STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Nebraska guard Jerald Foster took a deep breath before letting out an even bigger sigh. He had just left the locker room following the Huskers’ 56-44 loss to Penn State, and he was once again willing to answer questions from the many reporters standing between the locker room and the team bus.
Foster is one of Nebraska’s captains this season. A junior, Foster has been a willing participant in many of Nebraska’s weekly news conferences as well as a postgame media availability. On Saturday night, he was true to form and one of the first players out of the locker room to take questions.
The big sigh from Foster came when asked about morale. He was thinking back to a conversation he had just had in the locker room with his teammates. They talked about the Iowa matchup, the seniors, and ending the season on a high note. Morale never seemed down to Foster.
“When you have this many losses, it is hard on your team, and that is obvious,” Foster said. “Us going into the last game that we have being Iowa, we are going to come together and work hard. We were talking about it in the locker room. We want to send our seniors off right in their last game at the home stadium and get a win. We want to do it for the seniors but also end our season with a win.”
Junior tackle Cole Conrad agreed. He was a part of that locker room conversation, and he felt good about the future of Nebraska. If nothing else, the way the Huskers finished the game against Penn State was enough to boost morale even just a little bit.
“A loss is still a loss, and you can hang your head a little bit, but you have to bounce back and get ready for Iowa,” Conrad said. “It’s a short week, and you know because it’s Iowa that it means a little more to us. I think it’s moving in the right direction, though, especially with finishing.
“You just have to correct yourself and move on.”
Quarterback Tanner Lee said morale was similar at halftime. Down 42-10, the Huskers wanted to keep playing and get back into the game. It was as simple to Lee and his teammates that this was their job and they had a job to finish.
Plus, the players say they sincerely care about one another. Each player postgame talked about the love for each other and the love for the seniors. In fact, that appreciation for one another is exactly what has kept the players from getting too down.
“I think that’s really what kept us fighting in this ball game,” Conrad said. “This season hasn’t gone how we wanted it to go, but I think the camaraderie for our guys and the love of the game pushes us to finish and to keep preparing and not just hang your head, roll over and give up.”
There is plenty of uncertainty ahead for this group. They’re not talking about it openly, but the rumors and speculation hang heavy in the air sometimes. But that wasn’t the focus Saturday night. It was instead on morale and staying positive.
Nebraska has one game left. This one is for the seniors, like Foster said. But it’s also for each other, which each player echoed one after the other.
“I’m still excited for this week, as tough as this is,” Lee said. “We hate getting beat like we did [Saturday night], but I love my team and I love playing with them, and I can’t wait to have another opportunity to play with them.”