May 24, 2024

Matt Rhule upset with officiating following road victory over Illinois

Nebraska Cornhuskers Football

Nebraska Coach Matt Rhule discusses a previous play during a timeout with officials in the second quarter against Illinois Friday October 6, 2023 at Memorial Stadium. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Nebraska is coming off its’ first Big Ten win of the season, which was by double-digits, and on the road.

It was enough to encourage Big Red Nation about the direction of the season. However, Coach Matt Rhule felt the officials gave his team a hard time, especially on offense. After all, the Huskers committed a season-high, 10 penalties for 70 yards.

Normally Rhule would understand if his players were making silly mistakes. He’s all about taking accountability, but when the players are battling the opposition and the officials, winning is tough to come by.

“I was really, really upset with the officials tonight, and I never talk about officiating, but I just want to defend my team,” Rhule said. ”

From false starts, to offsides, Nebraska (3-3) couldn’t catch a break at the line of scrimmage. The noisy crowd didn’t make it any easier for Rhule’s boys. Which is why he’s proud of the way the Huskers persevered through adversity, and that will be beneficial down the stretch.

Regardless, it’s hard to coach and execute the plays you’ve practiced all week, when the refs tell you that you’re doing it wrong. The defensive line stemming with all of the movement and shifts before the snap became an issue throughout the game for Rhule.

“After about the third or fourth time I was like at what point are we going to figure out that every third and one, fourth and one, they’re yelling move, go, and our guys are just trying to play football,” he said. “If that’s legal I guess it’s a set, I’ve asked if it’s legal, maybe it is maybe it isn’t, but I just want to make sure that I defend my guys, so I’m not criticizing the officials as much as I’m saying they weren’t just jumping offsides.”

Some coaches are stubborn with their play-calling and game plan, but Rhule made the necessary adjustments on the fly, and put his players in the best places to be successful. Now Husker fans are wondering if the alarming number of penalties were an isolated situation, or a lack of mental toughness.

Nebraska is currently tied for 86th nationally in number of penalties. Considering the Huskers have depth issues, and there’s growing pains on offense, Rhule knows his team has a slim margin for error. The last thing he wants is for his players to give officials a reason to throw their flags. Everyone, including the coaches has to be fundamentally sound, on the same page and trust each other for it all to operate smoothly.

That’s why the Rhule isn’t going to overreact to the jaw-dropping number of penalties, because it wasn’t an accurate reflection of his Huskers.

“We’re not a sloppy team, that is not football to me,” the 48-year old said.

Nebraska will have plenty of time to iron out all of the wrinkles entering a bye-week. By the time the Huskers resume Big Ten play, Rhule is expecting his squad to operate like a well-oiled machine.