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Archive for Friday, December 22, 2006

Callahan content; Huskers get a break

December 22, 2006

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— Nebraska coach Bill Callahan turned his players loose for a four-day holiday break after declaring them good to go for the Cotton Bowl.

"The game plan has been fully installed," Callahan said Thursday after the Cornhuskers' final practice on campus. "All we need to do is go down to Dallas and polish it up and prepare the final touches for Auburn."

The 22nd-ranked Cornhuskers (9-4) have earned some rest and relaxation after practicing six times the previous seven days, Callahan said.

Most players were to catch flights home Thursday and today. The team reconvenes in Dallas on Tuesday and plays 10th-ranked Auburn (10-2) on New Year's Day.

"We'll go out and condition the team a little bit," Callahan said. "They have four days off, so we're going to have to run off some of that holiday food."

Defensive end Jay Moore said he plans to get away from football completely while spending time with friends and family in Elkhorn.

"This last week has been a grind," he said. "These four days will really help freshen us not only physically but mentally. It's been a long season so far, and this is an important game. It will be important to be mentally fresh."

Playing Auburn gives Nebraska an opportunity to finish the season on a positive note after losing 21-7 to Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game.

"Those are really prestigious bowls that are played after the New Year," quarterback Zac Taylor said. "It was our goal to play in a game in January some time. It didn't go down the way we wanted it to, but it's a great game to go to and a great opponent."

The biggest development during bowl practices was freshman defensive back Major Culbert's switch to running back last week.

The move was necessary because I-backs Brandon Jackson, Cody Glenn and Kenny Wilson have been banged up.

Callahan wouldn't say whether Culbert would play on offense against Auburn. Callahan and running backs coach Randy Jordan both said they were pleased with how Culbert made the transition.

Culbert rushed for 1,955 yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior at Nathaniel Narbonne High in Harbor City, Calif. He holds his alma mater's single-game rushing record of 332 yards, and he totaled 4,000 yards and 37 touchdowns in his high school career.

While Nebraska was trying to recruit Culbert last year, Callahan said, the coaching staff went back and forth about whether he would play safety or running back.

"We put him at safety because we needed the help," Callahan said.

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