With the game plan in place, Coach Callahan said that the focus once in Dallas will be to refine everything they have done up to this point. But that will follow the holiday break, the players taking four days off before heading to Texas to get ready for the game.
When looking back at sophomore running back Cody Glenn's accident when he drove back to Texas, along with the current weather conditions, there could be some expected apprehension about everyone taking off to go home before Nebraska travels down there as a team. Coach Callahan didn't have those types of fears.
"I just hope the kids make him home safe. We have a lot of kids traveling coast-to-coast," he said. " I hear there is some bad weather out there, so I know the guys going westbound will be a little hung up in Denver unfortunately, but I hope they all make it home safe and arrive home and safe in Dallas."
The Nebraska head coach also liked the fact that unlike last season, where the team had to prepare during the Christmas holiday as they faced Michigan in the Alamo Bowl, this year has afforded them the freedom to give players a lot of time to enjoy the fruits of their labor over the regular season.
"We didn't get that opportunity last year, because we played on the 28th or 29th, so we were going down there before Christmas to get our preparation," he said. "What we've done is that we have had an extra week of preparation with the championship game, so that gave us a bonus."
" And then, of course, we gave them a week off and then we started to get into our weekend practices. And now that we have a full week behind us and the game plan has been full installed, all we need to do is go into Dallas and polish it up and prepare for Auburn."
"Some teams do that, some don't, but I feel philosophically that it's good to have a little bit of a break and go down there and enjoy the festivities and have the game plan in so that you can really enjoy the bowl atmosphere."
Another of the key benefits from this time off will be that the players will get some extra time away from practice, drills, etc. So, when they do get down to Dallas, the head coach expects a fresh team. "I am very confident that they will have their legs," Callahan said of when his players arrive for practices in Dallas. "We were in half pads this week, full pads before that. I want to make sure we are fresh. Seemingly they were fresh today. We ran them pretty good today. They did a good job."
The head coach did say, though, that some extra conditioning could take place after the team arrives, due to obvious reasons. "(We are) going to have to run off a little of that holiday food." He said.
Another measure which has taken place in regard to keeping players fresh has been specifically pointed toward the running back position. With the loss of sophomore Cody Glenn to a midfoot sprain, junior running back Brandon Jackson being limited to a cast and junior running back Kenny Wilson also being hampered, there was something that needed to be done to give those healthy backs a little break.
The solution to that was the staff bringing freshman safety Major Culbert over from the defensive side of the ball. Culbert was a standout running back in high school, amassing over 2,000 yards in total offense his last year at the prep level. That kind of athleticism and obvious ability to play the spot made it an easy choice to move him, because there was debate after Culbert arrived as to just which position he should play.
"We bantered back and forth and argued on the staff table about whether he was going to be a running back or safety," Coach Callahan said of conversations after Culbert was officially a Husker. "We put him at safety because we needed the help, but surely he's demonstrated the ability to play running back and he's picked it up pretty fast. I am really pleased with his efforts and his concentration."
This particular move was made last week, but as to Culbert actually seeing time at running back for the Cotton Bowl, the head coach wasn't sure. "I don't know about that, (but) we worked him pretty good," Major filled in and unselfishly stepped up and got a lot of reps."
Nebraska will arrive in Texas on Tuesday, have a team meeting that day at 3:00 p.m and we'll continue conditioning after that.
While Coach Callahan didn't go into any major detail about the four recent junior college signees, he did say that he was very happy with the players they picked up. Nebraska addressed a host of needs with the four, getting one at quarterback (Zach Lee), at safety (Larry Asante), on the defensive line (Shukree Barfield) and at CB (Armando Murillo).
"We're happy about our new signees and we welcome them and looking really forward to getting them on the practice field," he said. "They are tremendous kids and great athletes. Larry Asante and Zach Lee-I am really excited about those two players, and of course, we have a couple of high school players coming in as well."
"But (with) the junior college kids, there's some real quality at corner obviously and at D-line, at safety and quarterback as well."
In regard to the numbers, while Nebraska is sitting at 27 commits right now, with four having signed, the head coach said that recruiting isn't done by a long shot. "We continue to recruit and we're going to continue to put the pedal to the metal," he said. "We're not going to stop by any stretch."
"Recruiting in this day and age is very different. Players have a change of mind – change of heart, and that's the nature of the game," he continued. "Because of that, you have to keep recruiting, go hard until signing day, until that name is signed on the dotted line. Nothing is guaranteed."
"We continue to press on and try to attract a few more players to the roster."