Matt Jarzynka had a good day Saturday. The senior defensive linemen from the small central Nebraska town of Loup City got to play in his first game as a Husker, then it got even better when he got a sack. No, Saturday was a great day.
“That’s my entire life’s goal accomplished right there, to get to play in Memorial Stadium, and get a sack on top of that,” Jarzynka said.
Saturday was the day this season for the second- and third-teamers to have their moment, as the Huskers quickly took control against Bethune-Cookman and gave those seldom- or never-before-used players a chance to play during the Huskers’ 45-9 victory.
Guys like Chris Walker, the redshirt freshman defensive lineman from Lincoln East who played his first game and had a tackle. And Jordan Paup, a walk-on from Central City and one of Jarzynka’s best friends, who got to play at the same time as Jarzynka. And Simon Otte, a freshman from York who got a tackle at the end of the game.
Jarzynka is from a town with about 1,000 residents, where they play eight-man football these days, and during halftime of football games, Jarzynka played in the marching band.
He always wanted to play for the Huskers.
“I spent a lot of days working at the farm with my dad, and just listening to a lot of Husker games, and I always wanted to be a part of the program like this,” Jarzynka said.
After Nebraska led 38-3 at halftime, Jarzynka started getting nervous, knowing he might get his chance. He told himself it’s just playing football.
“The guys were playing so well, and I just want to thank all the first-team and second-team guys for getting up enough to let me get in there and get a shot,” Jarzynka said.
His sack came with about 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter on a first-down play.
“I had the quarterback, and I just did my job and ran at the quarterback and got kind of lucky, I guess,” he said.
His big moment may have never have happened. Jarzynka hadn’t played in his first four years in the program. This summer he didn’t train with the team, instead taking an internship to help prepare for his career after college. He’s an agribusinesses major. The coaches allowed him to come back and help on the scout team, but he wondered if it was worth it.
“This is exactly why I’m here, and this is why I stuck it out," Jarzynka said.
The starters were glad they’d done the work to get the backups a chance. When Mick Stoltenberg stepped to the podium before taking any questions from the media he began by making a statement about Jarzynka.
“I just want to start out by giving a shout-out to Matt Jarzynka — No. 47 from Loup City, Nebraska,” Stoltenberg said. “I came in with that kid five years ago; he was a walk-on here. He’s worked his ass off every single day and didn’t complain once. He’s given all he’s had to this program. For him to get out there and for him to make that (tackle), that was awesome.”
Quarterback Noah Vedral also got to play in his first game since the Wahoo native transferred to Nebraska from Central Florida. With an extra-effort dive, Vedral scored on a 20-yard run.
In the game at running back at the same time as Vedral was Wyatt Mazour, who like Vedral played Class C-1 football for Boone Central.
“When they started to put in the younger guys, Noah Vedral was wondering who the running back was going to be, and I was like, ‘I’m your running back,’ and he looked over at me,” Mazour said. “We didn’t really say anything, but we both knew. It was a pretty special moment.”