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H U S K E R    D A N

HUSKER OPENER GOES X-ZAC LEE AS PLANNED, NU CRUSHES THE OWLS, 49-3
On a beautiful Saturday night in Lincoln, Nebraska, 85,719 fans got to see the unveiling of the 2009 edition of Bo Ball. And considering it was QB Zac Lee's as well as several other players' first start as Huskers, the night didn't disappoint.

Sure, Zac tossed an interception and had trouble at times getting the team to the line of scrimmage quickly enough, but given this was his first career start, he performed very well. That should come as no surprise. He's a junior and has had a couple of years in the system.
LOOK OUT
There is one flaw that hopefully Zac will correct as he gets more playing time. His tendency to focus on his intended receivers could come back to bite him in the keester when he faces defenses that are better than the one he saw Saturday night. Smarter defenses are going to read his eyes and will likely increase Zac's chances of being intercepted.

And to make sure that Zac eased into his starting role, Professor Watson called safe, short passes and had him handing off to Roy Helu, Jr. And as expected, Howie's Owls put eight and nine guys in the box to stop the run. The idea was to make the young Mr. Lee have to beat them with his arm. That defensive strategy may have worked a few years ago with Jammal Lord, but not this year with Zac Lee.
BEST BLOCK?
Choose your poison: Sell out for the run and get burned by the bomb. Lee connected with Menelik Holt on a 28 yard first quarter TD that saw Holt spin out of contact and race into the north end zone. And possibly the best block of the entire night came on the same play when Curenski Gilleylen laid out the Owl defender who had the angle on Holt.

"Oh momma, that was a thing of beauty!", the late Lyell Bremser would have said.
STARRY NIGHT
It was a night of stars, both the celestial and football kind. "T-Rex" Burkhead made is debut in the second quarter and showed he can deliver the goods. He ran, as expected, with authority and great vision.
FLY ME TO THE BALL
It was nice to see Will Compton and Sean Fisher flying to the ball. And Baker Steinkuhler doing his Zach Potter impression when he blocked an Owl field goal attempt was great to see.

The receiving corps seems to have picked up where Todd Petersen and Nate Swift left off last year. Wide receivers Niles Paul, Curenski Gilleylen and Menelik Holt and tight end Mike McNeill look as if they can be great targets for Lee.
THE GREENING OF THE RED
It wasn't surprising to see true freshman Cody Green enter the game in the fourth quarter. With a season-ending injury to QB Kody Spano in fall camp, Green's chances of playing increased dramatically.

I'm not sure what can be made of Green's play Saturday night, considering the game was over at that point and the Owl defenders were pretty much beat up. But know this, playing Green was absolutely essential to the success of this year's Husker football team. You don't want to go to a place like Blacksburg, Lawrence or Waco (yes, Waco) and have to pull a kid off the bench who's never taken a snap.
YOU'RE IN GOOD HANDS
Green is Zac Lee's (and the Huskers') insurance policy. I don't know the last time a Husker freshman QB played in the very first game he was eligible to play.

To be sure, Green is listed as a true freshman, but he left high school a semester early, enrolled at Nebraska in January and got a chance to learn the offense during spring camp. Having said that, fans need to remember that less than a year ago, he was playing high school football. He' still, well, green.

Green is already being compared with Tommie Fraizer-obviously not based on Green's collegiate performance-that would be unfair to Cody and Tommie, but for the intangibles Green possesses: maturity, poise and confidence way beyond his youth.

It's scary to think of how good Green will be in three or four years.

And let's not forget, Zac Lee is only a junior. It will be interesting to see how he develops in his two remaining years. It's going to be exciting.
ONE FOR THE TEAM
My thoughts also turn to Latravis Washington who left his linebacker position last spring to shore up the thinned QB ranks. It's too early to tell how much, or even if Latravis will get to play this year. You can be sure he won't be going back to play linebacker. He may be needed down the stretch to play quarterback.

(Remember '94? Tommie went down and Brook Berringer took over. Brook went down and then Matt Turman took over. And when Matt got injured in the K-State game that same year, Brook took over again.)

Does that put Latravis in No Man's Land? It's tough, if he sits on the bench this fall, he loses twice-he won't get any snaps at either position. Latravis is taking one for The Team. He should be applauded for putting his team ahead of himself.
RANDOM THOUGHTS
1.) I had the opportunity to present Husker Danno Awards to Bill Moran (The Betty Walker Award for Most Outstanding Husker Fan) and to Gary McGirr, president of the Northeast Kansans For Nebraska for the Most Outstanding Husker Alumni association. Congratulations to both! The awards were given with the help of David Max at the Huskerpedia Tailgate Party.
2.) Mrs. Husker Dan and I listened to the post game broadcast and were appalled at the overwhelming number of commercials. Greg Sharpe re-broadcasts the best plays of the game. I really like that segment, but does each highlight have to have its own commercial? Pretty soon commercials will have their own sponsors. Sigh...
3.) And while I'm on the subject, at least twice Husker radio colorman Adrian Fiala announced that the final score of Saturday night's Husker game was 45-3. We left early, so we didn't know for sure. Adrian: Wazzzup?
4.) Tony Falcone, director of the Cornhusker Marching Band is the proud father of twin girls born this summer.
5.) And what happened to his goatee?
6.) I like the new HuskerVision screens.
7.) In case you were wondering. This is my tenth anniversary of writing Husker Dan columns and the seventh year with Huskerpedia.
8.) Sweetcorn is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. I had some of Amy's Gold sweetcorn from Wenninghoff's in Omaha this summer. It was the best. Sadly, AG is done for the season.
9.) One of the things I like about Bo is that he has never whined about the program he inherited. He makes no excuses. He knew before he took over as head coach the state of the Husker football program and he's doing his best to improve it.
10.) Several of you took me to task for saying that Va. Tech's game with Alabama was at Blacksburg. Mea culpa. When I looked at the Hokies' schedule, it didn't say @Alabama, so I figured it must be at Va. Tech. Ooops, it was at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
11.) N. Prabha Unnithan, a professor at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins brought to my attention that I had misspelled Mahatma Gandhi's last name. I think I should at least be given some credit for getting his first name correct, no?
12.) While Husker fans are no doubt pleased with the Huskers' performance Saturday night, we just don't know how good (or bad) Florida Atlantic is.
13.) The only helicopter that was seen near Memorial Stadium were the three that flew over the Stadium just prior to kickoff. And while no helicopters landed on the field, the one thing that did, was the Owls' head coach, Howard Schnellenberger when he became the unwilling participant in a sideline play.
14.) And no, a 46 point win over the Owls in no way makes up for the gut-wrenching loss to the Hurricanes in the 1984 Orange Bowl. Not even close.
15.) Is this Dan Hawkins' last season at Colorado?
16.) How good is Missouri? How good (or bad) is Illinois?
17.) Did the Sooners' national title hopes end with Sam Bradford's injury?
18.) Are the Longhorns licking their chops for their showdown with Oklahoma October 17th?
19.) And what about the Sooner-Hurricane game at Miami October 3rd? The Sooners could come into Lincoln with 3 losses (BYU, Miami and Texas). Wouldn't that be a bummer?
20.) How good is Georgia? How good are the Oklahoma State Cowboys? That's what I love about the game of college football!
NEXT UP
Nebraska will take on the Big Bad Red Wolves of Arkansas State Saturday at 1:00 in Lincoln. They are going to try to huff and puff and blow our house down, but this will be Game #2 in the Sun Belt league playoff and the Huskers will be 2-0. Look for the game to be close in the first half-they might be even better than the Owls, but the Huskers will pull away in the second half.

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