Friday will be the first meeting between Nebraska and Iowa as conference foes. It will be the first time the two teams meet for the “Heroes” trophy. It will also be senior day for 20 Huskers that spent between 4 and 5 years in Lincoln.
“Walking around the stadium after lifting, I saw kids warming up for the high school state (football) championship. It feels like just yesterday that I was just getting started, and now I’ve come to the end,” senior safety Austin Cassidy said. “I know the guys that came here with me and that are here for their fifth year have been through a lot. I’ve had three different position coaches, two head coaches, two defensive coordinators, two athletic directors, two different conferences, so I’ve seen a whole lot of change.”
After living through the Bill Callahan era, and becoming a Blackshirt under the new coaching staff, Cassidy feels like being a Husker during the most up and down 5 years in Husker history, that this experience has made him want to play even more on Friday.
“Not much is the same around here from when we first got here,” Cassidy said. “We stuck together, we stuck through it and it’s going to be one of the most memorable things in my life to go out with those guys one more time.”
Pelini feels very grateful for the group he has had his four years in Lincoln.
“Every kid on this team means a lot to me,” Pelini said. “These guys have been with me now for four years, and it’s never easy watching them leave. It’s pretty emotional for them playing their last home game. You go through this every year, and it’s never easy to say goodbye to guys but that’s part of the deal. Like I said, it is always an emotional day.”
Senior offensive tackle Marcel Jones looked back on his time in Lincoln as an emotional experience.
“Sometimes we look and are like, ‘man, our career here, we have a lot of milestones and a lot of history.” Jones said. ” We had the biggest comeback in school history against Ohio State, we went through two coaching changes, we changed a conference; we’ve done a lot here. We’re pretty grateful to have an opportunity like that.”
Dennard Glad He Came Back For His Senior Year
Senior corner back Alfonzo Dennard takes the field as a Husker for the last time in Memorial Stadium on Friday. There was a point at the end of last season, where many Husker fans, and Dennard himself,wondered if he would be back for this season, or leave for the NFL.
After coming back he says he doesn’t regret it, and said working under first year defensive back coach Corey Raymond, may have been worth it by itself.
“He’s a technique guy, so I learned a lot from him by being here, more than I did with Coach (Marvin) Sanders,” Dennard said. ” Not to knock Coach Sanders at all. Coach Sanders was a very good coach, but Coach Raymond taught me a lot of things with my technique and stuff.”
Some of the stuff Dennard said that coach Sanders went over was playing with in the scheme. He said coach Raymond was more of teaching how to be a corner back. Dennard said those techniques included back pedaling and pre-snap alignments.
With Iowa coming into town on Friday, the biggest question, and test Dennard faced at the press conference, and will face on Friday was Hawkeye senior wide receiver Marvin McNutt.
“I’m looking forward to it, because I know he’s one of the better receivers in the Big Ten, and I’m just trying to go out there and have fun and compete with him,” Dennard said. “I just go out there and play my game. I know I can jump with him, I know I can run with him and I can stay physical with him. I just play my own game.”
Rumors of junior running back Rex Burkhead being seen in a walking boot was confirmed by Pelini on Wednesday. “He is fine,” Pelini said. The boot is for protective reasons off the field according to Pelini.
As far as Punter Brett Maher is concerned Pelini said he will be fine as well, and will play Friday.
Junior defensive end Eric Martin is another story, after suffering a foot injury against Michigan, Pelini said the coaching staff will have to see if he can go. “We’ll find out,” Pelini said . “We’ll see how he’s doing. He (Martin) went out there and got some reps today. We’ll see how he comes back from them.”
Pelini said not being in the Big 10 Championship Game will not change how he looks at injuries.
“I don’t worry about really the next week,” Pelini said. “You have to do what you have to do to win the game, more so when it’s the last game of the year knowing we won’t play for a while. You have to try and do what you have to do to win the football game.