LINCOLN — It appears in retrospect, after all of the clamoring from media and Nebraska fans, that Roy Helu was simply too good too soon. The sophomore I-back carried the football 10 times in a game just once during the Huskers' first eight of this season.
Considering his swift moves and superior play in limited action, there's only one explanation — Helu wasn't entirely ready.
"He's evolved into what he's become," NU offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said this week. "The one thing I see is the level of confidence he's developed. For a young player to play as fast and decisive as he has the past four games, the cornerstone of all that is confidence."
Translation: In case you haven't noticed, Helu is ready now.
He's also ready, after rushing for 510 yards in November, to lay claim to the job during the next two seasons as the Huskers' workhorse I-back.
As Nebraska resumes practice today in anticipation of its official invitation Sunday to play in the Jan. 1 Gator Bowl against Clemson, the Huskers have a running game again.
NU has averaged 211.7 yards per game on the ground during the past six, a 56 percent improvement over its output in the first half of the season.
And the player primarily responsible? An introspective and spiritual 19-year-old from Danville, Calif., unwilling to accept more than a small share of credit for Nebraska's second-half surge.
"We all know it's a team sport, and that's what it comes down to," said Helu, who ran for 209 yards last season as a true freshman. "It's humbling to have an offensive line this good. I'm just trying to let everyone know that I'm a product of what we're doing offensively up front.
"You should be interviewing them, to be honest. Me making plays in the open field is just a reflection of what they're doing up front."
Clearly, though, Helu deserves credit.