Attitude still positive after Missouri

It's probably been beat to death, but following a loss where a team found themselves handled to an extent, it's appropriate enough to bring up again: This team is resilient. The never say did attitude that was all but completely absent last year is just as pervasive this year. A loss, no matter what the fashion isn't enough to stop this team from thinking they can still win every game they play.

The second half collapse of the Huskers on both sides of the ball against Missouri was significant. It was reminiscent of two years ago when the Tigers posted the exact same score on Nebraska, Brad Smith once again the focal point of frustration for the "Blackshirts" as whatever they did, Smith countered and in impressive fashion.

There was a significant let down last year as well in somewhat the same fashion, but far more convincingly as the Huskers went into Manhattan, Kansas positive and came out embarrassed, the Wildcats running roughshod over NU.

That was then, this is now and thoughts don't linger as to how similar this kind of loss feels in respect to prior seasons, but why this year it's so different. "It was just a terrible performance on our part," sophomore linebacker Bo Ruud said of the Missouri game, where Brad Smith set a rushing record for a quarterback, amassing almost 246 yards on the ground. "Last year was more about effort, but this year we were playing hard, just not the right way."

"We know we have to put this behind us, because we have a big game this week."

That was what players said last year, but from one week to the next, you didn't know if that philosophy was going to stick or if they were going to come out and lay an egg like they had done numerous times before.

To their credit, though, we have seen this team fight back from being down seemingly countless times this year and it's because of that and the fact that until the game is over, this team won't let up, optimism remains. "We're all day fighters," senior safety Daniel Bullocks said. "Being down and coming back like we did with Missouri, we really didn't go through that last year."

On the offensive line, there's equal optimism despite the fact that against Missouri this unit had perhaps its worst game of the year. The theme, outside of Brad Smith being so effective was the offensive line and how ineffective they were, especially at protecting the quarterback.

Shot after shot, Zac Taylor seemed to spend more time on this back than he did under center. That kind of performance could dampen a team's spirit, but with this group, it's working the other way. "Everyone understands we have to pick it up in practice," senior offensive tackle Seppo Evwaraye said. "(But) Nobody's laying down. Just because of that, everyone is going to be fighting harder."

"Because of magnitude and importance of this game, everyone is going to be fighting that much harder."

If you want to dissect the Missouri game, each player will take ownership of what they did or didn't do that let a winnable game get out of hand. Each player stands up and says it was them that shares equally part of the blame for the loss.

What this doesn't have, though, is the inability to let go of the baggage, something last year's team took with them from game to game. According to head coach Bill Callahan, that kind of necessary forgetfulness is key in preparing for a new team, especially the team that is coming to Lincoln. "We brought our players in Sunday, an opportunity to review the films and get that game behind us," he said. "I think it's very strong," he said of the team's confidence right now.

"There are always elements you can improve upon (and) every game you come out of, you want to get better. Our players have a good understanding of what's expected of them and in any game you go over, you look to see what you could have done better."

The game itself does lend a little urgency to the fact that Nebraska has to put the Missouri loss behind them, another conference game looming and with Nebraska's biggest historical rival.

Because it's a home game, a conference game and it's Oklahoma, worrying about what was doesn't even cross the players' minds. "This is a must-win for us," Ruud said. "This is huge for us."

"Most people know how big this is," Ruud said of this being Nebraska versus Oklahoma. "I think growing up they always see the ESPN Classics and how Nebraska and Oklahoma was on and I think most people grasp the concept of how big this is."

Ruud can appreciate it, but Nebraska's starting quarterback can appreciate it probably as much, Ruud a native of Nebraska, Taylor a native of Oklahoma. For Taylor, there isn't any lingering of what Nebraska didn't do against Missouri, but what they have to do now, so that he can actually be part of a victory over his childhood team. "I've lived in Norman long enough to know how big the Nebraska/Oklahoma game is and it was always the biggest game of the year when I lived there."

"This is another huge step for us as a team and another game we need to win, but it will be fun to be on the field against them."

For you, me and anyone else outside of the program, it's probably a little hard to understand how you can let a game like that go, because of all the things Nebraska did to assist in coming out on the losing end. That's their philosophy, one they have stuck to since the year began.

As for the how that resilience comes about in the locker room, though, it's about last year and the fact that nobody wants to relive it, but because who Nebraska is playing this week, it makes it a little easier to forget about even the recent past. "Oklahoma has always been a great team, so walking off the field with a victory would be huge for the whole team."

"A win would be a win, but it would be special to beat Oklahoma."

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