We did it.
We made it to game day.
For a while there this summer, it didn’t seem like we’d make it by the way each day seemed like it was dragging on forever. Well, we’re finally here and I’ve been bouncing off the walls since waking up at 6am.
Unlike Game Day Eves of season’s past, I slept like a rock. There was insomnia induced by a “What’s Santa Bringing?” level of suspense. With the departure so many of the players we’ve cheered on over the last four years, the 2017 edition of the Huskers feels like a brand new team.
When you’re not quite sure of what to expect, it’s hard to get too worked up. But make no mistake, the excitement is there, especially when it comes to finding out what kind of havoc the new look Blackshirts are going to wreak under Bob Diaco.
The returning faces will help lessen the strangeness of seeing Tanner Lee under center (btw, how is DPE already a senior?) but this team is going to need a little seasoning and breaking in like a fresh pair of underpants.
And the Arkansas State Red Wolves are a great place to start. If the Red Wolves aren’t a team that’s been on your radar, they’re the defending Sun Belt champions, going 8-5 last season and finishing the year with a 31 – 20 Cure Bowl (whatever that one is) win over Scott Frost’s UCF Knights.
The last time the Huskers played the Red Wolves was back in 2012, a day where Taylor Martinez completed 13 of 14 (!) passes and Ameer Abdullah ran for 167 yards in a 42 – 13 win that came a week after a frustrating loss to UCLA in Pasadena.
Gus Malzahn coached the Red Wolves that day in his lone season at the helm in Jonesboro. He took over for Hugh Freeze who bounced to Ole Miss after his only year as head coach. In 2013, Brian Harsin took the reigns from Gus for a season before replacing Chris Petersen of at Boise State.
In other words, what the Red Wolves have lacked in coaching stability, they’ve more than made up for it coaching talent. Current head coach Blake Anderson enters his fourth season with a 25 – 15 record. Rumor has it he qualifies for a statue if he makes it through year five.
In the only other meeting between the Huskers and Red Wolves in 2009, Zac Lee (remember him?) went 27/35 for 340 in leading the good guys to 38 – 9 victory.
It will be interesting to see what kind of numbers the new Lee puts up. As long as he’s tossing those “nice balls” that Mike Riley’s been fond of, a pedestrian final line will be just fine.
There’s no need for the Huskers to get flashy. Use the Red Wolves to work out the kinks and save the really good stuff for next week in Eugene.
And that’s when the season can really begin.
Until then, enjoy this the one. Eat too much. Have some laughs. Text those friends you haven’t heard from since the end of last season. Get pumped about Bob Diaco. Start penciling Tanner Lee into your 2018 fantasy team.
RED WOLVES: 7