September 27, 2008

Huskers eager to show true colors against Hokies

In Larry Asante's mind, Nebraska's season begins today.

Despite being 3-0 heading into tonight's nationally televised showdown with Virginia Tech, Asante and many other players believe the season up to this point has been more of a warm up for their actual season, which starts tonight and continues through their Big 12 Conference schedule.

For Asante, tonight is when the Huskers begin to find out just how good they really are.

"I think it starts (tonight) in how we go about defeating this team and how we defeat them, if it's a close game, if it's a blowout," Asante said. "I think the fans will start believing, but I don't think it's going to be enough. Virginia Tech, they're a good team, but they lost to some teams that they shouldn't have lost to, so I don't think the fans will be totally convinced.

"To me, I think it's going to take the whole season. How we go about defeating all these teams, and how we do it too."

While the Huskers know Virginia Tech will be their biggest challenge of the year on paper so far, it's not as if they haven't been tested already through their first three games.

Western Michigan put up 24 points and stopped NU's offense four times in Bronco territory to hold the Huskers to field goals. San Jose State came a Niles Paul kickoff return away from possibly pulling off a major upset, and at times looked like a far better team than Nebraska.

The Huskers' best game came two weeks ago against New Mexico State, but considering it was the Aggies' first game of the season, it was hardly a measuring stick game.

So when Nebraska takes the field tonight, the players know they'll be going against their most comparable foe yet in the 3-1 Hokies.

"We're not fooling nobody," senior linebacker Cody Glenn said. "We know those first three games were games we were supposed to win. That's why put them on the schedule. We've got Virginia Tech coming in, we know this is what we've been waiting on. This is going to be where we see what kind of team we've got. We're definitely ready to get this game going."

Coming into the season, tonight's game carried a bit more luster on the national stage than it does right now. The Hokies entered the year ranked No. 17, but dropped their season opener to East Carolina 27-22. Since then, Tech has won three straight, but has yet to put on an impressive showing.

The Hokies got their first victory with a lackluster 24-7 win over Division I-AA Furman, and then followed that up with back-to-back 20-17 wins over Georgia Tech and North Carolina.
Even so, the Huskers aren't taking anything for granted.

"Regardless of their record or their ranking, Virginia Tech over the past decade has been a good team," junior linebacker Phillip Dillard said. "They've got great athletes and good coaching and they strive on special teams and defense. Yeah they lost a couple people on offense, but they can still kick it into rhythm when they have to."

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