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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
IRVING, Texas -- Nebraska coach Bo Pelini can tell a difference in the way his team is approaching workouts this summer.
"Right now, our program understands what it means to put in a good, hard day of work," Pelini said. "The culture of the program is getting firmer. The players are starting to get it, and I feel better about where we are at this point."
That attitude is a marked change from what Pelini inherited when he took over the program last season.
The Cornhuskers were 5-7 in 2007, the year before Pelini arrived, and won only two of eight conference games. But their familiarity after last season, when the Cornhuskers earned a share of the Big 12 North title, has helped flush those bad memories away.
"I thought when I first got here there was a sense of dread," Pelini said. "Now, they are looking to get better. They understand what it means to get out there and work."
Pelini said last season's accomplishments, capped by a Gator Bowl victory over Clemson, has helped push expectations for his squad.
"There's a sense of anticipation where we are headed," Pelini said. "I feel better about where we are at this point. We're still not a finished product, but there's a sense of anticipation in where we are headed."
Nebraska senior center Jacob Hickman stole a term from one of his business classes to describe the change he has noted in his team since Pelini arrived.
"There definitely is a change of mentality, but it wasn't a sense of dread," Hickman said. "People are on the same page and they want to get better. We have a lot of goal congruence. It gives us something to look forward to and build on."