The letter means more than the numbers

70-10. It probably sticks out to fans like an oak tree would in the middle of the desert. It's not supposed to be there. Well, 70-10 isn't supposed to happen to Nebraska either. It's always the other way around. There are players here that got to experience that first hand down in Lubbock and as easy as it is to remember, as much as everyone outside of the program wants to talk about payback, the players want to talk about anything but. Last year was last year and hopefully, this year isn't.

Even before the Tuesday press conference started, there was no question about what the theme of the P.C. would be:


The worst loss in Husker history, against a team Nebraska normally dominates and during a year where Nebraska decidedly wasn't the Nebraska we have come to know.

Last year's team wasn't one that anyone knew, actually, and that's why when you talk about this year, some players would say to compare the situations, because how they approach things now is far different than how things were approaches just a year ago. "We weren't handling adversity at all last year," junior defensive end Jay Moore said of last year's team. ""This year, we are ready for it. We handle adversity a lot better than last year."

One could say that just being on the team last season was adverse in some ways. A new staff, some players not entirely warming to the new way of doing things and a locker room more divided than it was not.

It was just part of what Moore said made for a team that wasn't on the same page one week to the next. "When those things happened, we weren't ready for it," Moore said of getting down by a wide margin to a team. "(This year) There's more of a belief in ourselves and we are more of a team."

"Last year was one of those weird things and we are out to prove that we are better than last year."

But not revenge. While we certainly like the sound bytes that have the word "payback" in them, you won't find a player on this team saying that they are looking forward to a chance to pay the Red Raiders back. In fact, you'd be surprised how even some of the younger players respond when asked what goes through their mind knowing that Texas Tech is just a few days away.

"We want to win the game, that's it," Sophomore cornerback Cortney Grixby said. "We aren't thinking about 70-10 or whatever, because we don't look at it like that. We just look at this game as one we need to win."

"I don't care if it's 3-0, as long as we win, that's all that matters."

Prior to the season, I had asked Moore about last year and what kind of feelings he had when he tried to put it all into perspective. Amongst other things, he said that the whole experience left a bad taste in his mouth.

Not because of the losses, mind you, but because of how those losses occurred and the fact that when the team took the field, he wasn't so sure that there was much of a team at all. "There was just a lot of stuff going on last year with everything that was going on," Moore said. "And it didn't take much to get us out of our game."

"We'd play good one week, bad the next, good the next, but if something bad happened or we got down fast, you didn't know what would happen. I wasn't sure if that was it or if we had what it took to fight back."

"This year, I know we have what it takes."

It's been said, written about, seen in video interviews, the unity of a team that was anything but a year prior. From the division in the locker room to the division between players and coaches, as I have said before, they weren't on the same page, they weren't even in the same library.

From Spring to Fall to now, what we have seen was the materialization of everything they said. That was different in and of itself, because as we in the media have gotten used to, you'll hear that everything is perfect when it's most definitely not.

Not this year and while there is credit being passed around as to just why that is, players are enjoying the fact that the last thing they are talking about is if everyone is on the same page.

"It's all for one, baby," senior defensive end Wali Muhammad said. "There's none of that other stuff taking us out of our game this year. We got each other's backs and everyone has been seeing it in action."

"It's about playing, man, it's about getting out there and knocking the offense out of their game and we've done that every single week."

Nebraska is leading the nation in sacks. They are also leading the country in tackles for losses. They are amongst the best in scoring defense, rush defense and almost at the top in pass efficiency defense as well.

Junior defensive end Adam Carriker said that this isn't some big coincidence. "It's not about what I can do on the field or what Jay can do or Wali or whoever," he said. "It's about what we can do as a team."

"That was just one of the problems last year, because I don't know how many times we were all on the same page, but I can tell you it wasn't many. This year, I can't think of a time when we weren't."

"It doesn't matter who we are playing, whether it's Pitt, Oklahoma or Texas Tech, if you aren't a team, you aren't going to win and against good teams, you could end up getting beat pretty good."

"That's what happened to us a few times last year."

It is rather ironic when you think about it. Texas Tech with their potent offense is coming to town and it's like this Tech team doesn't even exist. Well, not to us outside of the program, that is, where we can afford to look back, ahead and think about Nebraska carving another notch in the belt in regard to avenging losses from last year.

It's almost like the team is battling a score and not an actual team, the stigma of that game almost equal to the importance of the game coming this weekend.

It's a good thing the players don't feel like that and that whatever might linger from last year isn't still hanging with them today. In fact, it's because it's not, that Nebraska goes into this Texas Tech game still without a loss on its record.

"I have been saying over and over that this is a totally different team," senior defensive tackle Le Kevin Smith said. "And it's because we ARE a team. You don't have to wonder if there is this person or that person that isn't doing their job, because everyone is doing it and everyone is trying to help everyone else."

"If you aren't a part of it when it's not the best, you don't appreciate what it's like when it is. I know everyone has my back and they know I have theirs. Once you step on the field, that's all you can ask."

"If we win, that's great, let's get ready for the next guy. If we lose, same thing. Nothing gets to us now, because we won't let it. Like I said, we are a team."

That's why when you say "70-10", they might laugh. You talk about the seven turnovers, they might shrug as if it didn't mean a thing. It did, of course, but it's not disinterest or even a lack of feeling as to why that game went so terribly wrong.

It wasn't them, if you were ask. It certainly wasn't who you see now. That score, that mistake that Husker fans will never forget was the product of a great team in Tech, but for some, it was the fact that the Red Raiders didn't put 70 on a team, because there wasn't one out there at the time.

"I hate to lose. I mean, I can't stand it," Adam Carriker said. "But, if you are going down, you want to do it fighting and you want to know that every guy on the field with you was fighting to."

"We just know that is happening this year, without even looking and you can't ask for anything more than that."

"If we still get beat, I'm still going to hate it, but if you got beat by a better team, that happens. It's better than thinking that for part of that game, you were just beating yourself."

None of them, to a man, think of getting beat this weekend. They don't think of the score from last year, despite all of our questions about it, what happened to cause it and how they are going to stop that from happening again.

They answer politely enough, talk about the past not writing the future and how this team, win or lose, is going to do it hand-in-hand. And the only guarantees they will give you about the weekend is that they will be energetic, fiery and focused.

Not on a number either, but a letter and when it's all said and done, for all the drama we create about last year, it's the one letter that will make all of this a moot point in the end.

"All that matters is the "W"," Cortney Grixby said. "The score doesn't matter, how we do it doesn't matter. All that matters is the win."

"We know everyone else is going to talk about this, but we won't. The only thing we are talking about is what it's going to take to get a win this weekend."

"The rest of that stuff just doesn't matter."

Big Red Report Top Stories