LINCOLN — Sooner or later, the humbling arrives. Usually in early adulthood, you learn no matter how good you are at something, there’s another someone as good or even better, and there isn’t much you can do about it.
If you’re a cornerback in football, you’d rather meet that someone in practice than a game. But sometimes you’re Nebraska’s Dicaprio Bootle covering Colorado wide receiver Laviska Shenault last season, and well, there just wasn’t much more that Bootle could have done.
Twice in the second half of NU’s 33-28 loss to CU last season, Bootle covered Shenault on slot fade patterns — deep routes down the sideline. Bootle was never out of phase with Shenault, who never had more than a yard on Bootle. Yet the routes were so good — and quarterback Steven Montez’s passes were, too — that Shenault hauled in 37- and 40-yard gains. The first set up a Colorado touchdown. The second represented the winning touchdown.
“One of them he actually caught with his fingertips,” Bootle recounted Monday. “I saw the photo.”
Bootle and the rest of NU’s defensive backfield are about to see Shenault again in Boulder. And try to hold him to far fewer than the 10 catches and 177 yards he had last season in Lincoln.
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One guy doesn’t win a football game. But the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Shenault — widely projected to be a first-round pick in the 2020 NFL draft — was the difference in Colorado’s win.
NU defensive backs coach Travis Fisher thus expects “urgency” from his guys.
“Know everything about him,” Fisher said. “First name. Last name. Where he went to high school.”
Defensive coordinator Erik Chinander agreed.
“You’ve got to know where that cat’s at,” Chinander said.
In Colorado’s old offense under a different coaching staff, Shenault lined up everywhere. At X, or outside receiver. At H-back. In the slot, where his size and speed combination is hard to stop.
In CU’s new pro-style offense, coordinated by Jay Johnson, Shenault spent more snaps as a true X receiver in the first game. He caught three passes for 48 yards and a touchdown, with three carries for 35 yards.
“Just because you know where he’s at doesn’t mean you know what’s going to go on, but understanding where he’s at and how he can work our calls — when he’s at X (receiver), when he’s in a backfield, when he’s a tight end — we’ve got to know where he’s at,” Chinander said.
NU coaches and defenders agreed, too, that Shenault isn’t CU’s only receiving threat. Defensive back Cam Taylor-Britt said the Buffaloes’ receiving corps was among the best Nebraska faced last season, including the bunch from Ohio State, which featured multiple NFL draft picks. K.D. Nixon and Tony Brown, Fisher said, are the other two receivers to watch most closely.
Montez is among the most accomplished quarterbacks in school history, if not as celebrated as Kordell Stewart or Koy Detmer once were. He’s started 25 straight games and thrown for more than 7,000 career yards. He’s just mobile enough, Chinander said, to be dangerous running the ball. And when he had to make two perfect throws last season over Bootle, he did that. Shenault can’t pass the ball to himself.
Bootle expects Colorado to see a much improved Husker secondary, too.
“I’m so much better and more comfortable with myself,” Bootle said. “I’ve put myself in a position to be more comfortable with what I can do and the type of person I am and the type of player I am, the type of player I want to become. I’m just that much more ahead of where I was last year.”
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1948: "The old stiff-arm is in action as Don Hagin shoves an unidentified Husker away and gobbles up a few extra yard to the Husker 40." Read more
1950: Bobby Reynolds finds a hole, but the Huskers fell to Colorado 28-19. Read more
1952: Bob Smith scoots for six yards to the Colorado 18-yard line. Read more
1954: Dennis Korinek has lots of room en route to the first touchdown of the game. Read more
1956: Colorado's John Bayuk scores a 23-yard touchdown. Read more
1958: Max Martz and Harry Tolly can't do much to stop Howard Cook, who has an impressive escort on a 71-yard touchdown run. Read more
1962: How do you like your touchdowns, on the ground or through the air? Well, have a sample of both as Dennis Claridge, left, goes for 31 yards via the overland route, and later passes to Bill Comstock for another touchdown. Read more
1964: Saved by its marauding defenders until the attack unit was able to settle down, Nebraska slapped Colorado, 21 to 3, and climbed into a tie with Kansas for the Big Eight football lead. Read more
1966: A jubilant Bob Devaney and George Kelly after the Huskers beat Colorado. Read more
1966: The Huskers leap for joy as the game against Colorado comes to an end. Read more
1966: Nebraska quarterback Bob Churchich leads the way for Paul Critchlow after pitching the ball to him against Colorado. Read more
1966: Ben Gregory adds two yards for the Huskers before Sam Harris puts a stop to his second-half run. Read more
1968: Joe Orduna runs ... hesitates ... spins ... plops. And it's six points for Nebraska. Read more
1968: Ken Geddes inhales oxygen to counteract the "mile-high" altitude. The man operating the oxygen tank is Harry Amen, nephew of Husker great Paul Amen. Read more
1970: Jeff Kinney returns a kickoff for 79 yards. Read more
1970: Jeff Kinney fights for four yards in the first quarter. Read more
1970: Van Brownson gets away from Colorado defender Dave Capra during a short gain in the first quarter. Read more
