The Nebraska football team held its final practice in preparation for Saturday’s game at Kansas, working through a one-hour and 45-minute practice in sweats on the Memorial Stadium Field Turf on Thursday afternoon.
"Today’s practice went well," Nebraska Coach Frank Solich said. "It’s obvious that Kansas is excited about the football game, and we are going to go down and match that excitement. We are looking forward to it. Our players have practiced well this week, and they are planning on carrying that over and playing great football. It should be a very exciting game."
Solich announced that sophomore strong safety Daniel Bullocks was named the Huskers’ special teams captain for Saturday’s game at Kansas. Bullocks, who set a career high with 15 tackles against Texas last weekend, has started each of the past five games for the Huskers in the secondary. He is also a member of Nebraska’s punt coverage and punt return teams and is tied for fourth on the team with 49 tackles this season.
"He is very well-deserving of the honor," Solich said. "He’s stepped in at the safety spot since Phil (Bland) got injured and done a great, great job there. Any way that he can get recognized for what he’s done I think is great, so we are honoring him as our special teams captain."
Solich also said that he was excited about Nebraska’s plans for new athletic facilities announced earlier in the day be NU Athletic Director Steve Pederson. Solich said that the plans for the Tom and Nancy Osborne Athletic Complex, which include a new training room, weight room, locker room, indoor practice facility and administrative offices in the North Stadium, along with a 5,000-seat expansion of Memorial Stadium would benefit both Nebraska’s student-athletes and fans.
"I think the whole staff is excited about it, certainly from the football end of it," Solich said. "I think some of the other head coaches and staff members of those other sports in our program are excited because the facility will be used in a lot of different ways. It is really exciting for us and our players, and the potential as far as recruiting goes. Any time you make a commitment and show that commitment by making an investment, then to parents and recruits it means a great deal.
"I think it is great the investment made in the program and also the investment being made in the University. Any time people see a program moving forward and the University moving forward then it is always good for recruiting."
Solich said he was pleased that the facility plans included seating expansion in the North Stadium.
"The more fans we can get into the stadium the better for everybody," Solich said. "It is better for fans. It is better for our team when we lineup and there’s 5,000 more people making noise. I think it’s great to try to get as many Nebraska fans to be able to get into games and see them first-hand as much as possible."
Solich said making improvements to the training room and locker room areas have been priorities for the football program since he was named Nebraska’s head coach before the 1998 season.
"If you look at our training room facility, it is behind the times and that needs to be improved," Solich said. "When you are trying to take care of the number athletes that we are trying to take care of, then you want the very best on that end of it, certainly for their health and to get them back on the field quicker. So it is important to the players as well as the coaches.
"The locker room area is something that we have been looking at trying to improve for sometime, and then of course the other additions are just going to be great for the program. From the moment I took over as head football coach, I did ask that a few things get improved. Those few things were never met, and I’m glad to see that we’re taking steps to make some improvements that were long overdue."
Solich said that in the past, the locker room area was not a focus of Nebraska’s recruiting efforts, but times have changed because of advancements at other schools.
"We do show them (recruits) our training room, and they do get a chance to visit with our head trainer. They do get a chance to visit with our team doctors. Then when we march them out of there, we march right past our locker room. We never open the door. Then we go to the academic area. Normally, locker rooms for the most part have never really been very special, but they are special now. So there are a lot of schools that do show off their locker room, but it is something that we have not done. We have just marched our guys right by it.
"When this is done, the needs of the football program and other programs within the University will be greatly, greatly helped. I’m not going to stand here and tell you that facilities automatically get you recruits. But I guarantee that it makes a difference to the recruits, and it makes a difference to their parents when they start adding everything up. The people that you have in place are very important, and fortunately we have the right people in place."
Nebraska’s game at Kansas, which is scheduled for a regional broadcast by Fox Sports Net, will kickoff on Saturday at 2:40 p.m. at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kan.