The more things change, the more they stay the same.
That’s life as a Nebraska football fan. It doesn’t matter if the head coach changes, the ineptitude continues as the Huskers once again lost a game they had zero business losing.
If you just watched the game and didn’t keep score, Nebraska was easily the better team. The Huskers dominated, especially on defense, for most of the night, but couldn’t get out of their own way.
There were the two false start penalties that took two touchdowns off the board. Four turnovers, including two in the last four minutes, that lost Nebraska football the game.
It was baffling but at the same time, not surprising given the trend of this program since the day Tom Osborne retired.
Here are three takeaways from a 13-10 loss as brutal as any in the Frost era.
Jeff Sims was great but disastrous
Sims was great at times. His ability to run the football and his touchdown pass were the reason Nebraska had the lead. But his three interceptions were the reason the Huskers lost. He committed the cardinal sin of throwing it up in the end zone right before half, taking points off the board. Then did the same when the Huskers were driving for a win — throwing it up over the middle of the field.
The knock on Sims at Georgia Tech was his inability to protect the ball and that hasn’t changed. As talented as he is, Nebraska football isn’t going to win if he’s that loose with the football.
You just can’t survive that many shots to the foot.
The defense was spectacular
I feel bad for the Blackshirts because they brought it. Allowing 13 points (10 thanks to a pair of fourth-quarter turnovers) should have been more than enough to win the game.
Nebraska held Minnesota to 55 yards rushing. Athan Kaliakmanis completed just 24-of-44 passes. Tony White was masterful and outside of Malcolm Hartzog getting toasted on the TD pass, the secondary was pretty much flawless.
Omar Brown made 2-3 incredible plays including the interception. Quinton Newsome was lights out and Josh Bullock was damn good too. Isaac Gifford also had a great game and was close to ending it on the play before the Minnesota touchdown.
Yet, that great defensive effort was wasted because of turnovers and penalties by the offense. The Blackshirts couldn’t have been much better and Nebraska still lost.
The honeymoon period won’t last long now
Matt Rhule will find out quickly what it really means to be Nebraska football head coach. He’s about to get questioned and his quarterback is about to get a rude wake-up call.
This job is a pressure cooker and it spits people out like nothing. Mike Riley and Scott Frost were successful head coaches in other places. Riley won at Oregon State and that’s not easy to do.
Being the Nebraska football head coach isn’t for everybody and with the way that game went down, Rhule is going to get tested much earlier than expected, because lose next week, and the honeymoon is officially over.
This is another game most other teams win about 99 out of 100 times. But Nebraska found a way to lose again — which has become the defining characteristic of this program.
I hope Matt Rhule can change it. But the first game wasn’t a great sign. In fact, it was more of the same.
Nebraska Football: Matt Rhule not afraid to play two quarterbacks
Nebraska football head coach Matt Rhule addressed the possibility of playing two quarterbacks for Saturday’s game against Louisiana Tech. It doesn’t exactly sound like he is opposed to doing that.
Jeff Sims was the starter for Nebraska for the first two games of the season. An ankle injury kept him out of last Saturday’s contest against Northern Illinois. Heinrich Haarberg filled in for Sims and played well, tallying three total touchdowns for the game.
There is little doubt that Sims was brought in to be the starting quarterback for Nebraska, especially with Casey Thompson’s departure. However, Sims struggles and Haarberg’s emergence last Saturday have certainly made things interesting. Haarberg looked in control of the offense. It didn’t always look the smoothest at times, but he made it work.
Rhule addressed the possibility of playing two quarterbacks when he met with the media on Thursday, as reported by KLNTV’s Lauren Michelson.
Matt Rhule talking quarterbacks…will either be Jeff Sims or Heinrich Haarberg starting on Saturday.
— Lauren Michelson (@LaurenMichelson) September 21, 2023
A positive development for Nebraska Football
This undoubtedly has to be music to the ears of the fans. It certainly is for me. Playing multiple guys was not something the previous coaching staff did, and it undoubtedly hurt everybody involved, including quarterback Adrian Martinez.
One of the biggest mistakes Scott Frost made on the field was hitching his proverbial wagon to Martinez. It doesn’t sound like Rhule is going to do that with Sims.
Of course, we will have to wait until Saturday to see if the headman is true to his word. It’s one thing to say it in a press conference. We saw Scott Frost do that for multiple seasons. It’s another thing to actually follow through and do it in a game, or looking at the bigger picture, throughout the course of the season.
It will be interesting to see what happens under center on Saturday. Will Nebraska football go with Sims? Alternatively, will they go with Haarberg, who led them to victory last Saturday? Time will tell, but at least Matt Rhule is keeping his options open.
Nebraska Football: Matt Rhule has health update on Jeff Sims
Nebraska football head coach Matt Rhule gave a positive prognosis on quarterback Jeff Sims Thursday afternoon. Rhule indicated that Sims had a good week of practice and that he was moving and throwing the football well.
