First of all, I watched this game, even twice just to see what I missed. What I couldn't miss was the size of these players, my amazement continuing at just how big these kids are getting.
A few of those were lined up for the Florida team on the defensive side of the ball, one right across from future Husker Rodney Picou. Even at Rodney's size (6 foot, 4 inches and 300 pounds) he had to admit that some of these guys took up some space. "Probably the biggest guys I have taken on so far," he said. "Every guy in front of me was pretty darn large."
More surprising still when he saw one of those bigguns do something he's never seen anyone that size do. "That guy doing the back-flip, he was almost as big as me," Picou said of Georgia commit and Plantation high school's Jeffrey Owens who, at 270 pounds did a running back-flip after a big play for the Florida team. "I don't think I will be trying that anytime soon."
We won't hold that against Picou, but Picou held his own against the likes of Owens and anyone else that Florida threw his way. That was something that didn't necessarily surprise Picou, but he'll admit that it wasn't quite what he expected. "I guess I just did better than I thought I would," he said. "You hear all this about the Florida guys and you start thinking that you are going to face nothing but these big guys you can't move."
"But, I was able to move people around most of the game, more than I thought I could, but these guys were definitely faster than I am used to facing."
That's really what Florida athletes are known for, basically coming out of the womb running a 4.3. That's an exaggeration of course, but sometimes when you look at their teams, you do have to wonder.
That was at least a factor in Florida coming out with the narrow 2-point victory, but Picou preferred to think that it was their game that they just let slip away. "We had them a couple of times," Rodney said. "One more turnover and that's probably the difference, but it was a great game and it was guys slugging it out until the end."
The storyline for Picou didn't begin and end with the game, but also had to do with one other person that was playing for the other side. A future teammate of his and the starting quarterback for Florida, Harrison Beck was someone Picou already met, but was eager to meet again. "We got to know each other in Lincoln." Picou said of when both visited Nebraska. "We hung out a little before the game and he's just a cool guy."
Picou had to comment on Beck's performance, that while it wasn't the statistical match of his own QB, the future Trojan Mark Sanchez, Rodney liked what he saw. "He's good," he said. "They were throwing so many screens I lost count, but he throws a nice ball, has a really strong arm and you saw that if he has to, he can move."
Picou likes that, because at some point, he plans on blocking for Beck and while he's confident in his own ability, he knows that sometimes guys will get by. The play Picou liked in illustrating Beck's ability to get when the getting was good was when one of the California defensive ends got loose off the right tackle, seemingly had Beck dead to rights, only to watch Beck spin out of his grasp and with a slinging sidearm reminiscent of Brett Favre, fired a ball 15 yards on the spot for a first down.
"That was a great play," Rodney said. "I was thinking that this is the guy I am going to be blocking for and that's good, because he's got what it takes."
Unfortunately for Rodney, Beck won't make the trip to San Antonio to compete against him yet again, this time in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. But, one Husker commit will be replaced with 5 others, Picou joining Jordan Congdon, Marlon Lucky, Leon Jackson, Craig Roark and Phillip Dillard as the representatives of the Husker Nation.
That's exciting, of course, because Picou has met them all, but one. "I haven't met Marlon Lucky yet," he said. "I can't wait to meet him and to block for him and see what he can do."
Picou is going to get a chance to watch most of them, but he'll be rooting for them all and not just because they are heading to the same team, but because all of the current Huskers are actually competing on the same team as well. As members of the "West" squad, Picou is as he said "pumped" for the game for that reason, but because now, he's ready to see about taking his post-season game to another level.
"The Califlorida game, that was us versus Florida," Rodney said. "Now, I'm going to face the best in the country. That first game was a good chance to get used to the kind of speed I'll be facing, but I am expecting some of these guys to be even faster and bigger to."
That's the best part and what Picou relishes about games like this and the thoughts about the next level. It's that feeling you get inside right before the ball in snapped and everyone just goes off. That's what Rodney had to keep himself from doing in Florida and he's figuring at least that kind of emotion once everything gets going down in Texas. "I had to calm myself down, down there," he said. "You just want to get down, get off that snap and go "ballin"."
"I am sure it's going to be like that down there, but that's part of the fun. That's why you play these kinds of games."
For the second time in a row, I was shot down in my efforts to get a player to talk smack. I wanted so much to get that bulletin board material that everyone throws up on the locker, because, well, that's what some of the players do. Picou wasn't biting, but more because he said nobody had to say anything now as he's sure that once the game starts, people are going to make up for lost time. "There's always lots of talking at things like this," he said. "You have so many good players, some are going to jaw at you."
"I'm usually pretty quiet, because I know that if I knock them on their backs, they won't be jawing anymore."
Put up or shut up or better yet, put up SO they will shut up. Either way works I suppose. What has worked for Picou throughout his career is something he's not about to change and what he said he utilized at the Califlorida Bowl and what he's going to use here.
"Come off quick and hit," he said. "Go at them, get up into them and knock them off the ball. You can't go in thinking you are going to scare guys like this, because they might be thinking they can scare you. You just get up, go "ballin" and whoever is standing in the end wins."
"That's just football and you go in playing to win."
Picou will do that with his future Husker teammates and hopefully in front of a bevy of Husker fans, the number of big red faithful alone expecting to far outnumber the total amount of spectators for Picou's most recent all-star game, the Orange Bowl reported to have around 500 people in the stands. That's another thing Picou is looking forward to and like running back Leon Jackson said, he's expecting it to a certain extent.
"Those fans will follow that team anywhere," he said. "You have to think they will be down there in force and it's going to be crazy if they are. I'll be like ‘yeah, those are our fans, where are yours?'. I'm hoping a bunch show up."
A "bunch" is expected to and the game is set to kickoff Saturday at noon. For Picou, it can't happen soon enough. "I can't wait to get down there," he said. "That game in Florida, it just makes you want to play another game and another after that. You just don't really want it to stop."
"It will be a long time after this before I get to Nebraska in the summer, but I know it will be all good once I'm there."
"That's when the fun really starts."