LINCOLN — There’s nothing quite like Hawaii cool.
There’s California cool, which the Nebraska defense is infused with via its swag-dripping defensive backs. There’s Nebraska nice, which the walk-ons and interior linemen provide to help create a welcoming locker room.
But Hawaii cool? It chills everyone out.
“A lot of receivers are kind of flamboyant, flashy,” offensive coordinator Troy Walters said.
Unlike Stanley Morgan, Noa isn’t showy. Unlike Wan’Dale Robinson, he’s not bursting with confidence with each answer he gives about his game.
Noa’s different. Private. A flowing-haired, married, understated, change of pace for a Nebraska offense finding its footing.
“Kanawai’s one of my favorite kids,” Scott Frost said after the Northern Illinois game. “It’s hard to get him to say anything, but he’s a grown-up. He’s a pro about how he comes to work every day.”
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For two games, Noa was nowhere to be found. Nebraska receivers had 14 catches, 13 of them by JD Spielman or Robinson. Frost called Noa’s absence an anomaly.
On Saturday against Northern Illinois, the California transfer and native of Honolulu showed up. Three catches for 51 yards, including a 27-yarder in the end zone just before halftime.
Martinez threw a 50-50 ball at the end of a two-minute drill toward Noa.
“We knew they were playing that overlap with that corner, so going in Adrian already was keying in on it,” Noa said. “All I did was run a vertical, to be honest.”
He went up then tapped his left foot inside the white line, but the referee ruled it out of bounds. Noa’s only other “catch” entering the game was called out of bounds in the end zone against South Alabama. This time, he watched the replay on the jumbotron and insisted Nebraska take another look.
The call was reversed. On the sideline, Frost and Martinez fist-pumped.
“It had definitely been stagnant for me, but being able to touch the ball and make something happen is a great feeling,” Noa said.
NU quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco said this week that he talks with Martinez often about developing a relationship with his receivers, but doesn’t think there’s one he prefers over the others.
But there’s clearly a connection between Noa and Martinez, two of the quieter offensive playmakers.
“He deserves it. He’s a great guy,” Martinez said of that touchdown catch. “And he’s been supportive of me. Every play, even last year coming off to the sideline. ... I think it’s tough for a lot of people to understand just how much those guys mean to me. Noa’s always been there. Ups and downs and — in short — just really happy for him.”
Walters said some of the first reports he got out of summer workouts were about how well Martinez and Noa were jelling. He’s not sure they hang out much outside of football, but that could be because Martinez, the sophomore, heads to class while Noa gets picked up from practice by his wife and heads home for the evening.
But in fall camp, the optimism from offensive coaches about the passing game came from trust in Noa, who impressed immediately.
Which made Noa’s lack of production the first two games even odder.
Week 3 was more like it. As a sophomore at Cal, Noa caught 56 passes for 788 yards and four touchdowns. About five receptions per game.
“That’s what we need,” Walters said. “We need him to be steady, consistent, catch whatever.”
Be the change of pace. Surprise some people. Like he did during the talent show in fall camp.
“Yeah, he’s laid back, and then in fall camp we had the newcomers get up and do a talent. Like a talent show kind of thing. He got up and did a rap,” Walters said. “And it was like, ‘Who is this guy?’ ”
Best-case scenario as the season progresses, Noa becomes the much-needed third receiver the Huskers have been searching for.
He already has some fans. Randy Moss highlighted Noa’s touchdown catch on ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown.”
“Kanawai Noa. Kanawai Noa. Kanawai Noa. Kanawai Noa. I’m gonna sing a song for ya, boy,” Moss said, the highlight showing on screen. “That’s Kanawai Noa. I like the play, I like the hand-eye coordination, boy. I love it. Let me say that name one more time. Kanawai Noa.”
Best get used to saying it.
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Nebraska fans topple the goal posts following the Huskers' 24-7 home victory over No. 2 and 3 ranked Colorado on Saturday, Oct. 29, 1994. It was the eighth time in Memorial Stadium history that the posts were torn down. The Huskers (9-0) dominated the first half while taking a 17-0 lead and holding a 234 to 89 edge in total yards. Nebraska defeated Colorado 24-7.
