var uslide_show_id = "ea19e31e-7725-4d7d-962a-bd23bd9445d3";var slideshowwidth = "350";var linktext = "Click here to view the slideshow from the Nebraska vs. Kansas State game.";
MANHATTAN, Kan. - It wasn't the result Josh Freeman was hoping for in his first of four potential meetings with Nebraska, but despite his team's loss, the true freshman's performance drew solid reviews from his head coach and teammates.
In only his second career start, the quarterback from Kansas City, Mo., completed 23 of 47 passes for 272 yards but with no touchdowns and two interceptions in Nebraska's 21-3 win.
If anything, the feeling following NU's first victory in Manhattan since 1996 was that Freeman's supporting cast wasn't supportive enough to put the Wildcats in a position to get the win.
"(Freeman) had to make a number of spectacular individual efforts to complete some passes and make some plays," Kansas State Coach Ron Prince said. "We have to do a better job of supporting, making sure he's protected and letting him use the talent he does have."
Freeman found himself under heavy fire most of the night after the Cornhuskers' defense stymied an ineffective Wildcat running game that could only muster 22 yards. Take out the 38 yards that wide receiver Daniel Gonzalez picked up on a fake punt, and K-State's rushing total dropped to -16 yards.
The Blackshirts were able to sack the freshman four times and put him on his back numerous others after the Huskers jumped to a 21-0 lead in the second half. Freeman threw on 34 of KSU's 42 plays after halftime.
"Under the pressure and everything, I think he handled it fine," said Gonzalez, who caught four of Freeman's throws for 72 yards. "He did his job, and it's up to everyone else to do their job."
Freeman got off to a rough start, missing on his first four throws. He didn't lead the Wildcat offense to a first down until 7 ½ minutes remained in the second quarter.
Freeman finally found himself in a rhythm after halftime when forced to throw on nearly every snap. He showed the impressive physical talents and arm strength that made him one of the most sought-after high school QBs in the country last season and even displayed surprising mobility. Six of his 16 completions in the second half went for at least 15 yards.
But Freeman still couldn't solve an NU defense that never let the Wildcats back in the game. The Blackshirts denied KSU's best scoring chance midway through the fourth quarter but held on three straight plays inside the 5-yard line after Freeman led the Wildcats on an 11-play march.
"To a certain extent, I'm disappointed," Freeman said. "Nebraska's a good team. We felt like we could've beat them. We took some shots but didn't land them."
Following the game, the 6-foot-6 238-pounder, who nearly ended up in Lincoln before switching his commitment to K-State in December, was guarded speaking about his attitude entering the night given his past history with NU.
"They're a good team. They came out and played a good fame," Freeman said. "They outplayed us tonight, and that's all there really is to say.
"We didn't win, so I failed."
But it's apparent the abject failure many Husker fans wished on Freeman following his defection to Manhattan will not likely materialize. He showed enough of his raw skill to make his coach mourn Saturday's loss, but not enough to ignore the promise of Freeman's future.
"I was very proud of his poise in the game and the way he conducted it," Prince said. "I thought he was very much in control."