LINCOLN — The name most associated with Bo Pelini’s defensive success at Nebraska was back in the building Saturday.
Former Husker All-American Ndamukong Suh was on hand to watch his former team, catching a little down time as his Detroit Lions squad has a bye week.
Suh, a Heisman finalist during his senior season at NU in 2009, was recognized as one of the top defensive players in Husker history during a break in first-half action.
He said he always gets up for a trip back to his old stomping grounds.
“I look forward to walking through that tunnel and getting chills,” Suh said. “It never gets old. I love walking through that tunnel, being able to touch the horseshoe. It just feels at home.”
Suh, wearing a red leather jacket, said he got into Lincoln late and didn’t have a chance to talk to the team, but hoped to after Saturday’s game.
That didn’t stop him from getting into a couple of defensive huddles and even talking technique and scheme with a defensive lineman or two.
He got the customary “Suuuuuuh” serenade almost everywhere he went. During his introduction to the Memorial Stadium faithful, Suh waved to the crowd and “threw the bones.”
The loudest ovation came during a video that showed him throwing ex-Texas quarterback Colt McCoy for a big loss in the Big 12 championship game.
And what does he think of a Blackshirt squad that has taken some lumps over the last few years since he left?
“I think, honestly, that these guys have all the tools,” he said. “I know without question coaching is great with Coach Bo.
“It’s about heart. Playing defense, you’ve got all elements against you no matter what. The rules are against you, everything is against you, and you’ve just got to bow up and make sure you go out there and swing and fight every single play that you’re out there. And that’s all those guys gotta do. They just gotta continue to fight. Not everything’s going to go your way, and you’ve got to understand that as a defensive player.”
Suh said he has no doubts that Pelini’s defensive style and scheme are capable.
Often criticized around the league for his style of play, Suh said he still calls Pelini for advice in tough situations.
“He’s a player’s coach, and that’s not just a cliche for me,” he said. “He lives that every day of his life.”
Coming off a big win against Dallas a week ago, Suh said he and the Lions have to take on a similar stance as the Huskers down the stretch.
“Go to work,” he said.
Former Huskers Amukamara, Gomes also back for game
Suh wasn’t the only former Husker and current NFL player in attendance.
Lions teammate DeJon Gomes and New York Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara were both hanging around the Husker sideline.
Gomes was the honorary assistant coach for Saturday’s game.
NU women’s soccer team honored for clinching Big Ten championship
The Nebraska women’s soccer team was recognized during a break in first-quarter action Saturday.
The Huskers, fresh off a 3-1 win over Indiana to clinch the regular-season Big Ten title, waved to the crowd and stood around their trophy. Each player sported a black Big Ten Champions hat.
NU is the top seed in next week’s conference tournament in Champaign, Ill.
Martinez, other injured players watch game from press box
A familiar face was seated in the press box Saturday, but it was one that is more accustomed to being in the action.
Starting quarterback Taylor Martinez, nursing a couple of injuries, sat with a handful of other injured players in the top row of the stadium’s press area.
Martinez started a week ago, but was apparently too dinged up to be down on the field Saturday. Receiver Jamal Turner and defensive lineman Kevin Williams, who also both sat out Saturday, were also in the press box.
Injured tight end Jake Long was on the sideline for the entirety, as was receiver Kenny Bell, who left the game with an undisclosed injury.
During most of the biggest moments in the second half (an Avery Moss interception return to tie the game, a Tommy Armstrong interception), Martinez didn’t show much emotion.
Injured players in the press box are not uncommon. Plenty have done it before when the NU medical staff thought it better not to be standing for four hours.
Several official visitors on hand for home game
A modest group of official visitors were on the sidelines prior to Saturday’s game, taking in the sights and sounds of the first Husker home game in nearly a month.
Offensive line prospect Nick Gates, a three-star recruit according to Rivals.com, stood near the Husker offensive line drills and chatted with NU defensive line commit Peyton Newell.
Devante Bond, a three-star linebacker out of the California junior college ranks, was joined by receiver prospect Robert Lockhart and athlete Jaevon Walton from Louisiana.
Walton is a Louisiana-Lafayette commit.