By Randy York
What a holiday weekend … new East Stadium with unveiled life-sized Bob Devaney statue… biggest crowd in Memorial Stadium history …first public tours of Pinnacle Bank Arena’s stunning interior. Up next? Friday night’s official dedication ceremony of the brand spanking new Devaney Center. Where else will you see a trifecta like that in less than a week? As a large advertising sign near the stadium says – “There Is No Place” and no need to finish the sentence because we all know the punch line. So in honor of that, please consider this N-Sider a positively charged Husker Weekend Rewind, structurally segmented to condense news that Husker fans enjoy most.
Bo Pelini’s Press Conference: Bo went straight from his postgame radio show to the film room and stayed there until the wee hours Sunday morning because he would not have been able to sleep anyway. Here are 10 quick-hitters for those who prefer to accentuate the positive: 1) Bo said he learned a lot from the film and thinks his players will, too; 2) Bo says the 37-34 escape from Wyoming will serve as a wake-up call for the 2013 season; 3) He also thinks his team will move forward and benefit in all aspects from its first-game experience; 4) Bo’s great expectations for this team have not changed; 5) Taylor Martinez has a bruised left shoulder, but he’s fine; 6) Bo likes how some young players reacted to the pressure of a game situation and feels a lot of those positives “got masked” because of certain things that didn’t happen; 7) Bo said he and his staff accept blame for restricting the aggressiveness of Vincent Valentine and likes the future upside of the redshirt freshman nose tackle; 8) Bo sees more “real positives” in the early learning curve for linebackers David Santos and Josh Banderas; 9) He says freshman linebacker Nate Gerry “is going to be a really good football player” and redshirt freshman Sam Foltz “is going to be a really good punter for a number of years for us.”; and 10) Pelini said he watched film last week showing former Husker and now Tampa Bay linebacker starter Lavonte David having “two or three clean shots” on Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith two years ago and David “didn’t get him down one time.” Such a comment is incredibly relevant when you consider that David’s 20 tackles for loss in 2012 are the second most on record for a rookie since the NFL began tracking the statistic in 2000.
John Cook’s Press Conference: Cook has a multiplicity of converging thoughts before the curtain officially goes up Friday night at the Devaney Center, the new home of Nebraska volleyball, wrestling and men’s and women’s gymnastics. This will be the 13th straight season and the 182nd consecutive home sellout match for a Husker volleyball team with 11 new players. That’s 11, like in football, collectively searching for definitive roles in terms of playing time and chemistry, not to mention their own individual and team identity. Since the Final Four remains an annual goal for a Cook-coached team, young or old, we have four important news items from Monday’s volleyball press conference: 1) Cook indicated he will tweak the Huskers’ 6-2 offense to match setters Kelly Hunter and Mary Pollmiller with certain hitters in the rotation; 2) Adjustments also are designed to help returning sophomore middle blocker starter Meghan Haggerty increase her productivity and give her confidence a simultaneous boost; 3) Cook believes outside hitter Kadie Rolfzen will play this weekend for the first time since injuring a shoulder during the summer; and 4) The Huskers have been in their new Devaney Center digs for a week now, and their head coach could not be happier. “I’ve gone to volleyball heaven,” Cook said, citing three courts to call his own without having to share them. “I feel like I’m an NBA coach. I’ve got everything right there … (even) ice baths when practice is over. It’s awesome.”
We end this weekend rewind with two “feel good” moments related to Nebraska football. The first is a footnote that happened last Tuesday night when former Husker receiver Ricky Simmons shared his story of being released from prison and restoring his life in the community. He credited the support he received from Tom Osborne, who sat in the back of Lincoln’s St. Mark’s Methodist Church with his wife, Nancy, and nearly 200 others. Last Christmas Day’s N-Sider explained the Power of Redemption that Simmons experienced. In the midst of such intense focus on Game Day Saturdays, this story is a much bigger wake-up call than the Nebraska-Wyoming game. “I’ve been clean going on five years now,” said Simmons, a licensed substance abuse counselor and owner of Simmons & Associates, which specializes in motivational speaking.
The second “feel good” moment came from Madison, Wis., and a pleasantly surprised Barry Alvarez, who gives his full-fledged support to a statue that was unveiled last Friday of Bob Devaney. A former All-Big Eight linebacker, Alvarez played for Devaney on a Husker team that led the nation in total defense, and he was as thrilled as anyone when he learned that Nebraska Director of Athletics Shawn Eichorst had commissioned the statue and had it placed in the new East Stadium Plaza. “Bob was way ahead of his time in so many different ways,” Wisconsin’s athletic director said of his former head football coach and longtime mentor. “Bob shortened practice to two hours max, and back in the early ‘60s, some coaches would spend two hours on extra point practice alone if the team missed a PAT the week before. Bob had us scrimmage all spring and practice was very physical, but we did not scrimmage in the fall. Bob coached you, he taught you and he motivated you. That statue was a great move by Shawn.”
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