If you would have mentioned the word "Unity" in the middle of last season, you'd probably get a sarcastic chuckle or even a menacing sneer, depending on who was listening when it was uttered.
That's because this was a team that was anything but unified.
Turmoil within the locker room, animosity amongst friends and a machine that was supposed to be so finely tuned by the time a game arrived, wasn't.
This year has been almost completely opposite, functions like paintball, laser tag, cookouts and everything else, all meant for one purpose.
For senior defensive tackle Le Kevin Smith, the difference between a team together and a team apart was a major factor in why some wins last year turned into losses. "A lot of teams that we lost to, we didn't lose to, we lost to ourselves," Smith said.
You might say that's sour grapes, bitterness even, but Smith's handle on it wasn't about execution on the day, passes made or not made, rather it was about before the game even took place. "During the week you win the game," Smith said of the practices leading up to each game. "If you don't have everybody together during the week, you'll lose that game."
"No matter what you think you can show up and do on game day, if you're team is not a team before game day, it does not work."
This year, you don't hear that kind of talk unless it's in reminding guys why today things ARE actually working, while at one point in time they did not.
What you hear about now are terms like "tight knit", "peas in a pod" and even "family".
Sure, they were a family last year, but this year is closer to the Waltons while last year was a amped up version of "Growing up Gotti".
Yeah, dysfunctional to say the least
Since the start of Spring, though, it's been a new tune and this summer has been one of intent rather than discontent, players going out of the way to make sure that every other player feels like they are one of the team.
After what Smith has seen in his
almost five year career at
In tribute to Lance Armstrong and
his proof that anything is possible and with the mere mortal shell, greatness
can once be discovered, the
Yes, they probably could have all gotten bikes and wore those funny helmets, but it was enough for head coach Bill Callahan to start giving out an award each day for the top three performers on the team.
Three in fact, one going to an offensive player, one to a defensive player and the last, of course, going to special teams.
This will be a daily award, the same jersey changing players possibly every single day.
Nobody could be reached for comment, however, on who makes sure it's been washed everyday as well.
The Huskers will go in full pads on Monday and it is that time where some of the freshmen will be meeting the local media for the very first time.