Nebraska running back Ahman Green is consoled by an unidentified husker fan after Nebraska was upset by Arizona State University on Saturday night, Sept. 21, 1996, at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. ASU defeated Nebraska 19-0.
Nebraska fans Brian Bumann and Nancy Brewer of Spencer, Iowa, enjoy a moment in the rain as they watched Saturday's Nebraska Cornhuskers Football vs. Iowa State game in Ames, Iowa. It was the first time since the last Spring Game that the boyfriend and girlfriend have seen their Huskers play. Nebraska defeated ISU 49-14.
Cindy Swigart of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, formerly of Omaha, Nebraska, adds a Husker flag to her tailgate party on Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 30, 1996, outside of ProPlayer Stadium. The University of Nebraska playied Virgina Tech in the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida, on Wednesday, Dec. 31, 1996. Nebraska defeated Virgina Tech 41-21 .
Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne, center, signs a football for fan Eric Stratton of Columbia, Maryland, as his wife Nancy looks on shortly before the team departed from the Lincoln, Nebraska, airport, for Miami, Florida. Stratton, a 1985 NU graduate, was in Lincoln for the holidays. Osborne and the Huskers were headed to Miami to play in the Orange Bowl. It would be Osborne's final game as head coach. Nebraska defeated Tennessee 42-17 to win a share of the national title.
Fans at 72nd and Dodge Streets in Omaha, Nebraska, celebrate after the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers defeated the Tennessee Volunteers in the Orange Bowl on Friday, Jan. 2, 1998. The second-ranked Huskers manhandled third-ranked Tennessee 42-17 to complete a 13-0 season and earn a a share of the national championship.
Nebraska fans Tom Poeue, left, and Mike Novak, both of Lincoln, Nebraska, cheer on the Huskers on Monday night, Aug. 29, 1983, during the Kick-off Classic, featuring the Huskers and Penn State, at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Nebraska defeated Penn State 44-6.
Disappointed Nebraska cheerleaders take in the moment after Nebraska lost in the 1984 Orange Bowl to the University of Miami on Monday, Jan. 2, 1984, in Miami, Florida. Nebraska failed on a two-point conversion attempt with 48 seconds left that would have won the game and the national championship. A successful kick would have tied the score. Miami's Ken Calhoun broke up the conversion pass from quarterback Turner Gill to I-back Jeff Smith, leaving the inspired Hurricanes with a 31-30 upset victory over the top-ranked Cornhuskers. "We were trying to win the game, " Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne said. "I don't think you go for a tie in that case. You try to win the game. We wanted an undefeated season and a clear-cut national championship."
Nebraska football coach Frank Solich signs a T-shirt for Special Olympic athlete Caleb Crippen, 13, of Hickman, Nebraska, during Media Day at Memorial Stadium on Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2000. Solich was fired on Saturday night, Nov. 29, 2003, after winning more than 75 percent of his games over six seasons. Solich took over after Tom Osborne retired after the 1997 season. Solich was 42-9 in his first four seasons. He was Big 12 coach of the year in 1999 and 2001, won the 1999 conference title and his team played for the national championship after the 2001 season.
From left: Husker fans Jim Colburn, Dick Upah and Bill Sims watch a football scrimmage at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Friday, Aug. 16, 2002.
Amanda & Jeremy Stutzman of David City, Nebraska, wait with other Huskers fans outside of the Rose Bowl before the game on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2002, in Pasadena, California. The Miami Hurricanes defeated the Huskers 37â€“14 to win their fifth national title.
Fans hold up placards in the east stands to celebrate Nebraska's 250th consecutive sellout on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2002, as the Nebraska played Utah State in a college football game on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2002 ,in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska defeated Utah State 44-13.
Seats were plentiful and fans sparse at the Independence Bowl on Friday Dec. 27, 2002, in Shreveport, Louisiana. The University of Nebraska Cornhuskers played Ole Miss in the Independence Bowl. Ole Miss defeated Nebraska 27-23. The Huskers sealed their first non-winning season in 41 years on Friday night. The Huskers ended their season with a record of 7-7.
Bill Callahan meets the fans at the kickoff of the Husker Nation Tour at the First National Bank plaza in Omaha, Nebraska, on Friday, June 25, 2004. It gave fans a chance to see, hear, ask questions and get Callahan's autograph.
