April 16, 2010

Huskers ready to put on a show at spring game

After four weeks of preparation, the latest version of the Nebraska football team will finally be put on display for all of Husker Nation to see on Saturday.

Though the annual Red-White game is essentially just the 15th and final practice of the spring, there's no denying that having 70,000-80,000 fans in attendance changes the dynamic of things for the players just a bit.

As the Huskers put on the finishing touches for the spring game, many of the players admitted that they're feeling some of the same butterflies they feel just before an actual regular season contest.

"With how many people that are going to be there Saturday, it's exciting," junior defensive tackle Jared Crick said. "The atmosphere is what really heightens the emotions. Seeing all those people in the stands, that's going to set the mood."

Obviously the increased attendance for the Red-White game puts on some added pressure for the players. Even if the fans are all rooting for the same team, the mistakes they maybe could get away with during closed practice sessions will be totally exposed on Saturday.

Still, many Huskers say that they thrive on that kind of pressure.

"Anytime we have a crowd, whether it's just (the media) at the beginning of practice or 80,000 people, it's better than practicing out here with just the coaches," senior tight end Dreu Young said. "Before, there were no people, there were no witnesses."

One thing the majority of fans want to see on Saturday is how the offense performs coming off its breakout game against Arizona in the Holiday Bowl.

Head coach Bo Pelini already came out and said Nebraska was going to keep the game plan about as simple as it could be for the Red-White game, but fans will still get to see how well the offense has been able to carry over last year's momentum.

"It's going to be really basic football," Pelini said. "We're not going to show a whole lot. Obviously, we want to see fundamentals, technique. It's not going to be a lot of scheme things. That's what these practices were for, but we're not going to open that up. Let them go out there, have fun and put on a show."

Sophomore running back Rex Burkhead said the offense has made some big strides so far this spring, but that was based solely on 14 spring practices. It would seem the Huskers are on their way to taking the next step both as an offense and as a team, but no one will know until they finally take the field this fall against a real opponent.

"I think we've improved, but we haven't done anything yet," Burkhead said. "We haven't played one game, so you really can't tell. I think we're coming along really well in the passing game and the running game, but it's hard to say how much until we get out there and play for real."

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