Nebraska's Craver Speaking Up Before Final Game

Dec 30, 2001

AP Sports Writer

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) – Nebraska cornerback Keyuo Craver’s quiet days areover.

And anybody who doesn’t believe that need only listen to Craver’s halftimespeech during Nebraska’s only loss of the season.

“I don’t hold my tongue as much as I used to. If I see we need to work onsomething I’m going to let it be heard,” Craver said Sunday outside the RoseBowl, where Nebraska will play top-ranked Miami on Thursday.

So what did the defensive co-captain say at halftime during the Cornhuskers’62-36 loss at Colorado?

“I couldn’t repeat it,” Craver said. “I just said we were getting ourbutts handed to us and we were getting kicked up and down the field. I didn’tcome here to lose and we needed to change things around.”

That’s the PG version, but Craver’s point was clear: The Huskers weren’tdoing the things that won the first 11 games of the season.

That can’t happen Thursday when Nebraska (11-1) plays Miami (11-0) if theHuskers want to win a sixth national title.

Craver, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound senior from Texas, is long past any shynesshe felt playing in the shadow of veteran defensive backs Mike and Ralph Brownas a freshman in 1998.

That seems like a very long time ago.

“I don’t ever want to compare one guy to another, but he’s a guy that’sdone a tremendous amount for the team. He’s accomplished a great deal,”secondary coach George Darlington said.

Darlington, in his 29th season on Nebraska staff, has seen plenty of playerscome through Nebraska. Although he won’t compare Craver to any of the pastHuskers, Craver’s statistics take care of that on their own.

Craver didn’t bother with a redshirt as a freshman and played in each gameas the Huskers went 8-4. He had the coveted “Blackshirt,” which goes only toNebraska’s starting defenders and a select few reserves, before the season wasover and took over as a starter as a sophomore in 1999.

Craver has 192 career tackles, seven interceptions – including three thisseason – and is second in Nebraska history with 41 pass break-ups. This yearhis 60 tackles are the third most on the team.

He’s scored touchdowns on an interception and two blocked punts in hiscareer and returned 21 punts for 246 yards this season.

“He’s been a player that we’ve asked to do a tremendous amount of things.He’s blocked kicks. He’s returned kicks. He’s played in the secondary. He’s avery multitalented guy,” Darlington said. “We’ve asked him to be involved ina tremendous number of different activities. He’s never balked at doing any ofit.”

Craver isn’t concerned with where he is on the field, as long as it’splaying. He has started 38 straight games, but knows his 39th will be by farthe one he remembers most.

“This is the national title game. Your goal is to win that ring,” he said.

Craver is enjoying life in the Los Angeles area. He’s been to Disneyland, aLakers game, got a picture and a hug from actress Heather Locklear and shookhands with Lakers center Shaquille O’Neal.

“I came up to his belly button so everybody was laughing at me, but itdoesn’t matter because I got to shake his hand,” Craver said.

He also heard a few rounds of “boos” as the Huskers were introduced to thecrowd and shown on the big screen at the Laker game, a reminder that Nebraskais not necessarily the most popular choice to play the Hurricanes.

The controversy that exploded when the Bowl Championship Series put Nebraskain the title game despite the Huskers’ embarrassing loss to close the seasonhasn’t gone away.

Neither are the Huskers, Craver said.

“I think we needed something like that. We got our butts kicked and we’renot as good as we may have thought we were,” Craver said. “Having a negativething like that happen and the way that it happened, you can’t even explain it.I got on our players and I got on myself.

“Nobody’s going to lay down because we have this ‘N’ on our helmet.”