From left: Steve Thelen of Lincoln, Nebraska, Matt Keyes and Jeff Gunn, both of Omaha, Nebraska, finally had plenty to cheer about following the first blocked punt on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2004, at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, as the Huskers took on Missouri. Nebraska defeated Missouri 24-3.
Husker fan Kevin Wulf of Superior, Nebraska, gets a close up view of pregame warmups as Nebraska played Wake Forest at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Saturday evening, Sept. 10, 2005. Nebraska defeated Wake Forest 31-3.
Husker fans embrace Terrence Nunn after his long first quarter touchdown at the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team against the Michigan Wolverines at the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, on Wednesday, December 28, 2005. Nebraska defeated Michigan 32-28.
Husker fans hope for revenge after losing to Kansas 40-15 in 2005. Nebraska played Kansas in a Big 12 college football game on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2006, in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska got their revenge and defeated Kansas 39-32.
Marilyn Beebe of Lincoln, Nebraska, watches the end of regulation time during the Nebraska vs. Kansas football game on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2006, in Lincoln. Kansas rallied to force overtime, but Nebraska prevailed with a 39-32 win. Beebe said the game was little more tense then she liked.
Retro dressed fans with a retro sign from left: Matt Thkemeier, Ben Grabenstein, both of Omaha, Nebraska, Adam Grabenstein of Eustis, Nebraska, Chris Kramer of Omaha and Bob Floth of Snickley, Nebraska, cheer on the Nebraska football team. Nebraska played Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2006. Oklahoma defeated Nebraska 21-7.
With victory in the bag, Husker Glenn Patterson shoots pictures of fans behind Nebraska's bench with a tiny camera in the fourth quarter of the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday, Dec. 20, 1969. The Huskers took on Georgia in the bowl and defeated the Bulldogs 45-6.
Wait, that's not everyday of the year! Sorry, we only included the days Nebraska football has played. NU an all-time record of 0-0 on every unlisted day. But, if you enjoy all things Husker football, follow @HuskerHistory on Twitter.
A Husker fan reacts as Nebraska plays Oklahoma State in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2007. Oklahoma State defeated Nebraska 45-14.
A fan sends a message from the stands as Nebraska played Oklahoma State University in Big 12 college football action on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2007, at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska. Oklahoma State defeated Nebraska 45-14.
The exodus for the halftime concessions began early in the second quarter as a fan signed his displeasure during the Nebraska vs. Oklahoma State football game on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2007, in Lincoln, Nebraska. Oklahoma State defeated Nebraska 45-14. It was coach Bill Callahan's fourth season as coach. In 2007, Callahan finished with a 5-7 record.
University of Kansas student Andrew Claassen, left center, taunts University of Nebraska fan Adam Loecker after Kansas went up 48-21 in the second quarter during the Nebraska Cornhuskers' football game against the Kansas Jayhawks on Friday, Nov. 2, 2007. Claassen and Loecker are friends from high school in McPherson, Kansas. Loecker said he was not surprised by the Nebraska performance in the first half. Kansas defeated Nebraska 76-39.
Mick Wiater of Papillion, Nebraska, enjoys pre-game festivities as the Nebraska Cornhuskers prepare to take on the Clemson Tigers in the Gator Bowl on Thursday, Jan. 1, 2009, in Jacksonville, Florida. Nebraska defeated Clemson 26-21.
Larry the Cable Guy, aka Pawnee City, Nebraska, native Dan Whitney, signs autographs for fans before the game. The University of Nebraska Cornhuskers played the Clemson Tigers in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida, on January 1, 2009. Nebraska defeated Clemson 26-21.
Nebraska football players Jim Anderson, left, and Jerry List autograph some footballs for Mark Rouse, 8, of Lincoln, Nebraska, during a Tuesday, Dec. 14, 1971, autograph session.
Nebraska fan Rose Crowley of Omaha, Nebraska, sports a hat she bought in 1982. She said she wears it to every homecoming game. Nebraska played Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009 at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska defeated Louisiana-Lafayette 55-0.
Nebraska fans fill Memorial Stadium during the 300th consecutive sell-out football game against Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009, in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska defeated Louisiana-Lafayette 55-0.
