LINCOLN — A pair of former Blackshirts who were honored Saturday made no bones about their feelings about who should be the head coach of the Nebraska football team.
“Bo is the right leader for this team,” ex-Husker and NFL veteran Kyle Vanden Bosch said.
Vanden Bosch was in attendance Saturday — his first time since a spring game several years ago — as the guest assistant coach.
He had breakfast with Pelini Saturday morning. He knows all about the obscenity-laced tape released during the week.
And more important, he admits to being a proud Blackshirt.
“I still take that very seriously,” he said.
But Vanden Bosch understands the landscape of college football. You're not going to dominate week in and week out, he said.
He said he likes the direction of Nebraska's program.
“Soon this team will be back in major bowl games and winning games the way fans are so accustomed to,” he said.
A former teammate of Vanden Bosch at Nebraska agreed. Keyou Craver, who spent three seasons in the NFL, was inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.
An All-America cornerback, Craver said he's also deeply passionate about his Blackshirt ties. In fact, he was asked to wear red for Saturday's ceremony.
He showed up in black.
“Red?” he said. “Are you kidding me?”
Craver, who works and coaches at Lincoln High, said he can sympathize with the way problems can snowball on defense. He was part of the NU defense that was embarrassed 62-36 by Colorado in 2001.
“I know how it feels to be on the other end of 60 points and 500 yards,” he said. “If they are champions, they are going to capitalize on this and use it as motivation.”
Jack and others get their own tunnel walk
Even with former NFL players on the sidelines, the biggest celebrity Saturday may have been a 7-year-old.
Jack Hoffman, the youngster who captured national attention and picked up an ESPY for his touchdown run during the spring game, was part of a group of pediatric brain cancer patients who came out of the locker room and tunnel just before the team as part of Nebraska's day of awareness for the disease.
Everywhere Hoffman went, he was offered first-bumps and high-fives. Thursday, Hoffman's eighth birthday, has been designated as National Pediatric Brain Cancer Awareness Day.
Wearing his No. 22 jersey in honor of former Husker Rex Burkhead, Hoffman walked out with the other youngsters and NU's captains just before the Tunnel Walk. Nebraska cornerback Ciante Evans held a child, Aidan Spangler, in his arms as he came onto the field.
Just before the second half, Hoffman got a special birthday shout-out from his favorite player, Burkhead.
Both of Hoffman's parents are alumni of South Dakota State, Nebraska's opponent Saturday. Jack was wearing a yellow shirt under his red jersey. Any chance he was giving the Jackrabbits a little love?
His dad, Andy Hoffman, shook his head no.
“That's a Husker shirt,” he said.
Prospect from Philadelphia has impressive list of suiters
Just one official visitor for Saturday's game, although it was one that brought a hefty offer list to town.
Defensive back prospect DeAndre Scott took his first official visit of the year to Lincoln. Scott, a unanimous three-star prospect, holds offers from Arizona State, Miami, South Carolina and Texas, among others.
The 5-foot-8, 180-pounder out of Philadelphia was wearing a black shirt with the skull and crossbones synonymous with the Nebraska defense.
Husker commit D.J. Foster out of Lincoln Southeast was wearing a brace on his right hand/wrist area. The Knights fell to Omaha Creighton Prep Friday night.
The 2014 class already took a hit earlier in the week when Gretna's Mick Stoltenberg, another in-state Husker commit, had surgery to repair meniscus damage. He will miss the rest of the season for the Class B No. 1 Dragons.
Gerry gets some applause from home-state fans
The two-man operation at quarterback got started long before kickoff Saturday.
Both Tommy Armstrong and Ron Kellogg were a part of the pregame introductions on stadium screens.
To be fair, there were more than just the actual starters included (two fullbacks, six offensive linemen, multiple defensive players).
Husker freshman Nate Gerry got solid applause from those in red and those in blue when he was introduced.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound linebacker was somewhat of a folk hero during his time at Washington High School in Sioux Falls, S.D. Fans of South Dakota State gave a hearty cheer for Gerry when his picture hit the stadium's screens.
This one wasn't hard to predict
You knew it was coming.
With SDSU's mascot being a rabbit, an Elmer Fudd/Bugs Bunny reference was sure to pop up somewhere. The best one actually came on a sign in the Husker student section.
“Be vewwwwwy quiet,” the sign read. “I'm hunting wabbits.”
Jumping the gun on balloon release
A false start on a few Nebraska fans came just before a false start on the Huskers' offense.
After Ameer Abdullah caught a pass and scampered 28 yards to the South Dakota State 1-yard line — a play that first appeared to be a touchdown — a good number of NU faithful released their red balloons that customarily accompany NU's first score.
Just before the Huskers took a snap on first-and-goal, freshman tight end Cethan Carter was flagged for a false start.
NU scored one play later and those still with their balloons in hand released them.
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• Video: Nebraska coach Bo Pelini talks after the game:
• Video: Nebraska QB Tommy Armstrong talks after the game:
• Video: Nebraska QB Ron Kellogg talks after the game:
• Video: Postgame analysis with Sam McKewon:
• Video: Jack Hoffman and others get their own tunnel walk: