Why Matt Rhule thinks realignment 'could be really good' for Nebraska
The Big Ten’s addition of Washington and Oregon on Friday brought Nebraska coach Matt Rhule back to a conversation he once had with Trent Green. The former quarterback and current NFL analyst for CBS told Rhule he lives in Kansas City because of the amount of travel his job requires. It’s more convenient to live in the middle of the country than on either coast.
Therein lies the advantage Rhule thinks Nebraska will have when the 18-team Big Ten debuts in 2024. “This broadening of the conference could be really good for the University of Nebraska because we’re central, and we’re in the middle of it,” Rhule said. “And the weather will be good in football for us, but also just the travel will be more manageable than maybe some of the other teams.
” The Huskers are a reasonable flying distance from Oregon, Washington, USC and UCLA to the west and Maryland and Rutgers in the other direction. They’ll never have to traverse three time zones for conference games. It’s unlikely they’ll have to arrive home at 6 a.
m. local time after an away game at night, as the easternmost schools could be forced to do. Nebraska, currently the school furthest west in the conference, will soon be close to the center as the footprint of the rest of the league shifts around it.
Gifford stepping up Nebraska’s secondary lost a major contributor when safety Myles Farmer was suspended at the end of the summer and entered the transfer portal shortly after training camp began. In his stead, redshirt junior Isaac Gifford has established himself as someone who can handle a bigger role in the back end. After spending much of the past two seasons as the Huskers’ nickel back, the Lincoln Southeast product has moved to rover.
He’ll spend more time in the deeper part of the field but can still line up in the box. Nebraska’s plan is to give playing time to the three best safeties, regardless of where they fit specifically into the scheme. Rhule is comfortable with the Huskers’ depth at safety even with Farmer’s departure; Omar Brown, DeShon Singleton and Tommi Hill are all having solid camps.
But Gifford has been the standout player in the room through a week of training camp. He’s “the guy,” as Rhule put it, and “we’re trying to get the other guys behind him ready to push him. ” “He’s an alpha back there right now,” Rhule said.
“He’s had an amazing summer. The jump I’ve seen Gif make, his mentality, you don’t really realize until we did timing day how athletic he is. He’s a 35-inch vertical, 10-and-a-half broad, 4.
5 (40-yard dash) guy. He’s a multi-year, probably, NFL player in terms of talent, and his mindset’s come a long way with it in terms of just taking control back there. ” Prochazka 'banged up' Nebraska offensive tackle Teddy Prochazka — who has missed the majority of the last two seasons with knee injuries — is “banged up” again, coach Matt Rhule said after Saturday’s practice.
Turner Corcoran is NU’s current No. 1 left tackle, as he was in the spring and the last two seasons when Prochazka has been hurt. Prochazka, an Elkhorn South graduate, should return by the first or second game this season.
“I love Teddy, but Turner’s been No. 1 with the offensive tackle every day since I’ve been here,” Rhule said. “So that’s what I know, right? I just feel bad for Teddy because he’s such a wonderful young man and a wonderful teammate, and he was so excited to get out there.
” Rhule said he wants injured players to “embrace the delay” — a line he got from the father of Brodie Tagaloa, who will miss this season due to injuries received in a car accident. With Jacob Hood working through chronic ankle pain, Nebraska has few offensive tackles available. Utah transfer Tyler Knaak is one, as is true freshman and Lincoln Southeast graduate Gunnar Gottula.
More notes * Receiver Marcus Washington, who was wearing a cast on his wrist, will be “full go” by Monday. * NU went through a “simulated” scrimmage on Saturday, tackling fewer than 50% of the time. Because of the team’s split practice strategy, players got between 150-190 reps, far more than they would have in a single-group setting.
– Sam McKewon, Omaha World-Herald contributed to this story. .