5 key takeaways from Matt Rhule’s Monday PC on Nebraska Football

Head coach Matt Rhule of Nebraska Cornhuskers answers questions at the press conference following the game at Memorial Stadium (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)
Head coach Matt Rhule of Nebraska Cornhuskers answers questions at the press conference following the game at Memorial Stadium (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images) /

Matt Rhule talked to the Nebraska Football media contingent yesterday, as he does every Monday during the season.

After three straight wins, the mood was cheery in Lincoln. Following the letdown in Lansing this past Saturday, the tone’s been more subdued. Rhule addressed some issues from the game and also looked ahead to this weekend’s contest with Maryland.

Here are five quick thoughts on the presser.

Matt Rhule is part coach, part psychologist, part Nebraska Football exorcist

Great coaches don’t just understand Xs and Os and the mechanics of a sport.

They also get more out of their team than anyone thought possible by helping them grow the mental aspect of their game.

We know that Matt Rhule is a tenacious motivator. His pre-game and halftime speeches have already ascended to legendary status on social media.

In his remarks today, he discussed how Nebraska Football must face its demons and fears.

Sounds more like a psychologist than coach if you ask me.

In a way, Rhule was hired to help Nebraska Football exorcise their demons. That doesn’t just happen by calling the right plays at the right time, vital as that is.

It happens by building a culture of belief. I’ve said this before, but each time we hear Matt Rhule speak, we see how he’s building his program. It’s a wonder to behold.

Thankfully, in year one, Rhule has his team believing they belong in games of consequence in November.

Rhule calls out Big Ten officiating for what it is, and I’m here for it

Let’s call a spade a spade: Big Ten officiating in every sport leaves much to be desired.

On Saturday, however, it was egregious. Nebraska didn’t deserve to win the game. But on the scoreboard, they were in it at the end. But the referees didn’t help. By my count, there were five obvious missed calls:

  • The fumble on the last drive should have been called an incomplete pass.
  • Malachi Coleman’s catch on the last drive should have been a first down, stopping the clock (which would have saved 10-15 seconds)
  • A DPI against MSU on Malachi Coleman in the 4th quarter.
  • Michigan State’s 4th quarter TD reception actually hit the ground and yet replay confirmed the call.
  • Michigan State grabbed Haarberg’s facemask right in front of the head referee but it wasn’t called (the next play HH threw an interception).

On Monday, Matt Rhule told the truth about officiating. But he wasn’t disrespectful. As always, he was 100 percent class.

At the same time, Rhule won’t use officiating as an excuse for losing

Rhule took a lot of social media flack on Monday for his comments on the refs.

But if you watch the whole press conference–or even just the two minutes after his comments above–you’ll see hear that Rhule isn’t using poor officiating as an excuse.

He said:

"“That [the bad officiating] doesn’t mean we lost the game. We aren’t excuse-makers. But the type of team we are right now, we can’t have seven points spotted. I’m not complaining about officiating. But replay. Replay is hard for me to understand…[B]ut you know what, we are where we are. And the issues about giving up sacks and turning the ball over, those are the main issues we’re going to work on controlling. You guys did ask me about that, and I did want to answer that.”"

You have to admit, this is refreshing, isn’t it? A coach who stands up for his players.

Some fans–definitely Carolina Panthers fans–will hear this differently than me. But Rhule has a knack for saying just the right thing, with the right tone, when it matters most.

Something has to be done about Nebraska Football’s punt returns

What in the world is with punt returns when the Huskers visit East Lansing?

Two years ago, Nebraska couldn’t stop a Michigan State punt return for a touchdown that tied the game. (Still the most mind-boggling loss in the last 15 years of Nebraska football for me.)

This year, it was Nebraska catching punt after punt after punt. Seven of them, actually.

And not returning one.

This one especially was maddening:

I’m all for Billy Kemp being a team player to catch these punts to secure the football and a change of possession despite dealing with an injury.

But if he’s not healthy enough to run, he shouldn’t be out there.

And if Ethan Nation could catch and return the last punt of the game, why couldn’t he have been out there for the first punt of the game?

Hopefully, Nation gets his opportunity from the get-go this week against Maryland.

I’m still confused about what’s going on at the QB position

Matt Rhule told us that Heinrich Haarberg is the starter against Maryland.

HH has been a great story. But he’s now a liability at quarterback. Really, he has been for the past three games.

Haarberg was indecisive as ever on Saturday. He wasn’t processing quickly. He made the wrong read several times. He didn’t throw the ball away when he should. He overthrew receivers. He held onto the ball too long when he should have scrambled for positive yards.

These are things he knows, that Matt Rhule knows, that offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield knows.


Could Rhule turn to Jeff Sims? Sims seems like an amazing person and teammate. But something has gone haywire for him this year, and he simply can’t run the most basic plays without going the wrong way or inexplicably dropping the ball.

I get why Sims isn’t playing.

But then there’s Chubba (affectionately called “CHEW-buh” by several TV commentators) Purdy. Remember, before his injury, Purdy was apparently QB2 behind Sims. He’s also the most natural passer of the bunch.

I think Purdy’s played a total of one–maybe two snaps–against Colorado.

With HH’s struggles as of late, why hasn’t Purdy gotten a nod? Is he that far behind HH? Is it not really 100% healthy? Is it something else? He’s already used his redshirt, so it can’t be that.

It’s all confusing to me.

I hope it’s not confusing to Matt Rhule. If Nebraska Football wants to get to a bowl game, he needs to find an answer quickly.