NU imitates actual game as countdown continues

It's impossible to totally replicate the atmosphere of an actual game. The excitement, the crowd and the situations - all have a very unique dynamic that demands you actually being there and a part of it to get a completely accurate feel. Until September 4th when Nebraska hosts Western Illinois, they can't experience that, but as far as the situations go, today they gave it their best shot.

With only a week left to prepare for the first game of the season, head coach Bill Callahan and company thought they would get a head start in creating the kind of experience these players would have.

A variety of situations, some standard, some what Callahan called "odd-ball", this was the Nebraska's baptism by fire so to speak before the actual game arrives. Overall, Callahan saw the results as positive as the countdown continues to the Leathernecks. "Today was a good dry run." he said. "We got a lot of things accomplished from a game-day perspective."

"Players got acclimated to the routine, to the pre-game, to the halftime and they know exactly what to expect when we tee it off a week from today."

For the older players, this might seem like old-hat, the returning Huskers having been through a few games of their own. A new staff does make this experience new for everyone though, something new and old players have to learn as they go. "I think all in all the team did a good job at just reviewing situations and transitioning from one situation to the next"

"We tried to create a lot of different situations for those odd-ball situations that come up during the course of a game, so it was really good."

Over much of the off-season, the theme wasn't about situations and odd-ball scenarios, rather just putting the actual plays in. The noted playbook and it's enormity was daunting for players at the thought of simply taking it all in.

That time has passed now, the staff now working not on putting more stuff in, but taking some out if needed. "It's not addition right now, it's all about subtraction." Callahan said. "We're trying to refine what we are doing."

"We are going to scale down the game-plan. We'll shrink the plan in a lot of respects and have plays that we know and can execute and we feel good about and that's what we'll feature on Saturday night."

One feature, at least for many coaches prior to games is developing a script of what they'd like to run in the early portion of the game. Callahan said that he to scripted plays for games, but wasn't certain as to the involvement of the players this time around. "I'm not certain what I am going to do in that regard yet." Callahan said. "It's something I have always done with the staff, but whether or not we'll do that with the players remains to be seen."

One bit of practice or honing up some of the players will do actually won't take place on the field. Instead, it will be in front of their TVs as most will be watching the debut of this year's college football season tonight.

USC faces Virginia Tech and for USC, it's the beginning of what most think will be another title run lead by an early Heisman favorite, QB - Matt Leinhart. Callahan said of watching USC that he didn't want his players to look at the obvious weapons for USC, rather opting for what he thought they could get the most out of this game. "The thing we talked to the team about was as you look at that game tonight, we want the players to really study the area of special teams." he said. "So many times in that opener, a lot of situations will come up and a lot of games are decided through the special teams area."

"It's one area that we have to focus on and be good at when we open up here on Saturday."

Callahan said that he would try to watch the second half of the game following a function scheduled later on this afternoon.

The game tonight (The BCA Classic) is scheduled to kickoff at 6:40 p.m. central standard time and will be aired on ESPN.

Steve Ryan can be reached at or 402-476-5006

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