Published Saturday, October 5, 2013 at 12:01 am / Updated at 12:49 am
FOOTBALL
From the sidelines: Wind, chilly temps cool Memorial Stadium

LINCOLN — From tank tops to turtlenecks and suntan lotion to stocking caps.

That was the change in what Nebraska fans were wearing in just a few short weeks.

Saturday's game-time temperature of 45 degrees was just about half of the announced temp of the Huskers' first two games of the season.

The most popular place on the NU sideline was in front of a couple of heaters positioned near each end. The smartest outfit in the stands? A red and white Yeti costume. The loneliest spot in all of Memorial Stadium had to be the ice cream concession under the South Stadium stands.

When the sun did peek out from behind clouds, it made things much less chilly. But when the wind kicked up, it felt more like late November than the first weekend of October.

Speaking of that wind …

From the moment specialists came out for pregame warm-ups (about 90 minutes before kickoff) it was evident that wind would be a factor.

NU kicker Pat Smith drilled a wind-aided kick from the opposite 45-yard line through the uprights — that's a 65-yarder.

Husker cheerleaders chased signs, and those in charge of flags had their work cut out for them much of the afternoon.

Even shooting the hot dog gun took a little adjusting.

Perhaps the most evident display of the wind came after Nebraska's first score. The long-standing tradition of releasing red balloons turned into quite a spectacle with balloons flying in nearly every direction.

Nice call on sign

The person who put the sign that read “#SCtop10” with the ESPN logo on the red fence in the East Stadium was onto something.

A one-handed snag by Nebraska receiver Kenny Bell in the third quarter was surely one of the top plays around the country and figured to land on the Top 10 list on “SportsCenter” Saturday night.

Bell jumped and plucked a high throw out of the air with one hand extended and almost behind his head, then sprinted the rest of the 37 yards for a score.

The play drew plenty of oohs and ahs — and had lots of people pointing to the white sign.

Quiet recruiting day

A rare home game with no official visitors made for a light sideline prior to kickoff.

NU had hosted at least one official visitor for each of its first four home games and is tentatively scheduled for at least one in all but the season finale against Iowa, although that Black Friday contest figures to draw an official visit or two from prospects looking to make a late decision.

A handful of high school recruits on unofficial visits were on hand, and other NU sports were hosting possible future Huskers.

But what typically is a busy and crowded area before games — the Nebraska sideline — was a little sparse.

Anybody bring a stapler?

At times, Illinois' bench area looked more like a business office than a football sideline.

The Illini had a couple of short metal benches, but the team had most of its meetings sitting on blue plastic office chairs — the kind that don't fold and aren't exactly built for comfort.

Both the offense and defense had their own set, a total of about 30 chairs, that looked like they may have been picked up at an office supply store on the bus ride to Memorial Stadium.

Both teams were pretty in pink

A different shade of red popped up in plenty of places.

Keeping with the theme of Breast Cancer Awareness month, both Nebraska and Illinois had their own touch of pink.

Husker players wore pink headbands, arm sleeves and leg bands. Both NU and Illini cheerleaders toted pink pompoms.

It was the only chance Nebraska will have to wear the color at home. The next Husker game in Lincoln isn't until next month.

First series had coach beaming

He may be the first face that the defense sees when things go wrong, but Rick Kaczenski wanted to be there waiting after the unit's early success.

The Husker D-line coach looked like a kid waiting by the Christmas tree for his parents to wake up after a three-and-out on the game's opening possession.

The Blackshirts forced a punt, and each got a double-fisted high-five from Kaczenski when they got back to the bench. There were enough smiles to go around.

A young unit that has been gashed numerous times early this season seemed to be enjoying the positive vibes of a good start.

Tunnel Walk video gets an update

A new pre-Tunnel Walk video for the start of the conference season had a different flavor.

The video featured a couple of highlights from the early season and a snapshot or two from the Husker locker room. It ended with the Big Ten logo.

Included was a quick glimpse of freshman quarterback Tommy Armstrong, Nebraska's starter under center for its past two games.

In what was hardly a surprise, both that view and Armstrong's pregame introduction as the starter drew the largest applause of the morning from the Husker faithful.

Extra points

Ľ NU's national championship women's bowling team was recognized during a first-quarter break in action. The Husker players and coaches — those not holding the hardware, at least — all “threw the bones.”

Ľ Senior defensive end Jason Ankrah replaced injured QB Taylor Martinez in the captains unit. Ankrah joined defensive back Ciante Evans, receiver Quincy Enunwa and guard Spencer Long for the coin toss.

Ľ Former NU linebacker Will Compton was on hand. He's on the practice squad with the Washington Redskins, who have a bye week.

Contact the writer: Nick Rubek

nickrubek@gmail.com    |   402-850-0781    |  

Nick Rubek covers Nebraska football, Omaha Beef football and high school sports throughout the state, including football, wrestling and soccer.

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