Dailey to fans: One game does not a season make

Wednesday, October 13th 2004, 3:00 pm
By: News On 6

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) Whether it's been at a restaurant downtown or as he walks around campus, Nebraska quarterback Joe Dailey says everybody has offered him encouragement in the days following the 60-point loss to Texas Tech.

But Dailey isn't oblivious to fans who are blowing off steam about the ineffectiveness of the offense, the ineptness of the defense and the otherwise shoddy performance of the Cornhuskers in the worst loss in program history.

``How can you turn your back on a team that went 10-3 last year?'' Dailey said. ``Everyone wants to (complain) that it's a transition year. Well, that's exactly what it is. That doesn't mean we're going to lose every game just because it's a transition year.''

Dailey, benched late in the third quarter of the 70-10 loss, said he remains confident in first-year coach Bill Callahan's West Coast offense. The sophomore from Jersey City, N.J., also said he remains confident in himself.

For his part, Callahan said Dailey is in no danger of losing his starting job even though backup Beau Davis has been getting an increasing number of practice snaps with the No. 1 offense.

Dailey, with his 12 interceptions and 51-percent completion rate, is the most visible example of the struggle Callahan has had implementing a pass-heavy offense with players who were recruited for the triple-option.

The Huskers are in the bottom half of the Big 12 in scoring, passing, total offense and third-down conversions. They rank 116th out of 117 Division I-A teams in turnover margin.

Dailey was replaced by Davis in the Tech game with the Huskers down 35-10. Callahan said he hoped Davis could provide a spark. Davis had four of his eight passes intercepted, and he lost a fumble.

``It's never good to sit on the sideline and watch your team get demolished,'' Dailey said. ``But at the same time, I picked up something from that as well.''

Dailey said immediately after the game he thought he had lost ``credibility'' with the coaching staff after a flat performance in the previous week's 14-8 win over Kansas. He backed away from that comment this week, saying it was made in the heat of the moment.

Callahan said Dailey never should have felt that way.

``We have total confidence in Joe's ability to step up and provide leadership at that position,'' Callahan said. ``We've just encouraged him to do the best he can.''

Offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said Dailey is capable of understanding and executing what is being coached. It's just a matter of time, he said.

``Sometimes in certain failures you're closer to where you want to be than people realize,'' Norvell said. ``In my mind, that's where we're going.''

Dailey said he isn't so much frustrated with the offense as impatient.

``A lot of times on Saturday, the plays were there and we were just one play away from getting a new series of downs and going on about our business,'' he said.

Nebraska (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) has reason for some optimism with Baylor (2-3, 0-2) coming to town Saturday. The Huskers have beaten the Bears four times by a combined 205-28 since the inception of the Big 12 in 1996.

Dailey said he hopes to see the Huskers do a 180-degree turn from last week.

``There's nothing we can do now but go out and beat a team by the biggest margin, maybe 120-0,'' he said.