Nebraska Football Tailgate Talk: Friday night fight against Illini

LINCOLN, NEBRASKA - SEPTEMBER 23: General view of the stadium during the game between the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at Memorial Stadium on September 23, 2023 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)
LINCOLN, NEBRASKA - SEPTEMBER 23: General view of the stadium during the game between the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at Memorial Stadium on September 23, 2023 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images) /

Nebraska football plays Friday night in Champaign, Illinois, at 7pm on FS1 following a short week after getting molly-whopped by Michigan.

We all know it wasn’t pretty. Michigan had their way with us. The only solace is that at least it was by a #2 ranked team. What did we expect? Huskers aren’t even ranked.

It just bites to have that kind of 4-hour reminder, especially after the announcement of the $145 million dollar rebuild to the Nebraska football stadium and loss of south stands for at least 2 years. I would’ve made that announcement in between the No. Illinois and La Tech games. Just sayin…

I think what bothered most of us is that the stalwart Blackshirt defense that has been about the only bright spot for Big Red so far this season looked awful Saturday. No matter what gap Blue guys ran through with the ball, the Huskers didn’t have answers. Everyone keeps saying, “it’s just Coach Rhule’s first year.”

Agreed. Maybe if we hadn’t heard that during the Riley era, and the Frost era, Nebraska football fans wouldn’t carry such hardened doubt.

Unlike other seasons, however, I do believe Huskers Head Coach Matt Rhule will have his team rebound. He’s not going to let Michigan beat us twice this year. I liked his no excuses press conference and “this was unacceptable” tone.

This week should provide some answers. It’s a Get Right game. Nebraska football NEEDS a win going into the bye week. I want answers to what happened with the punt return game? I feel like it’s on the back of the milk carton. Do we have any receivers other than Bullock and Fidone? (technically a tight end) We later learned that WR Malachi Coleman was in concussion protocol. Huskers WR Jaden Doss has been hurt but is now available for Friday night. And, probably most importantly when an offense is struggling, does Tristan Alvano have a case of the yips, or is he just young?

I hope the Huskers play angry Friday. I think that will happen. Coach Rhule said, “We’re going to find out a lot about this team and the coaches on Friday night.” If their press conferences (DC Tony White too) were any indication, they will be playing with more “want-to” and confidence.

As for the opponent this week. Illinois is also 2-3. Their losses came from #7 ranked Penn State, Kansas Jayhawks and Purdue. However, despite those losses, the orange and blue have the Big Ten’s leading receiver in Isaiah Williams. Imagine having wide receivers that can catch…lots. Maybe wide receiver/running back Joshua Fleeks is the answer.

Also on the bright side for the Huskers, Illinois has its issues with their O-Line leaving little time for QB Luke Altmyer to complete his throws. Despite that, Isaiah Williams is a great wide receiver. He leads the B1G in catches and yards. Altmyer does have a big arm, just no time to do things. He can get yards on the run as well. (any of this sound familiar?) Orange and Blue has had its share of fumbles and interceptions this season also like Big Red. Toledo -1 INT and 2 fumbles; Kansas- 2 INTs; Purdue – 3 fumbles; and FAU -1 fumble and 1 INT.

It’s interesting that there wasn’t any chatter about who will be QB for Nebraska in these past two weeks. Still hearing Sims isn’t 100%. Heinrich Haarberg didn’t have an awful game. Let’s face it, he’s a Newby to the college game and he’s learning. He also admits when he’s messed up and takes accountability. That’s a refreshing change. I think he gets the start again and if he can have a good game, there may be a controversy coming out of the bye week.

This is the part of the Nebraska football schedule that should bring about wins. Illinois has problems protecting the pass rush. This is where I think Nebraska can make hay with a well-timed blitz or two. I have faith in Defensive Coordinator Tony White. Blackshirt Javen Wright could be the playmaker. Illinois is also giving up an average of 4.6 yards on the ground despite having a physical D-Line, It only has 7 sacks so far though.

Let’s hope Nebraska running backs can get movement and break a few open. Haarberg was also seen practicing the option pitches in practice this week. Huskers need to stop the run and keep the Illinois pass game to a small percentage. This is the time of the season where Huskers can capitalize and get some much-needed confidence back.

Nebraska football tailgate talk ahead of Illinois

Since people will be watching from the comfort of their couch in air conditioning after that sweltering game last week. Take advantage of the home-gate and order some pizza, or a couple of 6 foot subs. The cocktail I’m planning on enjoying is actually called a Chicago Cocktail but it’s made with Champagne. I figured why not. In a rocks glass, 2 ounces Brandy, 1/2 ounce triple sec, dash of bitters, 1 ounce champagne. Garnish with a lemon. It’s strong but you will be at home on a Friday night anyway this week.

I look for running back Anthony Grant and Emmett Johnson to be able to get more yards after halftime. Nebraska needs to get off the field defensively on third down. (rinse and repeat). I want to see a Blackshirt strip/recover and score this week. Most of all I want a W at the end of the day for Big Red. Take a deep breath Nebraska football fans. It’s almost the bye week. As always, GO BIG RED!