Let's get the season started

Lincoln was the place to be Saturday night if you wanted to witness a knockout punch.
No, I’m not talking about Terence Crawford’s third round punch to the gut, but rather Husker volleyball redshirt freshman middle hitter Lauren Stivrins’ .538 hitting percentage on 16 kills. It certainly was the highlight of a fun night, a chance to see five true freshman lace it up for the first time at Devaney.
The only bad news is that all-American senior Kelly Hunter couldn’t play because of an undisclosed injury, one that might keep her out of a few matches when the season starts this weekend down in Florida.
Backup redshirt freshman setter Hunter Atherton got off to a slow start for the Reds, but came on to show her talent. Plus it was fun watching new Husker assistant coach Kayla Banwarth set for the Whites. The Olympic libero showed that she could have had a great career running an offense as well.
This team certainly has a different feel without the Rolfzen twins. They have been a constant for John Cook for four years and their absence was noticeable, but it’s also fun seeing new talent. Outside hitters Sami Slaughter and Anezka Szabo had their moments, and middle blocker Chesney McClellan showed she’s a player even though a redshirt season is probable. Outside hitter Jazz Sweet was another who impressed with some power, and hey, you’ve got to love her name, while walk-on libero Hayley Densberger showed talent serving and in the back row.
All in all, there is certainly enough pre-season firepower that showed up. Now the question is, can this team take that next step once Big Ten play begins Sept. 22 at Penn State?
College football is right around the corner but I’m going on record right now in saying that I’ve had enough of the pre-season optimism.
Yes, everyone is undefeated right now and yes, teams need positive thoughts and vibes, but isn’t it the same each and every year? Coaches say their teams are going to be better than a year ago; players say they are more confident and have more experience; meanwhile media members keep asking questions.
I’ve had the feeling that the Huskers are turning a page with personnel, and for some reason I do perceive this 2017 Husker team a little differently. Why? It’s all about the quarterback. Show me a top 20 team, a top 10 team, and I’ll show you good quarterback play. Good mind you, not necessarily great. Good as in consistent. Good as in getting their team in the right formation against the defense. Good as in making the play on a key third down to keep a drive alive.
At this point in time, it’s unclear how much, if any, playing time Aurora’s Todd Honas will get at the wide receiver position. That spot is thin on depth so stay tuned. And I would be shocked if Austin Allen does not redshirt. There are at least four older tight ends fighting for playing time led by Wayne State transfer Tyler Hoppes.
Kickoff for Arkansas State is now just 10 days away. After a disappointing bowl loss to Tennessee and a long off-season, it’s time to get this party started.
DAVE BRADLEY can be reached at advertising@hamilton.net

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