Wyoming vs. Nebraska, 9/10

Nebraska safety Kieron Williams (26) returns an interception for a touchdown against Wyoming on Sept. 10.

Kieron Williams' "hot take" regarding Nebraska's alternate football uniforms was, well, rather chilly.

"It's just a uniform," the Husker junior safety said this week.

Williams' opinion was somewhat surprising in the context of the unbridled enthusiasm among many of his teammates for the "Husker Chrome" uniforms that Nebraska will wear Saturday night at Northwestern.

"I mean, I think once you start doing all that and you start trying to get pretty, it's not football — it's modeling," Williams said. "If you wear the uniforms and you lose, what do those uniforms really matter?"

Williams' regard for the uniforms actually seems to jibe with his businesslike demeanor for Nebraska's first road game of the season, which also happens to be the Huskers' Big Ten Conference opener.

A native of Shreveport, Louisiana, Williams has strong opinions about what he feels is the right mentality for 20th-ranked Nebraska (3-0) to take into Ryan Field in Evanston, Illinois.

"It's just being focused and making it about business and not making it about, 'Oh, I've never been to this city before,'" he said. "Or, 'Oh, what's the hotel going to be like?' It's trying to do your best just to focus on the game and focus on what matters, and even though you're away from home, try to make it as close to a home-game experience as you can."

Williams cites Nebraska's 2014 game at Northwestern, a 38-17 triumph, as an example of the Huskers having the proper frame of mind. He was a true freshman at the time who played mostly on special teams.

"There wasn't a lot of extracurriculars going on before the game," he said. "It was, let's go there, let's win the game, and let's go home."

Williams, of course, now has a much more prominent role on the defense. He's started all three games this season and leads the team with 22 tackles. He also has intercepted two passes for a unit that ranks fourth nationally with seven picks and is 16th in pass-efficiency defense.

He recorded seven tackles in last week's 35-32 win against then-No. 22 Oregon. He also broke up a deep pass intended for speedster Charles Nelson as the Ducks tried to rally on their final possession.

"We were in one of our base defenses and knew that No. 6 (Nelson) was a guy they like to get the ball to," said the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Williams. "We just did our best to be in a defense where we could protect against the deep ball. I was just able to make a play on the ball."

Nebraska's secondary had a good day against Oregon, helping limit the Ducks to 146 passing yards, 155 below their season average. Their longest pass play covered 25 yards, a figure that was pleasing to the Husker coaching staff in the context of the big-play bug that plagued the Blackshirts throughout last season.

"We definitely put in time to make sure we were in the right positions, but I think you have to do that every single week," Williams said. "I don't think it can be, 'Oh, it's Oregon week.' Or, 'Oh, it's Northwestern week,' because if you do that, then you won't be prepared for the next team (on the schedule). I think there will be some lag, or some downfall."

A large segment of Nebraska's fervent fan base could help the Huskers avoid a downfall at Ryan Field, a stadium Big Red fans took by storm in 2012 and 2014.

"I don't even understand how we do have so many fans at this game in particular, but I'm excited to see our fans travel and crowd their stadium and make their fans wonder how our fan base is so great," Williams said. "It'll be great to have our fans there and just make it as much of a home-game experience as possible."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.


Husker columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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