As the Nebraska football team began to finish preparing for Saturday’s matchup with Oklahoma State, Head Coach Bill Callahan highlighted the growth through six games of first-year starting defensive end Zach Potter, who leads the team in both tackles for loss (nine) and sacks (2.5). 

“Of all those guys, I think Potter has made the most improvement,” Callahan said after Thursday’s 1 Ĺ-hour workout in shoulder pads and shorts in Memorial Stadium.  “I felt that, looking at the front four, of all the guys we had to replace, I felt that Potter was the guy that would really have to come along.  He had to fill some big shoes.  He’s improved more than anybody in that front.”

A 6-7, 285-pound junior from Omaha, Neb., Potter was called to fill for departed defensive end Adam Carriker, who is in his rookie season with the St. Louis Rams. 

“He’s got a great frame in that he’s tall and long,” Callahan said.  “He’s smart and has a motor.  He learned well under Carriker.  He had a few years of getting himself ready.  He loves the game.  He prepares hard.  He still has a long ways to go, but he’s really been a physical player for us, at the point of attack especially.  For a tall, long guy, he can bend well.  He has good flexibility.  He can leverage you and play well with his hands.”

The Huskers will look toward Potter to spur improvement on the defensive side of the ball after the Blackshirts struggled against MissouriNebraska will face an important challenge from the Cowboys, who rank second in the Big 12 with 234.5 rushing yards per game.  With half of the season to go, Callahan sees this as an important test for the Huskers. 

“I think these next six games will determine a lot of things as to where we can go and how much improvement we can make over the long haul,” Callahan said.  “Usually, as the season goes on, you continue to improve in areas.  As long as you see that, I’m pleased.  If it could register into a few more wins, I’d be a lot happier.  At the split, it’s not where I want to be.” 

Nebraska will close its preparations for the Oklahoma State game with a walkthrough Friday afternoon at Memorial Stadium before Saturday’s 11:37 a.m. matchup against the Cowboys that will be televised on a pay-per-view basis.