If half of the game is mental and confidence wins championships, then the Nebraska Cornhuskers are due for a national title in 2011. Despite some nagging injury concerns, big questions about the offense, and a plethora of unease as it relates to their in-conference schedule, the Huskers appear completely in the zone in terms of their ability to dominate this season.
Jamal Turner, one of Nebraska’s much-hyped youngsters expected to have a larger-than-anticipated role this year, recently spoke with Dan Hoppen of the Daily Nebraskan in an interview published at NebraskaStatePaper.com. In the interview, he somehow managed to exhibit all of the bravado and trademark chutzpah that you would expect from a Huskers veteran – after exactly one regular season game with the squad.
"We should put up 60 points a game," Turner said with a smile. "We have the receiving corps and the running game to put up 60 a game.
"Our senior year, we're going to have like five All-Americans on the offense I'd say, if not more than that."
Now, keep in mind, Nebraska trampled Chattanooga this past weekend in 40-7 romp. Despite the massive scoring disparity, however, many Husker faithful were left scratching their heads, wondering if the offense they witnessed on Saturday was the one they would see for the rest of the season. Because, despite the massive point total levied upon the Mocs, Taylor Martinez and Co. often looked out of position, bewildered and disorganized when it came time to move the ball.
For his part, Turner contributed marginally to the effort. Most notably, he had one carry for exactly four yards and then a slightly more exciting almost-score in the fourth quarter when he caught a two-yard pass, reversed and then nearly took it all the way.
They don’t give you three and a half points for trying in football, but just the memory of the play was enough for Turner.
"I got the chills when I was running," he told Hoppen. "The crowd got louder and louder. I just tried to make something out of nothing."
Now that he got a taste of the action, Turner can’t help but yearn for more. Nebraska head coach, Bo Pelini has already made it clear that he will be in the running as one of the candidates to return punts and kicks in the coming weeks. In fact, if Chattanooga had been able to put together another score at some point in the second half, Turner would have been the one to return the subsequent kickoff.
Still, it’s important to note that Pelini has a number of candidates he’s testing out in the role.
"Braylon Heard, Jamal Turner, Timmy Marlowe, Kenny Bell – they can all do some things with the ball in their hands," Pelini said at a recent press conference.
Just being in the running is enough for Turner. He knows that given the opportunity, he can back up his big words with big plays on the field.
"If I don't catch a pass in a game, so be it. It's on to next week," Turner said. "My time will come."
As cliché as it may sound, a healthy mindset and confidence are undeniably vital for success in football. And as he has made very clear in his short time at Nebraska, Turner has an abundance of both.