath
Saturday, September 13, 2003
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Penn State's Zack Mills and Nebraska's Jammal Lord have two things in common entering tonight's game.
They are their teams' starting quarterbacks, and vociferous fans for both teams wish they weren't.
Mills was a golden boy two years ago when he was backing up Matt Senneca. He came off the bench to lead three comeback wins, and he set the school freshman passing record.
Mills was outstanding in passing for 259 yards in last year's 40-7 win over Nebraska, but tailed off toward the end of the season, completing only 46.6 percent of passes for less than 200 yards in each of his last five games.
As the Nittany Lions' offense has struggled through the first two games this year, there have been calls for backup Michael Robinson to replace Mills.
Mills was booed for the first time last week at home during a 27-14 loss to Boston College.
"That's part of the game and how it is here," Mills said. "When Senneca was here, they booed him and wanted to put me in. So when things aren't going well for the offense in general, that's the first place they're going to look for a change. It's just how it is."
At Nebraska, fans and media have been enamored with true freshman Joe Dailey, who made his debut in the second half of last week's game against Utah State.
Lord was at the controls for last year's 7-7 season -- the program's worst in 41 years -- and despite the coaches' reports of his improvement over the spring and preseason, the senior quarterback does not appear much better as a passer.
The coaching staff is standing behind Lord as the starter -- for now -- but they acknowledge that Dailey is beginning to push him.
Lord and Dailey declined interview requests this week.
"Our biggest concern going into this deal was not to create a quarterback controversy," offensive coordinator Barney Cotton said. "We want to have two experienced quarterbacks. We want game experience for our backup."
Old rivals meet again
Elsewhere in the Big 12, old Southwest Conference rivals Arkansas andTexas renew their long-dormant series in Austin. It's their first meeting during the regular season since 1991.
That's one of four Big 12 games against teams from BCS conferences.
No. 17 Colorado (2-0) is host to Washington State, the Pac-10 representative in last year's Rose Bowl; No. 18 Nebraska (2-0) plays Penn State of the Big Ten; and Iowa State (2-0) is at home to face No. 23 Iowa, the defending Big Ten champion.
In other Big 12 games today: No. 1 Oklahoma (2-0) against Fresno State; No. 7 Kansas State (3-0) plays Massachusetts; Missouri (2-0) vs. Eastern Illinois; Oklahoma State (1-1) against Southwest Missouri; and Baylor (0-2) plays SMU.