Future Husker wide receiver Menelik Holt joined the masses in not seeing Nebraska much of a threat in this game, so what transpired caught him a little off guard. "It surprised me. I didn't think that we would do good at Boulder. I thought we were going to lose," Menelik said.
"I think everybody had a good day."
Holt's happy, of course, but he's still a little stunned, because as a future Husker, he's watched the early season futility. He's seen the road woes and an offense that can't run the ball. He's also seen the defense struggle mightily late in the season and against sub par teams like Kansas and Missouri. When he thinks of what he saw in Colorado, his surprise continues to overwhelm.
"What in the hell happened," Holt inquired as to what this team did in comparison to most of the season. "I was wondering if Colorado had lost a bunch of players, because I did not expect that at all."
"I'm shocked to be honest."
Shocked is good, especially when you consider how shocked some have been at performances late in the year, but to the other extreme. This is a good shocked, a satisfied shocked and a feeling that things are starting to turn.
That's what Holt took away from the game, other than the game itself, knowing that most of the players involved in that shocking performance are going to be back there next year. "You got freshman blocking, freshman running the ball and freshman receivers – it's crazy how many young guys they have right now," he said. "The way they this season has ended, if we have a great off season, this team is going to be hard to stop."
"We'll definitely be in the top 25, but I think we should be there right now."
It's the bandwagon of positive feeling about the program, following a game that was an emphatic statement about what this team can do when properly prepared, motivated and when the players get it done on the field. Holt prefers to look at what this game did as an indication of potential, but he feels the potential is even better than that.
"The off-season is big," Holt said. "The way this season ended, if we have a good off season, I mean a really good one, I think Nebraska could be better than what they showed against Colorado. I mean, look at some of the guys that we are going to have."
"You've got young guys all over the place, so it's just a matter of everyone working together to get even better."
That's one thing that Holt knows is the key to his success, the amount he's had and the success he hopes for in the future. He had a good role model of sorts as well, former teammate Jordan Congdon being one of the hardest workers he's ever seen.
That's something for the kicker to have a work ethic that makes everyone turn their head, but for Congdon himself, it was simply what he had to do to fit in on a team. "I'm a kicker, so there's not a lot you can do to earn respect on your team," Jordan said. "Yeah, you can kick a game winner and everyone likes you, but that's over with pretty quickly."
"You have to find something everyday that you can do to get the respect and for me the weight room was the place to do it."
Holt remembers those days, finding himself trailing a kicker when it came to time in the weight room. Holt is proud of his work ethic, but he saw in Congdon what you need to do to make it at the next level. "It's something when a kicker is the guy that you have to actually tell to get out of the weight room," Menelik said. "But look at him now. That's not a mistake that he is where he is, because he worked at it and that's how I am about what I do."
This staff does have a reputation above and beyond what you might read in the day-to-day recaps in the media. It's the one that players talk about, even the commits that have yet to step on the field. It's about the fact that you can perform not so well on the field at times, but as long as you are giving it everything you have off the field, the staff will give you a chance to redeem yourself.
When it comes to that, Holt said that their attitude fits him to a tee. "I'm one of those guys that you just throw out there, because I will learn it no matter what it takes," he said. "I may get knocked down, but I will find a way."
"My goal every game is to make sure that I know that no matter what happened, I did everything I could do and made sure that I left it all on the field."
"You don't ever leave a doubt about what you are willing to give to your team in trying to get better," he said. "The game is where it comes together, but practice is where you do your most work."
"You give everything you have, never leave a doubt in anyone's mind as to you wanting to sell out for your team and good things are going to happen."
He's already for that as you could guess. Just the thought of playing big-time college football is great. And seeing what Nebraska did to Colorado makes it even better. But Holt is the kind of kid that likes to stay ahead of the game and doesn't like coming from behind. He wants to get out there right now.
"To do something like this at this level, you have to love the game," he said. "I think everyone does, but to get to that next level, you have to really love it, because it takes dedication and time to make yourself good enough to compete against the kind of players you are going to face."
"When you are like that, you never want off the field. Heck, you want football all year ‘round and I want to suit up right now. It's just a bonus that Nebraska seems to be playing the best ball they have played in like a year or two."
Holt sees as much an attitude change with this Nebraska team as anything, in trying to pin down just where the improvement has been and why. If a team plays with confidence, it will show on the field, he believes. It's the attitude he holds close to his heart and he sees it in this team and for his future, he's more than happy to know that he's going to fit in just fine.
"The last thing you want is to know you lost or that you didn't do your best, because you took just one play off," he said. "It doesn't matter of it's a game, practice or whenever. Whatever happens, as long as nobody can question that you did everything you could, as hard as you could go, you have to be proud of the effort."
"That's what I saw from that team, because they never let up on Colorado. I think that's the kind of team everyone is going to see in every game next year."