Hollowell all but forgets last year's disappointment

Updated: October 29, 2003, 7:15 PM ET

LINCOLN, Neb. -- When T.J. Hollowell ponders the success of Nebraska's linebackers, he sometimes wonders why it couldn't have been like this last year.

The top three tacklers are starting linebackers, and they are without question the strength of the defense.

Hollowell has moved from weakside to Buck linebacker, a variation of the old strongside linebacker position. A year ago Hollowell was splitting time with Demorrio Williams on the weakside in the system coordinated by Craig Bohl.

"Obviously, I wasn't happy, and Demorrio wasn't happy," Hollowell said. "It messed with us a lot in the head. It was what it was, and we can't change that. We're on to better days now."

This season it's as if Hollowell is unleashing a career's worth of pent-up frustration.

Hollowell has been considered one of the Cornhuskers' top talents since arriving from Copperas Cove, Texas, in 2000. Until this year, his senior season, he had started only two games.

When Bo Pelini replaced Bohl, one of his first decisions was to get Hollowell and Williams on the field at the same time.

Hollowell, who made 60 tackles in 14 games last season, has 47 through eight games.

Though the numbers are comparable, Hollowell is now playing a position where he is less likely to be involved in every play. The Huskers' scheme requires Hollowell to line up over the tight end on some plays and on the side of the offense's passing strength on others.

"I'm not digging into the running game, so it's hard for me to rack up as many tackles and sacks as Barrett (Ruud) and Demorrio," Hollowell said. "I handle my responsibility, and they do, too. As long as we do, we'll keep being successful."

Pelini said Hollowell has made "a ton of plays" in spite of playing a less-than-glamorous position.

Hollowell is just glad to be playing.

"Me, personally, it's a great year," he said. "In the past I was more of a backup or rotating and not really playing the football I wanted to play. Now that I am, I'm really happy with what I've been doing."

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