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H U S K E R    D A N

November 24, 2009

Thank goodness there were no fireworks, no dippy T-shirts proclaiming "Restore The Order" after Saturday night's victory over a re-energized Kansas State Wildcat team. After the game, there was more of a sense of relief than celebration.
This is not to diminish the win-it was huge for Bo Pelini and for the entire football program. Lose this game and any momentum the Huskers may have had after consecutive conference wins over Baylor, Oklahoma and Kansas would have been lost. Lose this game and Nebraska would have had the distinction of losing the Big 12 North after getting road wins over Missouri and Kansas-both preseason BTN favorites.
Lose and the Huskers may have wound up in Shreveport. Lose to the 'Cats Saturday night and much of the luster of the Bo Pelini Era would have faded.
Indeed, this was a must win for this young Husker football team. On a night the Huskers needed just enough plays to win, they did just that. It wasn't pretty. In fact, at times, it was down right ugly. In the first quarter, Mike McNeill was all alone in the west side of the North end zone and all Zac Lee had to do was just lob the ball to him, but his pass sailed over McNeill's outstretched hands. The Huskers had to settle for a field goal.
And just before the half, the Huskers were in the red zone and Zac, instead of throwing it away, was sacked for a 14 yard loss. And the very next play, he chucked it right into the hands of a K-State defender. Instead of the Huskers having a chance to take command of the game, they came away empty. And for an offense as anemic as the Huskers', every chance in the red zone is precious.
And in the second half when the Huskers had it 3rd and 3, Zac Lee rolled out to pass. But instead of running through the lane that was the size of Ohio and easily picking up the first down, he tossed it to a receiver who was covered and the pass fell incomplete. The Huskers were forced to punt.
It's little things like that, that can make the difference between winning and losing. What is disappointing is that Zac is a junior and this was the Huskers' 11th game of the season.
But it was good to see Zac taking a couple of big time hits in the game and his block on a Helu run was very nice to see. And Zac can throw the occasional block as he did on a Roy Helu, Jr. run.
The Husker Player of the Game award could have easily gone to Husker place kicker and punter, Alex Henery. His two punts that went out of bounds within the K-State 5 yard line were masterpieces. And Damon Banks never busted one for a touchdown. And how about Henery's tackle on a K-State punt return? Awesome.
Or how about Larry Asante's huge hit on K-State running back Keithen Valentine that jarred the ball loose and was recovered by Prince Amukamara on the Husker 5 yard line?
Shades of the Kansas game.
Eric Hagg was assigned to Banks all night long, and did a very good job of keeping #83 from doing too much damage.
It was nice to see that after giving up a first quarter field goal that put the 'Cats up by three, the Huskers responded by scoring 17 unanswered points.
And what can you say about Ndamukong Suh that hasn't already been said? The man is amazing-perhaps the best D-lineman I've ever seen at Nebraska. There have been many great ones through the years, but none I can remember who has been as dominating as #93. If he isn't one of the first five taken in next year's NFL draft, I'll be shocked. And on Senior Day, it was great to be a part of the 86,000 people thanking him for his years as a Cornhusker.
With all the controversy this past week about Kansas head football coach, Mark Mangino who has been under fire for verbally abusing his players, former Kansas and current Husker assistant coach Tim Beck has remained silent. Although Bob Stoops and Bill Snyder have come to Mangino's defense, Beck's silence is noted.
I was able to finally meet world traveler and photojournalist, Dean Jacobs before Saturday's game with K-State. He had come to the game to take sideline pictures for the Fremont Tribune. You can see his photos and his comments on Dean's blog.
Someone wrote me recently asking if we were still sending Husker Care Packages overseas to our service personnel. The answer is yes!
But we need your help now, especially since Christmas is just around the corner. We are currently out of funds and can not meet the demands of those troopers currently on our list.
For all those who would like to contribute to Husker Dan's Army, send your tax deductible donations to:
Gary McGirr
Northeast Kansans For Nebraska
3610 SW Woodvalley Terrace
Topeka, KS 66614
Make your checks payable to:
Northeast Kansans For Nebraska
Attn: Husker Dan's Army
Remember, for every $50 we get in donations, the Red Zone in Omaha sends a Husker Care Package that is filled with Husker memorabilia such as T-shirts, sweatshirts, coins, Husker media guides etc. The Packages are sent to any trooper who registers with us and who is currently deployed in the Middle East.
Also, in association with the University of Nebraska HuskerVision, we send Husker game day DVDs overseas. To register for the Husker Care Packages and the DVD list, just email me at HuskerDan@cox.net and we will included you.
We need to know your name, APO address, email address and how long you will be deployed in the Middle East.
Please donate so that we can bring a touch of Nebraska to these brave men and women. Remember, they don't ask for much. Your donations will let our troopers know that we care about them.
As we enjoy the many blessings of this Thanksgiving, please keep our troopers in your thoughts.
"Lord, keep our servicemen and women safe, whether they serve at home or overseas. Hold them in your loving hands and protect them as they protect us. Let's all keep those currently serving and those who have gone before them in our thoughts. They are the reason for the many freedoms we enjoy.

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