However, while Western Illinois will be upset-minded for this game as well, Callahan is making sure that his mind or his players' minds are looking beyond the importance of here and now. "I'm not so much worried for the players to get involved with Western Illinois." he said. "I don't want them to start thinking about that just yet."
"I want them to continue thinking about how to improve their game from a fundamental and a technique aspect. I don't want the team to get all wrapped up in Western Illinois. Like I have told them many times, you can't control what they do, you control what you do."
"Not that we don't respect Western Illinois, but our focus is primarily on us improving."
That home-opener is just two weeks away now, the clocking ticking down to that ever-cliche' "new era". The coaching won't be the only thing new, however, as the players are going to be exhibiting something never seen at Nebraska as well.
Captains were voted on last night and for the first time, players other than Seniors will be eligible for captainship at Nebraska. That decision was come to not because there weren't enough quality seniors to give the honors to, but based on conversations with the Seniors themselves. "I spent a lot of time with our Seniors this Summer." Callahan stated. "I had a few Senior-meetings where I just sat down and tried to gain as much insight as I could into Nebraska football, their past, what they think would be great in terms of changes in traditions."
"And one of the things that came up was captainship. I asked them if the captainship was just for Seniors only and they didn't want it to be. They wanted it opened up to the entire team. So, the entire team with the exception of the freshmen will vote for the two thousand four season."
Each player will receive one ballot for the vote and coach Callahan stated the amongst the criteria for voting will be on and off the field work ethics along with being a leader, having the respect of the team, overall leadership ability, just to name a few.
That vote will be announced later this morning.
With the addition of fresh faces as captain, Nebraska can now finally say it's welcomed a fresh-face that everyone has been awaiting since the end of football this last season. Cornealius Thomas, a junior college transfer from California made it to campus and was already undergoing his physical testing so as to be able to join the team.
Co-Offensive Coordinator and QB coach - Jay Norvell said that it might be late, but it's a heck of a lot better than never for Thomas to arrive. "We're really excited to have him here." he said. "He has a big body - he's what they are supposed to look like, so we're real happy to finally have him here."
With any junior college transfer, most are expected to contribute right away, even amongst some of the more complicated schemes on either side of the ball. That to was no doubt the wishes of the staff when they recruited the College of San Francisco star. Considering the late arrival, however, any early contribution that Thomas might make is completely up in the air. "We're a couple of weeks away (from the season) right now and he's got an awful lot to learn." Norvell stated. "We'll start training him - we're used to training people quickly. In the NFL, we had to train guys in two days to play on Sunday."
Another newbie to the group is running back Thomas Lawson. A walk-on from Coloardo, Thomas was an athlete that Norvell said the NU staff was eyeing for some time. Nebraska ended up going another direction though, but that didn't stop Lawson as he still became a Husker in the end and now the staff just has to see where Lawson can fit in and more importantly, when. "He was a guy that we identified that could be in our 105." Norvell stated. "(But) We felt like we had to go some other directions, but now he's here, Randy is really high on him and so he can make a contribution."
Both Thomas and Lawson must go through that mandatory 5-day period of acclimation before hitting the pads with their new teammates.
Tomorrow, Nebraska takes the field for practice at 7:45 in the morning. The unusually early time is due to the fact that Callahan's 5k "Run/Walk for Resources" is set to take place at 8:00 A.M. and "Fan Day" a.k.a. "Photo Day" starts at 1:00 P.M. and that will go until 2:30. Temperatures are supposed to reach the lower to mid-80s, so dress cool and make sure to drink plenty of water while you are there.
The captains vote will be for 4 individuals and which side of the ball they play is irrelevant.
Steve Ryan can be reached at SteveRyan@bigredreport.com or 402-476-5006