Sims has had a difficult start to the 2023 season. He has tallied one touchdown and four interceptions, and has 220 passing yards in total. Fumbling has been an issue for him through the first two games as well. He has had difficulty handling snaps.
Quarterback Heinrich Haarberg played on Saturday, as Sims was dealing with an ankle injury. Haarberg threw for 198 yards and two touchdowns on 14-of-24 passes. He also rushed for 98 yards and a touchdown. He brought a dual-threat element to the table, similar to that of Sims.
"Jeff's had a good week of practice," Rhule said Thursday of the QB Sims. "Moved around well. Threw the ball around well. Coming off an injury like that I can't say that he's maybe 100 percent but you don't notice that there's anything wrong with him as he plays."
— Brian Christopherson (@Husker247BC) September 21, 2023
A positive development for Nebraska football
It’s certainly good to hear that Sims is healthy and has practiced well throughout the week. Whatever your opinion is of his play throughout the season, Nebraska football needs him to be healthy. Depth is a problem at the quarterback spot. Experience is lacking there as well.
Although Sims is struggling as a quarterback, there is no doubt he is a solid athlete. His ability to run the football has been his biggest strength so far this season. He has 158 rushing yards so far on the year, and has averaged 5.4 yards per carry. A 57-yard rush has been his longest of the season to this point. Nebraska has certainly made him a focal point of their running attack, as he has 29 carries on the year so far.
Nebraska football is in a welcome predicament with two quarterbacks who have the ability to start. The health of Sims is a positive, as Nebraska begins to enter the meat of their schedule. It will be interesting to see how the situation plays out.
3 keys to a victory for Nebraska football vs. Louisiana Tech
Nebraska football will be looking for a second straight win on Saturday and here are three keys against Louisiana Tech.
For the second week in a row, Nebraska football will be at home. It’s the second of three straight home games and the Huskers will be looking to take advantage of their incredible home-field advantage once again.
Before big bad Michigan comes to Lincoln on Sept. 30, Nebraska football will have a final non-conference game against Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs are 2-2 but have been really up and down in the second season under head coach Sonny Cumbie.
Louisiana Tech runs an air-raid offense but does have a couple of talented running backs. Quarterback Hank Bachmeier is a Boise State transfer but is questionable for the game on Saturday due to a shoulder injury.
The defense ranks 100th in scoring defense. Louisiana Tech is 63rd in scoring offense and while Nebraska football has its own question marks, such as who will start at quarterback? The Huskers are a 19-point favorite and here are three keys to a win on Saturday.
Keep stuffing the run
When you think of Louisiana Tech, you don’t necessarily think of a running team, but the Bulldogs average 5.1 yards per attempt and 181 yards per game on the ground. True freshman Keith Willis has 240 rushing yards and averages 7.3 yards per attempt. Tyre Shelton averages 10.2 yards per attempt and is also over 200 yards for the season.
But if there is one thing Nebraska football has excelled at it is run defense. The Huskers have held each of their opponents to fewer than 60 yards rushing. They also rank among college football’s top five in rushing yards per game (46.3) and rushing yards allowed per attempt (1.7).
If that continues on Saturday, I feel really good about Nebraska’s chances of winning without incident. Yet, if the Bulldogs can find success on the ground, things could get interesting.
Hit the quarterback, whoever it is
Whether it’s Bachmeier or Jack Turner who has thrown for 146 yards and a touchdown this season, as well as an interception, Nebraska football needs to hit the quarterback and it should have an easy time getting home.
Louisiana Tech ranks 110th in the FBS in terms of sacks allowed per game. The Bulldogs have allowed 11 total and that’s an average of 2.75 sacks per game. Nebraska football is in the top five in college football with 14 sacks total and 4.6 per game.
The Huskers have done a great job of getting pressure from different levels. Tony White has done a great job of creating blitzes and the defensive line is also winning one-on-ones.
This feels like a game where the Huskers shouldn’t have a problem getting four or five sacks, especially if Nebraska football is able to build a double-digit lead and pin its ears back.
Run the damn ball
It’s not ideal that Nebraska football lost two of its top three running backs to season-ending injuries, but the Huskers should be licking their chops this week.
Louisiana Tech is allowing 4.9 yards per rushing attempt which doesn’t bode well against a Nebraska ground game that is second in the Big Ten, ranked in the top 25 nationally, and averages 5.1 per rush.
Nebraska is getting 209 yards per game and the quarterbacks have been a big part of it. Whether Jeff Sims gets the start of Heinrich Haarberg, I expect plenty of quarterback runs again.
With Anthony Grant taking over as the bell cow, Nebraska is going to need to lean on its quarterbacks and even if Haarberg isn’t the starter, I want to see both utilized in the running game, because it has been one of the most effective parts of the offense through three games.
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