By Jerry Trickie
Lincoln -- Senior tackle Scott Koethe will look back on his career someday and appreciate the opportunities he has had by being a member of the Nebraska football team. After all, the 6-foot-5, 285-pounder has been a part of the offensive line at Nebraska, where he?s already seen action in two bowl games, including the Rose Bowl national title game. And he has worked day in and day out as part of a unit that has helped NU win two NCAA rushing titles.
But reality hasn?t sunk in yet. Koethe is still in the present, working on his techniques and getting ready for Nebraska?s final 2002 contests.
"I don?t know yet," Koethe said of what he thinks of playing his last game in Memorial Stadium today.
"I know it?s going to be big for me when I look back on (my career here) someday, but I don?t think it?s really hit me that it?s coming to an end so soon. I know it will eventually, so right now, I?m starting to collect some things for when that time comes."
After five years in the program, Koethe is playing in his 37th game. He has seven pancake blocks (knock-downs) during that span on the O-line.
While his statistics are not overpowering, Koethe contributes to the improvement of the offensive line every day, whether in practice or in a game. The coaching staff appreciates Koethe?s contributions.
"It?s always important for our program to get kids like Scott Koethe," veteran offensive line coach Milt Tenopir said. "Scott has helped us immensely; especially going through a practice day and just being a swing guy who can relieve some of the pressure off the guys up ahead of him.
"He?s been a valuable guy on the line even though he hasn?t seen a lot of scrimmage downs on Saturdays. And he?s been doing a good job on our field goal and PAT teams for the past few years."
Koethe, who walked on as a freshman in 1998, has excelled on special teams. He knows he can?t relax for a single play, or the outcome of the game may be changed.
"You see so many types of different rushes, and sometimes you will be triple-teamed so they can try to blow through and get a jumper over you," Tenopir said. "That is one of the hardest plays in football, because the defense is coming in at 100 miles per hour. And Scott?s done a nice job. He hasn?t had any problems with teams getting penetration in his gap during his career."
The Central City, Neb., native?s steady play has provided a lesson in diligence for the younger players.
"I?ve tried to help out any way I can by just doing the right thing," Koethe said. "I?m not a vocal leader, but I try to lead by example and help out the other players."
For Koethe, being on the field no matter what unit he is playing with is better than the alternative.
"Getting on the field is special," Koethe said. "You kind of take it for granted (when you play special teams), because we are out there on PATs every time we score a touchdown. But there are a lot of guys who don?t even have the chance to get on the field."
Playing on special teams has provided Koethe with his greatest NU football memory to date. It was two years ago in Memorial Stadium. The Huskers won on a field goal on the last play of the game against today?s opponent, Colorado.