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Husker senior quarterback Joe "Second Chance" Ganz should put Ron Prince and the rest of the K-State Wildcat football program at the top of his Christmas mailing list this year. For the second time in a little over a year, Joe Ganz has been named Big 12 Offensive Player Of The Week for his performance against the Wildcats. Last year, Joe had an off-the-charts performance, going 30 for 40 with 0 interceptions, 510 yards and an astonishing 7, count 'em, 7 touchdown passes! And Saturday, Joe was 16 for 25 with 1 interception and 2 TDS and rushed 11 times for 95 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Joe Ganz might not have the skills of a Colt McCoy, Graham Harrell, Sam Bradford or a Chase Daniel, but Ganz seems to maximize every once of talent he has. All season long, Joe has been the spark plug of the Husker offense.

He seems to be unfazed by success or set-backs. When he gets knocked down, he gets right back up and focuses on the next play. Ganz often makes the quarterback job look effortless. He is a kid who works hard, listens well and has performed at a high level every week.

Husker fans don't even want to think about where the Huskers would be this year without Joe Ganz under center. He reminds me of Zac Taylor who starred at QB for the Huskers in '05-'06. Both players have great leadership skills, command the respect of their teammates and coaches and are exceptional role models for the Husker football program.

And when Sam Keller was chosen as the starter before the beginning of the '07 football season, Ganz handled the situation with dignity and class. We were told then by former Husker head coach Bill Callahan that the race between Ganz and Sam Keller was a dead heat, but Keller got the nod.

So why wasn't Joe Ganz asked to play in the third quarter last year when the Huskers trailed at the half 35-0 to a so-so Oklahoma State team? The only possible explanation was that Callahan had made a deal with Sam Keller and his dad that barring injury, Sam was Callahan's guy for the year, no matter what. But Joe hung in there and got his chance after Sam suffered a shoulder injury in last year's Texas game. Joe will leave some gigantic shoes to fill next fall. Congratulations, Joe. You deserve all the accolades you get. (And yes, it must be noted that neither Graham Harrell nor Sam Bradford played last Saturday.)
I've been away from Huskerpedia for a couple of weeks, mostly due to business commitments. I had started columns after the Oklahoma and Kansas games, but didn't have time to finish them. Here are some observations:
The Huskers' first quarter collapse at Norman was due largely (in my view) to the fact that the Huskers were trying too hard. They were pressing, especially in the first quarter. They knew this was an important game for Bo Pelini, but there was too much of a deer-in-the-headlights mentality that didn't help the Huskers' cause that night. And let's not forget that Nebraska was steamrolled by one of the best college football teams in the country.
Ndamukong Suh's TD catch was a thing of beauty! The Huskers still committed too many mistakes, but still managed to win. I have to wonder why the Huskers were only a 6 1/2 point favorite going into the K-State game last week.
Now that the Blackshirts are officially back, why did Bo Pelini chose to award them after his team beat an unranked KU team? The only reason I can think of is that Bo wanted to recognize the progress he believes his defense has shown. But is a win over an unranked team that scored 5 TDs on your defense cause for celebration?
Happy birthday to Eric Crouch who turned 30 this week!
The line is from "Field Of Dreams", one of my favorite sports movies. It's a story about people coming from different parts of the country to a special athletic field in the Midwest, to honor the tradition of a sport and the memory of those who played the game.

And on the weekend of November 1st and 2nd in Lincoln, Nebraska, something similar happened. Except those being honored weren't athletes-they were war veterans who for many years have served this great country of ours.

They came by the hundreds to the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel to be part of the first annual "Husker Fans' Salute To The Troops" celebration. They came from all over the country. There were two young soldiers who drove 20 hours non-stop from Ft. Bragg, North Carolina to be a part of the "Salute" weekend. Another told me about all the connecting flights he had to take in order to get to Lincoln from Orange, Texas. Orange is located on the Louisiana-Texas border.

Others came from Wyoming, Kansas and from towns in Nebraska like Omaha, Lincoln and Orchard.

Many of them came for the tour of Memorial Stadium and the new athletic facilities-and of course, to experience their very own Tunnel Walk ceremony. There were a couple of young veterans who had served in Iraq who told me that they were moved to tears when the Tunnel Walk music played as they entered the field at Memorial Stadium.

With the sunny afternoon temps in the mid-70s, there were kids running around on the field, some lying on their backs to soak it all in. Cameras were clicking to capture the moment. People were tossing footballs, kicking field goals and catching TD passes, all the while the Tunnel Walk music played on the new jumbo TV screen in the north end zone.