Nebraska fans from left: Steve Hernandez, Brett Kay, Brett Gotch and Calvin Kramper of South Sioux City, Nebraska, cheer for the Huskers dressed as the band KISS against Baylor at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco, Texas, on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009. Nebraska defeated Baylor 20-10.
Husker fan Ron Freiburger, left, celebrates as his good friend and Oklahoma fan Jack Land shows disappointment in the Sooners. Land grew up in Oklahoma while Freiburger grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. The two friends now live in Los Angeles, California. The University of Nebraska Cornhuskers took on the University of Oklahoma Sooners at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2009. Nebraska defeated Oklahoma 10-3.
Dann Leffler of West Point, Nebraska, wears his homemade ears of corn as Nebraska played Kansas at Kivisto Field in Lawrence, Kansas, on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009. Nebraska defeated Kansas 31-17.
Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne visits with fans following the Huskers' 20-10 victory over Baylor at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco, Texas, on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009.
University of Nebraska cheerleader Kim Huhmann leaps into the air for a photo near the San Diego Bay before performing in a battle of the bands pep rally at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California, on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2009. The Husker football team was in San Diego to play Arizona in the Holiday Bowl. The Huskers defeated Arizona 33-0.
Nick Schwenck, 13, of Phoenix, Arizona, center, stands with his father Tim Schwenck, right, outside of Qualcomm Stadium before the start of the Holiday Bowl, in San Diego, California, on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2009. Tim Schwenck is originally from Ashland, Nebraska. Nebraska defeated Arizona in the Holiday Bowl 33-0 for win.
Nebraska fans cheer for the Huskers as they return to the locker room following warmups at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington, on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2010. Nebraska defeated Washington 56-21.
Eli Spencer, 11, from Denver, Colorado, shows his Blackshirt crossbones. The Nebraska Cornhuskers played a football game against the Missouri Tigers at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Oct. 30, 2010. Nebraska defeated Missouri 31-17.
Nebraska seniors from left: Tyler Legate, Austin Jones, Jim Ebke and Lance Thorell take the field ahead of the rest of the team on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011, before playing Tennessee Chattanooga at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska. The Huskers defeated Tennessee Chattanooga 40-7.
As a dental student and a Huskers super fan Paul Favela keeps busy and studies his anatomy homework before the Ohio State game outside of Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011. Nebraska defeated Ohio State 34-27.
Fans cheer for the Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 16, 1978, in Lincoln, Nebraska, during a football game against Hawaii. Nebraska defeated Hawaii 56-10.
Brothers Don Drozd , left, and Andy Drozd, both of Columbus, Nebraska, cheer on the Cornhuskers. Nebraska palyed Oklahoma State on Saturday, October 6, 1984, at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska defeated Oklahoma State 17-3.
Nebraska fan Mike McCann was full of emotion as the Huskers took on Alabama in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Saturday, Sept. 17, 1977, at Memorial Stadium. The Huskers defeated Alabama 31-24.
Fans tear down the goal posts following Nebraska's 52-7 win over Colorado on Saturday, Oct. 31, 1992, at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska. The Huskers finished the season at 9-3.
The goal posts come down as Nebraska fans scale them on Friday, Nov. 26, 1982, at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska, following the Husker's win over Oklahoma. Nebraska was a 28-24 winner, the Big Eight Conference champion for the second year in a row and headed for the Orange Bowl again.
From left: Nebraska fans Diana Bolton, Mary Edwards, and Marilyn and Al Vyhnalef watch the Cornhusker's 31-7 victory over Colorado in the rain on Saturday, Oct. 30, 1971, at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Usher Carissa Kay Moorer of Fairbury, Nebraska, keeps under wraps but maintains her spirit as fan Patrick Collins of Omaha, Nebraska, cheers Nebraska's second touchdown during a football game against Oregon on Saturday, Sept. 28, 1985. Nebraska defeated Oregon 63-0. The Huskers finished the 1985 season 9-3.
A fan sports a tattoo of Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez and young Jack Hoffman. Football fans meet the Nebraska Huskers during Fan Day at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln on Friday, Aug. 2, 2013. A friendship between Burkhead, then a Nebraska running back, and Jack led to a moment at the Cornhuskers' Red-White game that made the youngster an overnight celebrity. His 69-yard touchdown run electrified Memorial Stadium and brought awareness nationally to pediatric brain cancer, with which Jack was diagnosed in May 2011 at age 5.
