Randy York’s N-Sider
minutes and 57 seconds left in the fourth quarter Saturday, thousands of
Nebraska football fans stood up and raised both arms in the air after Jamal Turner caught a 5-yard slant pass
from Taylor Martinez to give the
Huskers their first lead over Penn State, 27-23.
Two former Husker receivers
didn’t signal touchdown, but they grinned like they just scratched the right
numbers on a lottery ticket, celebrated on Nebraska’s east sideline and
explained what career touchdown No. 2 means for Jamal Turner after clutch catches in back-to-back, black-and-blue Big
“Confidence is the most
important thing in the world for a football player and especially for a receiver,”
said Niles Paul, a second-year tight
end for the Washington Redskins and a guest invited to be inside
the ropes with the Husker team Saturday on a bye weekend. “Jamal got that first
big touchdown catch out of the way last week at Michigan State, and now he has
all the confidence in the world. That was Jamal’s springboard. Now that he
knows what he can do, just watch how many more big catches he’ll have in the
Swift Sees Better Routes, More Production
Swift isn’t on an NFL
roster, but he left Nebraska as the school’s career receptions leader with 166
catches and ranked second in career receiving yards with 2,476, just three
yards behind Johnny Rodgers. Swift
agreed with Paul and said, in effect, that Jamal Turner has put his future in
good hands – his own. “He’s a pure athlete,” Swift said. “There’s never been
any doubt about that from anyone. Confidence is preparation, and he expects
After clutching a short
Martinez pass in the final seconds in East Lansing and then holding onto
another tight catch in the north end zone against the Nittany Lions, Turner
will have even more pep in his step this week, in practice as well on Senior
Day next Saturday when a bowl eligible Minnesota comes to town.
“Being a great receiver is
all about running the right routes and knowing you can do it,” Swift said. “When
you get your confidence, it gets fun, and you can do amazing things.”
Ability to Judge Himself through His Own Eyes
A more self-assured Jamal Turner will see things better,
picture more precise routes and visualize making more winning catches. He no
longer has to judge himself through someone else’s eyes. He can judge himself
through his own.
That’s the beauty of Turner’s
confidence. Instead of the blur in his head from never seeing a college touchdown
after making 63 in high school, he’s painting a more vivid picture in his mind
again – in high definition, no less.
In the mind’s eye is the
power of confidence, a bolder attitude and a more courageous mindset. From now
on, instead of worrying about what he hasn’t experienced, Jamal Turner will
dial up what he’s proven two weekends in a row – with the game on the line and pressure
at its peak.
We all know you have to
expect things of yourself before you can do them, and after spending so much
time wondering if he could, Turner now knows better. He will no longer consent
to doubt or question his ability to be a game-changer.
Big Question: Can Everything Come Up Roses?
He now plays a key role in a
Nebraska cast that doesn’t have to be asked “Can you feel it?” Jamal Turner
feels it and with two regular-season games remaining, including the
regular-season finale at Iowa City the day after Thanksgiving, he’s expecting
one more thing. He’s expecting everything to come up roses, even if the season did
have a thorny start.
Yes, Nebraska has now overcome
four double-digit second-half deficits this season to win. Two were road games –
at Northwestern and Michigan State. The other two were magic moments elevated
by a determined roar inside Memorial Stadium – against Wisconsin and Penn State.
Last week, Turner told a
Lincoln sportswriter that he felt like a new man after making that game-winning
catch with a half dozen seconds left on the clock. He said he felt like a
better player, and he envisioned everybody looking at him differently than they
had all season.
Well, the best thing about
building confidence is the big plays – and the swagger – that come with it. And
the next best thing is seeing the voltage of confidence surging through the
hearts of your teammates, such as:
Martinez once again thinking
impossible is nothing.
Kyler Reed once again laying the long track getting Martinez/Turner to a short end zone.
Abdullah once again realizing he
can stand in for Rex Burkhead.
Fisher knowing he can
hit the right spots one series after another.
Whaley and David Santos showing what it takes to cause a fumble.
how a No. 3 I-back can score two pivotal touchdowns.
Heard being heard
from again. He will be needed down the stretch.
Stafford finishing with
eight tackles and creating two turnovers.
Maher kicking three
field goals and pinning the enemy behind the lines as a punter.
Evans achieving a
career-high 10 tackles.
Will Compton matching those 10 tackles and recovering a fumble.
converting a heat-seeking missile into a quarterback sack.
An entire offensive team,
defensive team and special teams knowing it’s never over ‘til it’s over and
understanding what their head coach keeps saying … once they can clean up some
of their messes, there’s no telling how good they might be … not next season,
but today and tomorrow, stepping stones to Indianapolis and Pasadena.
What a program-changer that
would be, and what a tribute that would be to a retiring athletic director who
brought Bo back to Lincoln.
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