Turnaround Strikes Nebraska in Off-Season

Except for Tom Osbourne's retirement and promotion of Frank Solich to head coach, Nebraska football hasn't seen much turnover in the past several years. But in a program full of high expectations and tradition, a 7-7 overall record and 3-5 mark in Big 12 play can bring about several moves.

Solich remained at the helm for a sixth season in Lincoln, but brought in an unheard of six new assistant coaches, including hiring Barney Cotton and Bo Pelini as offensive and defensive coordinators, respectively. Cotton will now be in charge of the offense, as Solich relieved himself of those duties.

The Huskers also hired Tim Albin (running backs), Scott Downing (tight ends and kickers), Marvin Sanders (defensive backs) and Jimmy Williams (linebackers) in the off-season.

In what has been an off-season of transition, Nebraska's players are starting to adapt to the new faces and Solich believes the right pieces are in place for success.

"There is an awful lot that can be said about continuity and all that goes with it," said Solich, who has compiled a 49-16 record since taking over for Osbourne. "But football is a different game than it even was five years ago. I felt like some changes needed to be made. I'm excited about the new coaching staff."

NU's focus on offense will continue to be running the ball with Cotton making the calls, however, Solich said his new coordinator will probably take more chances and utilize a receiving corps.

"We want to balance out our offense as much as possible," Solich said. "We want to have the ability to throw the ball and throw it well, and I think Jammal has a good arm. Now we've got to put an offensive line in front of him to put it all together."

Solich added that his new coordinator Pelini would probably play more aggressively on defense.

Team notes

Much was made of the season-opening game against Oklahoma State, which beat the Huskers in the second half of 2002 and sent them spiraling towards a .500 finish. The Cowboys head to Lincoln on Aug. 30 and leaves Solich with an interesting agenda: throw everything at them or hold something back for down the road?

"We're probably not going to throw out there what we're going to be doing with a new offensive coordinator," Solich said.

Asked if this could be the biggest game in his tenure or in Husker history, given the circumstances of last season, Solich replied, "This is a big game, but I wouldn't say it's the most important game in the history of Nebraska football."

Lord and defensive end Trevor Johnson spoke about NU's new outlook and attitude heading into the season, and how this season won't be a repeat of 2002.

"This is a different attitude, a different team," Lord said. "Everything is going to be different this year."

(CN would like to thank The Nest Bar & Grill in Johnston for sponsoring our coverage from Kansas City. CN & The Nest would like to invite you to join us on Wednesday, August 27th for our 2003 preseason tailgate party. Stay tuned to CN and 1460-KXNO for more details)

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