Joelle Freed of Omaha, Nebraska, cries as she and her grandmother Kathy Freed of Bellevue, Nebraska, left, meet NU quarterback Taylor Martinez with a life-sized cutout in his likeness. Joelle Freed said her family gave her the cutout for Christmas and admitted that she's more of a fan of Martinez than of Nebraska football. Football fans met the Nebraska Huskers during Fan Day at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Friday, Aug. 2, 2013.
Nebraska corner back Ciante Evans (17) celebrates scoring a touchdown with Jessica Klein of Lincoln in the first quarter. Evans scored after intercepting Southern Mississippi quarterback Allan Bridgford. On the left is Husker defensive end Randy Gregory (44). Nebraska played Southern Mississippi in a football game at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013. Nebraska defeated Southern Miss 56-13.
Cory Kruse, of Lincoln, Nebraska, dresses as Batman for the football game. The Nebraska Cornhuskers played a football against the UCLA Bruins at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln on Sept. 14, 2013. Nebraska lost to UCLA 41-21.
Kristen Houska of Lincoln, Nebraska, enjoys the first rays of sun while tailgating with friends and family before the Nebraska Huskers play the Minnesota Gophers at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013. Houska said that she and her Nebraskan companions came up for a weekend of football and Mall of America. Nebraska lost to Minnesota 34-23.
Nebraska fan James Ellis cheers on the Huskers as they leave the field following their 27-24 win over Northwestern. Nebraska played Northwestern in a football game at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013.
Nebraska fans such as Mark Leffler, center, yelled down to the field from the stands after they disagreed with a play called by officials in the second quarter as the Nebraska Cornhuskers played the Michigan State Spartans at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013. Nebraska lost to Michigan State 41-28.
Nebraska fans greet the Huskers before they take the field against Michigan State. The Nebraska Huskers play the Michigan State Spartans at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013. Nebraska lost to Michigan State 41-28.
Nebraska fan James Leffler sits in the stands as the Huskers played the Michigan State Spartans at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013. With ticket stubs in his hat dating from as far back as 1965, Leffler said he has attended every game since then and is a huge fan of the Nebraska Huskers. Nebraska lost to Michigan State 41-28.
Nebraska fans take cover before the start of the Gator Bowl. The Huskers played the Georgia Bulldogs in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida, on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014. The Huskers defeated Georgia 24-19.
Husker football coach Bo Pelini signs autographs at the Big Red Express' first stop on Saturday, June 28, 2014, in Columbus, Nebraska. The 16-car train left with University of Nebraska athletic department coaches and officials from Omaha, Nebraska, and made its way to North Platte, Nebraska.
Dan Schneiss, left, and Jim McFarland are swamped with fans on the field after the Cornhuskers beat the Kansas State Wildcats 10-7 on November 15, 1969, in Manhattan, Kansas.
Nebraska wide receiver Kenny Bell smiles at fans in the stands at Memorial Stadium during Husker Fan Day on Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Omaha's Sue Gardner shows off her football bling. The Nebraska Cornhuskers played a football game against the Florida Atlantic Owls at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska, on August 30, 2014.
From left: Husker fans Jay Kleymann, Andy Gradioville and Michelle Turner watch the Orange Bowl at the Candle Light Lounge at 50th and Grover Streets on Sunday, Jan. 1, 1995. The Nebraska Cornhuskers beat the Miami Hurricanes 24-17.
Nebraska fans celebrate after Husker wide receiver Kenny Bell scored a touchdown against Miami in the first quarter at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. Nebraska defeated Miami 41-31.
Anna Weigandt, left, of Kokomo, Ind., uses a beer funnel to drink a beer as Jeff Bedwell, of Chicago, gives two thumbs up during tailgating festivities. The Nebraska Cornhuskers played a college football game against Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill., Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014. Nebraska defeated Northwestern 38-17.
Abby Miller, an Nebraska Scarlet, waits to see if the officials would add a second on the clock for a final play. They did, but the Huskers fell short and lost, 45-42. The Nebraska Cornhuskers played a football game against the USC Trojans at the Holiday Bowl in San Diego, California, on Dec. 27, 2014, for the Holiday Bowl.