Nebraska Football Tailgate Talk: Those pesky Gophers…

Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Matt Rhule speaks at the introductory press conference(Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports)
Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Matt Rhule speaks at the introductory press conference(Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports) /

Nebraska football is finally back! You can tune in to Fox at 7pm CDT for the away game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Thursday night. WHAT?! Thursday night — wth?

Buckle up because I’m not a fan of change. Starting the season away AND on a Thursday night? Haven’t the Cornhusker faithful endured enough change for now? Everything has changed, including my tailgate spot (more on that later). Let’s start at the beginning with the new head Husker football coach, Matt Rhule. Time will tell on whether this son of a preacher man can deliver the Nebraska Football program to the promised land. And by “promised” I mean a bowl game every year is not even a question, and you’re close to winning the West division (or whatever that may end up being called because they’re changing that too with the addition of USC and UCLA …and Washington and Oregon).

So far I like the taste of the Rhule-aid that’s being poured in Lincoln. I like the sound of the new buzzwords like “get 1 percent better every day” and “focused on the details.” You may also see the caution triangle icon with “RDV” inside it: Relentless. Disciplined. Violent.

Don’t get your knickers in a twist (that word choice is an ode to the start of last season in Ireland) about the word violent. It’s not “violence.” If you are a football nerd like me you’ve heard the phrase “acting with violent intentions” in the game of football often and for a long time. It’s a violent sport. If you don’t like it, turn off the television and go find something else to entertain yourself. The Minnesota Gophers are some big boys and will be hitting violently. They lost 3 on the O-line which would usually be a good thing for the Husker defense, but they replaced them all with 5th year seniors. Not going to be much of a drop off there for the Gophers.

Head coach PJ Fleck is a strange little gopher with his capri pants and alleged botox fixation but he also wins 9 games a season and will no doubt be running the ball a lot at the Husker defense.

One of the few things that’s not new is the linebacker core thankfully. They return Nick Henrich (although reading he may be injured again as I write this) and Luke Reimer and that’s a really good (and violent) thing. Nebraska football will need to be able to stop teams from scoring on them if the Big Red offense is a little shaky and new. There are also other experienced guys behind them in the 22-person LB room (MJ Sherman, Jimari Butler, Chief Borders, and Javin Wright). Oh yeah… a new defensive scheme too, the 3 – 4. Of course.

The new Blackshirts have been handed out as well, but that’s a good thing. The entire Husker defense will need to carry the Husker team for a while I suspect.

A new thing I do like is the accountability that has been instilled. Nebraska football players learned early on that if you don’t follow the rules or being called out on things, there’s the door. There’s a reason why schools whose #1 priority isn’t football still do well in the rankings and playing the game like Air Force, Navy, and Army. It’s because of the discipline and accountability instilled in those young men every minute of every day. Think about it.

Also new, the quarterback. I’m a big Casey Thompson fan (now at FAU). I will try to be a Jeff Sims fan. He’s a 6′ 4″ dual threat QB from Jacksonville, Florida, who played at Georgia Tech before the transfer portal. It’s disconcerting to me to read things about him that begin “we’re working on his passing efficiency” (previously 58.5%) when he’s been playing for 3 years already. He can turn it over too (5 TDs and 3 INTs in his stat history). They left that part out of his Husker bio.

I am a fan of his new Amigo’s NIL deal combo though – a soft toco, crisp meat burrito, potatoes and a drink. Well played Amigo’s. I also want to believe that he won’t fold up like a lawn chair after getting hit several times by the Gopher defense.

Also new, a wide receivers coach, Garret McGuire, who is younger than most grad assistants. I’m not going to debate whether he has a good pedigree. He does come from a coaching family (dad is head coach at Texas Tech) but he’s only 24. He’s as far away from the caliber of a Mickey Joseph as the Husker O-line was from stopping a blitz last year. Time will tell.

There are also several new Nebraska football faces in that wide receiver room. Look for Billy Kemp (single digit winner, also a new thing), Alex Bullock, Isaiah Garcia-Castenada (not new) and probably Malachi Coleman to be names mentioned a lot. Marcus Washington is banged up but you may see him Thursday. Just catch the ball and run young men!

I could go on for pages on new things but since no one really knows what to expect from the Scarlet and Cream in their first conference game of the season, and first game of the season, let’s get to the part that’s not new – a recipe for the game. Since you may need a strong drink to get you through the tough trench war on Thursday, I’m again throwing a little ode to Ireland (the whiskey part) and calling it the Gopher Killer. Start with 2 oz. lemonade or squirt for the yellow color in a highball glass. Then add 2 oz. cranberry juice to it for the maroon bolor. Add in as much whiskey as you want, or need, to get through the game to kill the bad taste a first game loss may leave in your mouth. I’m hoping it’s a close game and good guys in red WIN.

The Nebraska football tailgate talk taste sensation of the week

My go to munchie for the game features a tasty snack mix I call the BBG (bacon bourbon goodness) made from Chex mix, whiskey (get the theme yet?), pecans, and bacon. For the original recipe, click here. Tweaking this recipe, I add a full pound of bacon, substitute Cajun seasoning instead of chili powder, and pour in 1/2 cup of bourbon instead of 2 TBS because I can. It’s at the top of my nephew’s favorites list for a reason.

Get out of work early and pick up a pizza, or 6-foot sub, on the way home to watch the game or to take over to that friend with the awesome man cave’s home. Keep the roster handy as lots of new faces all over the place. I’ll be happy if the Husker game ends within a score but will do a fancy little Irish jig if they win. Hit me up on the X @Kelian_NE or respond here if you want to share things. As always during Nebraska football season, GO BIG RED!