I’m done wondering whether there’s a hard edge to this Nebraska football team.
I’m pretty sure Louisiana-Lafayette stopped, too, after the Huskers scored 27 points on their first five offensive possessions during an impressive 55-0 pasting in Memorial Stadium on Saturday night.
I know for a fact Bo Pelini stopped worrying about his team’s mental state before he walked out of Virginia Tech’s Lane Stadium following last Saturday’s 16-15 loss to the Hokies.
“I know this football team. I don’t think there was a sense of feeling sorry for ourselves,” Pelini said. “Our guys were pissed. To me, there’s a difference.
“We were in control of winning a football game last week, no one else, so feeling sorry for yourself (wouldn’t have done any good). I’m not trying to be cold, it’s just you control what you can control, and once the game is over you move on and you work better and evaluate and get better as a football team.”
Let’s review how that worked out against the Ragin’ Cajuns:
* The defense, which had no takeaways last week, got a season-high three. Check.
* The offense, 4-for-5 in the red zone last week (all field goals) went 4-for-4 (all touchdowns). Check.
* Zac Lee, who was a miserable 11-for-30 in his first road game, came back with a 15-for-18 performance in just more than 21/2 quarters. Check.
* Alex Henery, who’s come close to perfecting the art of the field goal, decided to work on his punting and knocked two inside the Ragin’ Cajuns’ 2-yard line. Check.
* The Huskers’ first shutout since 2006 left them having given up just 27 points this season — the lowest total at the four-game mark since the 1990 team allowed 21. Double check.
“I knew we were going to be OK, because the reason we lost that game (last week) was nothing to do with effort,” senior center Jacob Hickman said. “If the effort’s there, you can always make the changes you need to. That’s the one thing. If you’re missing the effort and the heart, then you’re worried as a team. But there was no question what was going on.
“It was just the mental stuff, and that stuff we can clean up. We did that, for the most part, tonight.”
Let’s also remember that Louisiana-Lafayette was playing its third straight BCS conference opponent. No offense to coach Ricky Bustle, but it showed.
It’s not unheard of for a team from a conference such as the Sun Belt to give one of the big boys a good tussle, or even occasionally stun one (ask Kansas State).
But those kinds of teams usually don’t have enough athletes to rise up week after week. For instance, the Ragin’ Cajuns put a guy at linebacker Saturday who’d never played the position.
That they beat K-State certainly doesn’t bode well for the Wildcats. That they played No. 7 LSU competitively last week speaks highly of Nebraska.
What speaks better volumes about the Huskers is their relentless approach.
“Didn’t skip a beat,” Hickman said of the workouts leading up to Saturday’s game. “Everybody was practicing the same way they had the week before, and that’s a credit to the coaches. Everybody kept the same mentality, because I think everybody realized that we let one go.
“Everybody continues to put that effort there in practice. It’s really good seeing this team mature, in that aspect.
“It’s definitely getting there,” Hickman said. “You’re never quite there. Our goal every game, every week, is to play better than the last week. And I think we did play better this week.
“Next week, we have to do the same thing.”
Given that Nebraska is idle next Saturday, you might think Hickman meant the week after next, when the Huskers open Big 12 play at Missouri.
Trust me, he said what he meant. Teams that have hard edges about themselves don’t relax.
Reach Curt McKeever at 473-7441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.