Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

As Construction Winds Down, Anticipation Increases for Huskers’ 2022 Season

July 31, 2022

Anticipation.

Construction.

Those words capture the Nebraska football team’s first post-practice media availability, which began roughly 23 minutes after the latest projected time for the first interviewees to arrive Friday.

And no, this isn’t a subtle tribute to Carly Simon, though the title song of her 1971 album, “Anticipation,” might capsulize the wait and then what was said, late, late morning.

More about that later.

First, “construction,” which could be taken literally or metaphorically Friday.

Sounds of work on Nebraska’s $155-million, 350,000-square-foot North Stadium Expansion project provided a backdrop for the interviews, pounding and buzzing and so forth. An unwanted backdrop, you might say. But the sounds were those of progress.

And you can add “progress,” of another kind, to “anticipation” and “construction,” underlying that first post-practice media availability. It underscores expectations for Scott Frost’s fifth season as coach. There needs to be progress in the win-loss columns, or . . . who knows? No insight there.

Defense was the order of the day, with coordinator Erik Chinander and assistants Mike Dawson Travis Fisher, as well as a handful of players.

Among topics addressed by Dawson, for example, was one related to a change in designation for the position group including Garrett Nelson and Caleb Tannor.

Tannor was among the first to arrive for interviews.

Previously those at their position were listed in the media guide as “OLB,” outside linebacker. Now they’re listed as “EDGE,” with Dawson the “DL/EDGE” coach.

Does that reflect a change in alignment and/or responsibility?

“Naw,” said Dawson. “I think the question about, ‘Hey, am I a defensive end or an outside linebacker?’ . . . I think the ‘EDGE’ term has kind of become fashionable. I think a lot of people watch the (NFL) draft, and those guys refer to (it) as that.

“I think in most defenses in this day and age, especially when you’re a multiple front like we are, when you’re playing in the ‘3-4’ spacing, you’re an outside linebacker, and then when we move down to our ‘4-down’ spacing, those guys are truly defensive ends. So they’re a combination of both.”

As a result, “they’ve got to be able to do all three things: rush the quarterback, set the edge in the run game and also be able to drop a little bit,” Dawson said.

The coaches answered every question, always complimentary when referring to players.

Junior defensive lineman Colton Feist, who walked on from Yutan, Nebraska, and has dealt with injuries and seen limited action, drew mention for his progress.

Sophomore defensive lineman Ty Robinson, the returning “veteran” up front with five starts, was engaging, funny at times talking about his “bodyguard” role.

Defensive success starts up-front, Dawson said.

(The same is true for the offense, by the way.)

Now for “Anticipation,” the song, the lyrics to which would work to summarize the day. For the purposes here let’s limit it to the refrain:

Anticipation, anticipation
Is makin’ me late
Is keeping me waitin

Waiting for Aug. 27, when the Huskers open the season against Northwestern in Dublin, Ireland, a must-win if they’re to build some momentum going into the fourth game against Oklahoma, at Memorial Stadium, underscores everything—and as we’ve seen in recent seasons, there should be no looking past North Dakota and Georgia Southern, with new head coach Clay Helton.

A positive for the Huskers is, Helton’s in his first year in Statesboro.

Anyway, anticipation of the Ireland trip and game one increases daily and the spin is positive, as it typically is at this time of year. No games have been played, so your team can be as good you can imagine. “Everybody feels pretty good right now,” Nebraska Athletic Director Trev Alberts said at Big Ten Media Days.

Anticipation. Construction. Progress. Positivity. Take your pick.

Or, better yet, put them all together.

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