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Volume 68, Issue 20, Monday, September 23, 2002

Sports
 

Hurt knee costs frosh chance to shine

Geronimo Rodriguez
The Daily Cougar

When redshirt freshman Barrick Nealy walked off the field in the season opener against Rice Aug. 31, Cougar fans may have felt theyid just watched college footballis latest phenomenon.

But when the Dallas native then limped off Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday in the midst of a battle against No.3-ranked Texas (2-0), Cougar fans were hit with a different feeling. This one all but wiped away any hope of slapping the Longhorns with their first loss of the season.

The feeling was not fueled by a lack of confidence in the Cougar defense, which put up a worthy fight, despite the 41-11 score, or that junior Nick Eddy wasnit capable of leading the Cougars (2-1, 0-1 in conference) to pay dirt.



Redshirt freshman quarterback Barrick Nealy sits in the sideline after being taken out of Saturdayis game in the second half.

Kevin Harwerth/The Daily Cougar

But to have a talented freshman who rejuvenated the Cougar football team from the throes of last season on the sideline was, in a word, devastating.

Not only did the Longhorn defense have one less threat to worry about, but also the Cougar offense had not established anything by the time Nealy left the game.

By missing the latter part of the game, Nealy missed a chance to shine in one of the biggest games of his short college career. But, with his given talent, Nealy could find his way back to a game of this caliber.

Nealy, who suffered a bruised right knee just last week in a 36-17 rout against Louisiana-Lafayette, aggravated the injury on the Cougarsi third play in Saturdayis game.

The freshman, who also had five rushes for three yards, lost the ball just before the end of the second quarter, which was recovered by junior center Al James, and limped to the sideline.

After the UL-L game, Nealy said the injury was "nothing major," but the freshman would not return for the second half of play against UT.

Against the Texas defense, Nealy completed four-of-seven passes for 18 yards. UTis junior free safety Dakarai Pearson intercepted one of Nealyis passes with 47 seconds left in the first half.

Junior Nick Eddy, who competed against Nealy up until the start of the season for the quarterback position, completed 10-of-20 passes for 103 yards and ran the ball for a one-yard touchdown.

As for Nealy returning to the starting position for the coming game, Cougar head coach Dana Dimel said the question shouldnit even be raised.

Unless his knee injury worsens, Nealy will lead the Cougars against Conference USA-rival Texas Christian on Oct. 5 at Carter Stadium in Fort Worth.

For now, Nealy and the Cougars will have to wait to muster an upset against one of the nationis top teams. Until then, Nealy will continue to mature as he experiences the growing pangs every starting freshman quarterback faces.

 Send comments to dcsports@mail.uh.edu

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