If you would have mentioned the
word “Unity” in the middle of last season, you’d probably get a sarcastic
chuckle or even a menacing sneer, depending on who was listening when it was
That’s because this was a team
that was anything but unified.
Turmoil within the locker room,
animosity amongst friends and a machine that was supposed to be so finely tuned
by the time a game arrived, wasn’t.
This year has been almost
completely opposite, functions like paintball, laser tag, cookouts and
everything else, all meant for one purpose.
For senior defensive tackle Le Kevin Smith, the difference between a team together and a team apart was a major
factor in why some wins last year turned into losses. “A lot of teams that we
lost to, we didn’t lose to, we lost to ourselves,” Smith said.
You might say that’s sour grapes,
bitterness even, but Smith’s handle on it wasn’t about execution on the day,
passes made or not made, rather it was about before the game even took place.
“During the week you win the game,” Smith said of the practices leading up to
each game. “If you don’t have everybody together during the week, you’ll lose
“No matter what you think you can
show up and do on game day, if you’re team is not a team before game day, it
does not work.”
This year, you don’t hear that
kind of talk unless it’s in reminding guys why today things ARE actually
working, while at one point in time they did not.
What you hear about now are terms
like “tight knit”, “peas in a pod” and even “family”.
Sure, they were a family last
year, but this year is closer to the Waltons while last year was a amped up
version of “Growing up Gotti”.
Yeah, dysfunctional to say the
Since the start of Spring,
though, it’s been a new tune and this summer has been one of intent rather than
discontent, players going out of the way to make sure that every other player
feels like they are one of the team.
After what Smith has seen in his
almost five year career at Nebraska, he’s happy to see that his final
year is how he hoped all of his years would be. “I am so happy this year, I
don’t think there is anything that could bring it down right now,” Smith said.
“It’s a long time before the first game, so I hope they stay on the right path,
but things are going great so far.”
In tribute to Lance Armstrong and
his proof that anything is possible and with the mere mortal shell, greatness
can once be discovered, the university of Nebraska football team has embraced
Armstrong and his most coveted tradition:
The Yellow Jersey
Yes, they probably could have all
gotten bikes and wore those funny helmets, but it was enough for head coach Bill Callahan to start giving out an award each day for the top three performers on
A Yellow Jersey
Three in fact, one going to an
offensive player, one to a defensive player and the last, of course, going to
Yesterday’s recipients were
linebacker Stewart Bradley, running back Cory Ross and wide receiver Frantz Hardy, who got his award for his excellence on special teams.
This will be a daily award, the
same jersey changing players possibly every single day.
Nobody could be reached for
comment, however, on who makes sure it’s been washed everyday as well.
Nebraska resumes practice today, early this
afternoon, repeating the same on Sunday. On Monday, they revert back to normal
practice times before two-a-days start later that week.
The Huskers will go in full pads
on Monday and it is that time where some of the freshmen will be meeting the
local media for the very first time.