1970: Defensive tackle Larry Jacobson spoils the aim of Colorado quarterback Jim Bratton. Read more
1970: Jeff Kinney cracks the Buffaloes for a five-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown. Read more
1972: "This Buffalo pass is so near to the waiting fingertips of J.V. Cain — only to be fouled by a Husker substitute." John Starkebaum, a Nebraska defender from Huxtun, Colorado, stretched his arm to defend the pass. Read more
1972: Husker blockers sprawl ahead of Jeff Moran. Read more
1972: Maury Damkroger soars through Colorado defenders before falling just short of the goal line. Gary Dixon scored on the next play. Read more
1974: Freshman Monte Anthony carries for six yards during a first-quarter touchdown drive. Read more
1974: Mark Doak is the escort on Ritch Bahe's 24-yard gain. Bahe was injured on the play and never returned to the game. Read more
1976: A Colorado defender fires and misses, with Richard Berns continuing on his 48-yard run. Read more
1978: Andra Franklin draws a crowd of Colorado defensive players as he charges for four yards in the first quarter. Read more
1978: Tom Ohrt delivers a body-bending block. Read more
1980: Ralphie the Buffalo meets the Husker players and Tom Osborne. Read more
1980: Jarvis Redwine is tackled near the Colorado goal line in the first quarter. Read more
1982: Colorado offensive lineman John Firm lays on the ground as Steve Damkroger is hugged by Bret Clark after Damkroger's second fourth-quarter interception. Read more
1984: Travis Turner scored two touchdowns and passed for another to lead the Huskers. "We knew we could get the job done," he said. Read more
1986: Barry Remington celebrates with teammates Don Deuzio, center, and Jaohn Nairn, center, after intercepting Steve Taylor's pass. Read more
1987: Keith Jones piled up 248 yards rushing during No. 5 Nebraska's 24-7 victory over Colorado. Read more
1989: Nebraska's Jeff Mills, left, and Mike Croel chase down Colorado running back J.J. Flannigan. Read more
1991: Nebraska's Byron Bennett attempts to win the game with a 41-yard field goal attempt during the fourth quarter against Colorado. Nebraska tied 19-19. Read more
1993: Colorado football coach Bill McCartney looks on. Read more
1993: Bill McCartney looks on as No. 20 Colorado falls to No. 6 Nebraska, 21-17. Read more
1997: Scott Frost tucks the football away as he heads up field on a 3rd and 17 play in the first quarter. He made the first down. Read more
1997: Ahman Green tries to break free of Colorado defender George Jones, bottom, as Damen Wheeler moves in to assist on the tackle. Read more
1997: Dwayne Cherrington is dragged down by Nebraska's Octavious McFarland, behind, Tony Ortiz and Mike Brown. Read more
1997: Nebraska defender Eric Warfield, top, dives for a loose football. Teammate Ralph Brown, bottom, has his hand on it as Colorado receiver Phil Savoy gets folded over. Read more
1997: Erwin Swiney pulls down Colorado's Phil Savoy to end the Buffaloes' final try of scoring in the fourth quarter. Read more
1997: Nebraska defensive lineman Grant Wistrom tries to bring down Colorado quarterback John Hessler. Read more
1997: Scott Frost scores behind the blocking of wide receiver Bobby Newcombe on a short run. Read more
1997: Nebraska defensive lineman Grant Wistrom tries to bring down Colorado quarterback John Hessler, Hessler managed to escape Wistrom's grasp and threw an incomplete pass. Read more
1999: Dan Alexander heads upfield for an 80-yard touchdown. Read more
1999: Tony Ortiz signals that Colorado's last-second, fourth-quarter kick is no good, while CU's Chris Morgan signals the kick good. It missed and the game went into overtime. Read more
1999: Eric Crouch heads up the middle for a 46-yard run. Read more
1999: Dan Alexander stiff arms Rashidi Barnes as Michael Lewis eats dust. Alexander scored on the play. Read more
1999: Colorado defensive back Ben Kelly, left, tries to intercept a pass from NU quarterback Eric Crouch intended for Bobby Newcombe. Read more
1999: Eric Crouch takes a quarterback sneak into the endzone under CU's Andy Peeke to win the game. Read more
1999: Nebraska's Jon Rutherford, center, and teammate Dominic Raiola, left, rush the field following NU's overtime win. Read more
1999: Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch, right, runs as defensive tackle Justin Bannan reaches out for the tackle. Read more
1999: Colorado offensive lineman Victor Rogers holds his head as he sits on the bench after Colorado's 33-30 overtime loss to Nebraska. Read more
2001: Colorado fans celebrate their 62-36 over Nebraska by tearing down goal posts. Read more
2001: Colorado fans pull down the goal posts after beating Nebraska. Read more
2003: Nebraska coach Frank Solich, right, reacts as players, led by Brandon Teamer, douse him with water after Nebraska's 31-22 win over Colorado. Read more
2003: Judd Davies makes a cut against Colorado. Read more
2003: Frank Solich leads his team on to the field prior to their game against Colorado. Read more
2003: Husker fans enjoy themselves at Folsom Field. Read more
2003: Pat Ricketts, left, intercepts a pass in the endzone at the end of the game. Read more
2003: Nebraska fans cheer as Pat Ricketts leaves the field after the Huskers beat Colorado. Read more
2005: Nebraska quarterback Zac Taylor scrambles. Read more
2005: Ola Dagunduro hugs coach Bill Callahan in the closing seconds of the 30-3 win. Read more
2005: Nebraska's Shamus McKoy displays a "restore the order" t-shirt following the Huskers' 30-3 victory over Colorado. Read more