Tunnel Walk

It was a wild scene for the first Tunnel Walk of the Scott Frost era, even though the game got canceled hours later because of thunderstorms.

Scott Frost doesn’t take mulligans. Hit it where it lands. That’s the same for college football. There are no mullys. No do-overs.

But this season opener feels like a restart. Scott Frost Comes Home, Take 2.

When the Huskers run out of the tunnel to play South Alabama on Saturday, this will look a lot more like the team that Bill Moos and Husker Nation signed up for.

The fast pace. The crisp execution. The playmaking at quarterback. Physical stuff in the trenches. A team that plays with purpose and energy and knows where to go and what the heck to do when it gets there.

In many ways, this is like the first game of the Frost Era at Nebraska.

The anticipation and excitement are the same as last Sept. 1 — and probably greater. The expectations are higher. We have the clarity of a 4-8 season. We know what it’s supposed to look like. And what it’s not.

That mark doesn’t get erased. But we also remember the absurdity of last year’s start, a fluky opener, then a major injury and one thing after another. It was so ridiculous that it was almost funny — almost — but now we’ll see who gets the last laugh.

We’ll also see what this team learned through the adversity of an 0-6 start. During that time, Frost found out who wanted to play and who didn’t, who was tough and who wasn’t, who he could count on and so forth. Did it make the team better?

Time to find out.

What’s at stake?

A fast start to 2019. A chance to build momentum. Perhaps a run at 4-0 and making ESPN “GameDay” contemplate visiting Lincoln on Sept. 28.

There’s an urgency to Saturday’s game. It’s on ESPN and recruiting could always use a bump. There’s not necessarily pressure on this season, but these coaches want to win now and they’re used to doing things in a hurry.

Mostly, it’s a chance to start the season the way it’s supposed to start. With the home team taking care of business, the 36-point favorite having a comfortable cover and the coach showing a smile and a wave to the crowd.

And no lightning on the field, unless it’s wearing red.

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Some things I’m looking for in the opener:

» Wan’Dale Robinson: Will he have everyone talking? Will there be a “wow” moment?

» Cameron Jurgens: How comfortable does he look? Is there early chemistry with Boe Wilson and Trent Hixson?

» JD Spielman returning punts: How many will he break this season? Can he do it in Week 1?

» Takeaways and giveaways: It will be a topic all season. How many?

» Kanawai Noa: The transfer receiver from Cal made an easy transition in fall camp. Is he poised to make an immediate impact, a la Darrion Daniels on defense?

» Clarity on the Maurice Washington situation: We’ll know something on Saturday.

» Jahkeem Green: The staff is easing in the 6-foot-5, 315-pound defensive end transfer. How much will he contribute in the opener? He won’t be hard to spot.

» Husker Burgers — breakfast of champions? It’s about time to find out.

Sports columnist

Tom is The World-Herald's lead sports columnist. Since he started in Omaha in 1991, he's covered just about anything you can imagine. Follow him on Twitter @TomShatelOWH. Phone: 402-444-1025.

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