The vets and their families were taken to and from Memorial Stadium by three beautiful motor coaches donated by Kincaid Motor Coaches of Lincoln. It finally hit me that the celebration was real when I saw the buses pull up in front of the Cornhusker Hotel about 1:15 Saturday afternoon and nearly 300 people got on board.

Later that night, we had a Husker Football Watch party in the ballroom at the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel. Although it was a blowout Husker loss, there weren't many who left the party early. We cheered for anything positive the Huskers did-first downs, pass completions, tackles etc. It didn't matter to the veterans and their families. Everyone was having a great time.

The following morning, we had a brunch for everyone. Former Husker wingback Anthony "Slick" Steels ('79-'81) sang the national anthem. There was also a stirring color guard ceremony.

The "Salute" weekend gave me a chance to visit with many of the troopers who have written me through the years. I got to meet their families and talk with them about what's going on in their lives. There were veterans who served in the wars in Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

There were many times in the planning stages earlier this year, when we hit dead ends and seemingly had no way out. But each time we hit the wall, someone would step up and show us the way out.

Here is a list of people who made the "Salute" weekend the success it was:
David Max and Joe Hudson - HuskerPedia
Without their Huskerpedia web site, none of this would have been possible.
David Fiala president of FuturesOne (Lincoln, NE)
David was gracious enough to cover the cost of providing 100 rooms for the veterans and their families at the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel. David is also a former Nebraska fullback (91-93).
Mike Anderson and Tony Holechek with Anderson Auto Group (Lincoln, NE)
Mike and Tony covered the cost of the Sunday brunch.
Joe Pasant with Kincaid Motor Coaches (Lincoln, NE)
Joe made it possible to transport nearly 300 people to and from Memorial Stadium. The buses and drivers were first class!
Linda Leupold, Administrative Assistant to Husker head football coach Bo Pelini.
Linda did a great job of coordinating our efforts within the University system.
Kelly and Mark Notarfrancesco for their generous donation to the "Salute" weekend.
Double Eagle Beverage for the kegs of beer.
Pepsico for soda and bottled water.
Keith Knight for 100s of bags of Frito-Lay chips.
Major Jonathan Harvey (Ft. Bragg, NC) for his passion, structure and organization of the weekend's activities
Lain Harvey (Jon's beautiful bride) for developing the web site and doing myriad other details like designing and printing tickets, name tags, registration forms etc. Lain was also the official photographer of the "Salute" weekend.
Aaron Babcock editor of Huskers Illustrated magazine
As a result of the piece Aaron posted in his magazine, we had about a dozen people attended the event who otherwise wouldn't have.
Mike Babcock who is a major contributor to HI, donated autographed copies of two of his books, including his latest "Husker Football Vault" classic.
Jason Peter, former Husker All-American and NFL player who donated an autographed copy of his new book, "Hero Of The Underground".
Kevin Kugler and Mike'l Severe for an interview they did with me a few days before the "Salute" weekend.
Karen Cook University of Nebraska Lincoln
Karen was responsible for arranging the tours of Memorial Stadium.
Ross Jernstrom (Omaha, NE) for promoting "Salute" on WOWT's Omaha outlet (Channel 6) and their Lincoln sister station.
Jeff Beals and Trenton Magid for having me on their "Grow Omaha" radio program on KFAB.
Emily Zastrow with the Omaha Newspapers for giving us column space.
Tony Falcone, Director of the Cornhusker Marching Band.
Tony donated many DVDs of the Cornhusker Marching Band.
Gary McGirr, president of the Northeast Kansas For Nebraska Gary kept the "Salute" celebration from derailing so many times. Without his determination, his honesty and integrity, the event wouldn't have been possible.
And thanks to the people who volunteered on "game day" to help such as Jamie and Kylie Ward who drove in from Grand Island and Brian McGlynn and Mrs. Husker Dan from Omaha and Luann Peters and Valerie Green from Lincoln. Bless all of you for making the "Husker Fans' Salute To The Troops" weekend celebration such a success.
Plans are already underway for next year's event. If you'd like to contribute to the "Salute" celebration and to see pictures of this year's event, click here.
The Huskers should be 8-4 after next week when the Huskers host the Colorado Buffaloes. CU is not a very good football team, but the Huskers aren't good enough to overlook any opponent this season. The Huskers should have a lot of success throwing the ball and should be able run effectively, too. Look for the Husker lines to be the difference in the game. The D-line has shown a great deal of improvement over the past few games (save Oklahoma). The O-line, despite some injuries also has continued to improve.

That the Huskers have been able to play well despite having been hit with injuries, dismissals and suspensions speaks well of Bo Pelini and his coaching staff. The Huskers have a very real chance at a 9-4 season. Bo will make sure the Huskers don't lose focus.

Send your comments to .huskerdan@cox.net.  For past Husker Dan columns, click here.