Close to 2,000 fans give Solich ovation before opener

Updated: August 28, 2003, 11:22 AM ET

OMAHA, Neb. -- If Nebraska coach Frank Solich was worried about fan support after a 7-7 season, he may have had some reassurance Thursday.

About 2,000 people gave him a standing ovation Thursday at a Big Red Breakfast set up to highlight Saturday's opener against Oklahoma State.

"The support has been great over the years," Solich said. "The 255 consecutive sellouts speak volumes. All of us -- the coaches, players, everyone in the athletic department -- appreciate it."

Solich begins his 25th season at Nebraska, his sixth as head coach, with the nationally televised game against the Cowboys and their talented offense led by quarterback Josh Fields.

"This will be an exciting and interesting season," Solich said. "The team is energized and excited to play Oklahoma State. The Cowboys have a great team, especially on offense. It'll be a great game."

With a schedule that includes Penn State, Texas, Kansas State and Colorado, Solich said there are challenges ahead for Nebraska.

"We are optimistic, but that's my nature," Solich said. "We think we have the chemistry we need between coaches and players and we have a good talent level."

Solich revamped his coaching staff after last year, replacing or reassigning six of nine assistants. For the first time since 1969, the Cornhuskers did not make the AP Top 25 preseason poll.

The new coaching staff includes defensive coordinator Bo Pelini and offensive coordinator Barney Cotton.

"We have an enthusiastic coaching staff, a demanding coaching staff, but the players and staff have meshed together well," Solich said. "I like the way the players have responded to the demands."

Quarterback Jammal Lord is among players who have improved over last year, Solich said.

"I think he is a much more confident football player," Solich said. "He has taken on a leadership role and I think our players have noticed that. That's why he was selected as one of our captains. I think that helps him, as will another year under his belt."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index