Rhule Meets The Media Before Iowa

Photo Credit: Nebraska Athletics Photo Credit: Nebraska Athletics

Head Coach Matt Rhule met with members of the media following Wednesday’s practice. He spoke on the defensive line, Iowa’s punt game and blocking out the noise. 

“I’m always one of those guys that when I come into a job I kind of examine things for a year and just try to figure it out,” he said. “Obviously the league is changing next year so we will have to see what next year’s Big Ten looks like. The game is won upfront with the big guys in this league. To have those guys come back next year is great. I think our offensive and defensive line play has really improved over the course of the year. I think we have really good talented young players too. I think the leadership that Ty (Robinson) brings is awesome. We have a really good solid foundation with those groups.”

He talked about Iowa’s punt game. 

“It’s just program commitment,” Rhule said. “You watch them play, they get the ball, they get a couple first downs, they go down and score, great. If not, they punt the ball down inside the 10. They play great defense. They suffocate you. The punt returns are not all equal. The punt returns inside their own 20 give you a chance to create a great return. You don’t have to worry about the fake. You can double people. You can have a guy drop back. They come after you. They’re trying to block it. Their punt team is so challenging. There’s a bunch of different looks and shifts. It’s really impressive to watch the way that they play in totality. Every single guy on that team knows how important the punt return unit is. You look at our punt returns. They’ve been backed up from our 10,15, 20. You don’t want to field those balls and not let the ball run down to the three. We’ve worked on that throughout the course of the year. As we grow, the key is to make them punt from their 15, 20. You don’t have to worry about them faking. You can be more return oriented and go after blocks. I think we have a dynamic young returner in Ethan (Nation). He’s really gonna grow. We’re just trying to build to that. It’s the way they tilt the field early in games. You just end up playing the whole game on their side of the field. When you make a mistake, they then capitalize on it. It’s worked for them for 27 years. It’s a proven formula. It’s one we have to have an answer to.” 

He also talked about blocking out the noise.

“It’s just part of football nowadays,” he said. “It’s just part of sports. It’s great. It’s why the stadium is full. There is a lot of commentary. At the end of the day, you can only control what you can control. Just like when we were on a three-game win streak, I didn’t consider us on a three-game win streak. We were trying to go 1-0 that week. To me it is all about us versus Iowa. Things that they do well and the things that we do well and the things we have to take advantage of and the things that they are going to try and take advantage of. I’m just trying to constantly reiterate that to the players. That is the only benefit of a season like this in year one. You have these ebbs and flows and turns. It all comes down to one game never carried on into another. Just teaching the guys that football is football. We are going to go out and play and have fun.”

The Huskers will kick off against Iowa at 11:00 a.m. (CT) on Friday, Nov. 22 in Lincoln, Neb. The game will be televised on CBS and radio coverage will be provided by Huskers Radio Network and Huskers.com.