It’s a knockout

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Was it the knockout punch heard ‘round the country? Maybe.
No, I’m not talking about Northwestern’s improbable, unimaginable fourth quarter rally and subsequent overtime victory over the Huskers on Saturday afternoon in Illinois, but rather Omaha’s Terrance Crawford’s 12th round flooring of Jose Benavidez, Jr. at the CHI Center in front of 13,000 plus screaming fans.
The WBO welterweight title fight wasn’t a masterpiece, but it was entertaining between two undefeated boxers. Crawford efficiently and systematically landed more punches, round after round, until the very end when he scored a knockout decision as pandamonium erupted.
In my mind, the Huskers could learn quite a bit by studying the way Crawford goes about his business. He’s focused, he’s in better shape than his opponents and he’s fundamentally and mentally strong. Plus, he’s got a killer instinct, something that would have come in handy with five minutes left in regulation against the ‘Cats.
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If you ask yourself if there still reason for optimism in the Husker football camp, I say yes.
There is of course the obvious talent upgrade that this program is needs, but that’s just a given. Over time that will take care of itself. But remember, Northwestern just beat Michigan State, a team that just beat Penn State.
Regardless, I’m going to list five reasons why I’m excited to see what the future holds for Scott Frost.
1. Adrian Martinez and Maurice Washington: these two freshmen are light years ahead of where they should be out on the football field, given their lack of experience. Another year in the system, in the weight room and in the film room will make them extremely dangerous to opposing defenses. If they can stay healthy, it’s going to be crazy. And don’t forget about JD Spielman.
2. The young but enthusiastic coaching staff: yes, some are still trying to find their way in Lincoln, but remember, they’ve only been around for a few months and they’re still a learning curve when it comes to Big Ten football. With each passing game they’ll get better in knowing what their players can and can’t do. They’ll adjust accordingly and you will see these guys develop.
3. Unwavering fan support: an 0-5 team shows up just outside of Chicago and gets that kind of crowd? Unreal. Husker Nation won’t give up on this program. Ever.
4. The strength staff: building pure muscle and being able to compete at the highest level in college football just doesn’t happen overnight, over a few months. Another year in this system will once again transform these players into being able to push themselves to yet a higher level.
5. That first win: call me crazy, but whether it’s this Saturday against Minnesota or next week against Bethune-Cookman, one victory will go a long way in getting that proverbial monkey off the program’s back.
Ever since that strange lightning delay in Lincoln on Sept. 1, and ever since that unlikely rally by Colorado, the team has gone through hard times. One win will flip the script. And with four home games remaining as of Saturday, you’ve got to like the Huskers’ chances in at least two, maybe three of those matchups.
As of this moment, a three win season seems in the cards.
 DAVE BRADLEY can be reached at advertising@ hamilton.net

 

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