All season—just as Nebraska leaned on its offensive line—the Hurricanes have been saved by their superb defense, the heart of which is Sapp, who loves nothing more than blasting through great linemen and stopping a drive cold, who wants to face an offense that believes it can't be stopped, who lives now for New Year's night, when the nation's No. 1 line and No. 1 defense will battle for everything.
Come get some...the voice in his head says, but now Sapp is saying it out loud. He is crooking his index fingers, beckoning. He grins. "Come get some. Come get some. Come get some," he says.
"Look at you," Wiegert says. "You've got some big arms."
"I do have some arms, don't I?" Zatechka says.
This is how their conversations go, typical undergrad blabber—until you realize it is more self-mockery than anything else and that the blatantly insincere compliments usually flow one way. This is because Wiegert, a sure first-round pick in the NFL draft, a 300-pound man who can dunk a basketball with two hands or drain three-pointers if you would like, can do with ease what no amount of lifting or running or watching film can ever teach Zatechka. Wiegert is a natural.
Zatechka is a natural too, but of a different kind: He graduated last May with a 4.0 grade point average in biological sciences and is applying to medical school. He rarely studied outside class; he attributes his grades to the fact that he found a field he liked. Just for the heck of it, he studied endocrinology this semester. Last month Zatechka withdrew his much-publicized application for a Rhodes scholarship.
"You would've gotten it," Wiegert says. "Four-point-0 and playing football?"
"Hell, yeah, I'm so damn smart," Zatechka says, except no amount of false cockiness can hide the fact that it's true. He decided against applying for the Rhodes not only because he wants to marry his girlfriend, Jennifer Putensen, and the Rhodes doesn't accept married candidates, but also mostly because the Rhodes won't let anyone defer the scholarship for a year or two. And Zatechka is more immediately intrigued by the next level of brawn than brains.
"I'm not some stellar candidate for pro football..." Zatechka says.
"You're there," Wiegert says, thumbing through a menu. "You're in the zone, baby."