Today is the first part of things I would say I have my eye on that could be issues for us moving forward. Every staff has them, they just are a bit different from team to team based on not only the team that the new coach inherited, but also the roster that they get. Here are a few that i’ve had conversations about over the past 2 months.
Look, this concerns me a bit. I’ve always said that Nebraska shouldn’t be a place to cut your teeth as a coach. You should be an established P5 guy at minimum. Rhule bucked the trend on that and went completely opposite, minus his coordinators. We will see how this goes. I think a guy like Knighton and others will be ok, but the one that really concerns me is the WR coach.
He’s the same age as these guys he’s coaching, he has an absolutely packed room of guys that think they should be starting because they’ve played before, and oh by the way if Thompson ends up not starting you are going to have 2-3 guys in there that are going to be pissed and may spiral away from you (which is another reason I think Sims is your guy coming out of spring, make the decision and then the guys that get mad about it can be on their way). We already had a recruit be suspended a game his senior year for arguing with his high school coaches because he didn’t like who they chose to play QB. It can get ugly and cancerous in a hurry.
I think this is a young guys game anymore from a coaching standpoint. I sure as heck wouldn’t want to spend hours on Twitter DM’ing guys. So there is definitely a positive in some aspects of this. However, a lot of these guys don’t have experience to know how to handle situations. Rhule, Satterfield, White, and Foley are going to try and coach them up and bring them along, but the reality is they are going to have their own position rooms and film sessions where things are said without guidance. They don’t have experience to lean on when dealing with certain situations. There will be some growing pains, but minimizing them will be key for Rhule and company.
Get off the bus
This one is interesting. If any of you talk to Rhule or the other coaches, they can’t believe that this team hasn’t been to a bowl game in 6 years. They see our guys and it’s nothing like what they inherited at Temple or Baylor. Let’s forget that we have 60 more scholarship players right now than this staff did when they got to Waco, but as i’ve always said about our previous weight room staff, they are great at getting guys to look good in the mirror, but we were awful on the football field. That’s what i’ll be curious about when spring football starts. I think Rhule sees these guys tossing weight around and looking jacked, and he’s excited. But what’s going to happen when they have to move quickly and make football plays? Because that’s what it’s all about. One things for sure, this comment makes me think this staff gets it, i’m just not sure if they understand we are a bit further away than they know right now:
As my Iowa friend told me with the last staff, “well, if a squatting competition breaks out on the 50 yard line you guys may have a chance. Since it’s a football game i’m sure you’ll lose.” Here’s hoping we can shift the intention. Sounds like we are off to a good start.
Sticking with what we think we have and what we may not, I think it was imperative that we landed that Stanford starting lineman instead of the Georgia kid. The Stanford guy would have stepped in and started day 1 for us like Ben Scott is going to. The Georgia lineman is going to need some time to develop. While I appreciate Rhule’s confidence he can get us going with what we have, I think he will learn pretty quick that we need a lot of help across the offensive and defensive lines. He can have us up and running to beat our non-conference schedule, but we will see on what he can do to get us up to par with the B1G.
It’s my belief that after spring you will see many more OL and DL transfer portal offers going out. We need help on DL for sure, but I think OL is still an issue as well.
Strength and Conditioning
I’ve had a few people reach out to me about this, and i’ve withheld any judgment. And quite frankly, it’s because I really didn’t know. I try not to speak on things unless I have a pretty good knowledge base on them. With the last 2 coaches, I knew who we were getting. MP came from USC where I had plenty of connections to know what we were getting, Duval came and I knew what was going on. I wanted to hear more about who we were bringing in and what the players were saying before I offered any opinion. In comes Corey Campbell and I have no clue about any of his philosophies. But here is what we kind of know so far and what i’ve heard.
I’ll first start out by saying the people I follow in the S&C community that I respect really don’t like Rhule from an offseason weight room standpoint. I couldn’t figure out why that was at all. They would never go into detail, and for me I always thought that it really isn’t the head coach doing the drills anyway so why can it just be him from place to place? But it is the head coaches philosophy that needs to be followed by the weight staff, and one of the big things that came out is Mat Drills. Ahh… it’s making more sense now.
You see, everyone wants to know what Mat Drills are and why they are so important this year, but the truth of the matter is every team for the most part does these in one form or another. This isn’t just some revolutionary thing that Matt Rhule has thought of. But ‘Mat Drills’ took off like wildfire amongst our media and fans. It reminded me of when ‘soft-tissue injuries’ were being reported on by our media when guys would sit out a practice during fall camp, even though they were just resting. It reminded me of ‘rugby tackling’ when we brought those coaches in. I digress… The problem with Mat Drills is, strength coaches typically don’t believe that they help improve the athletes on the field. Conversely, football coaches think it’s vitally important because they can figure out who is riding with them and who is throwing their hands up.
Mat Drills come in so many different forms, go run on the indoor field, go to the wrestling room, and do all these different exercises like ladder drills, rope pulls, tire wrestling, whatever. Here’s why many strength coaches hate it… You get done pushing the guys in the weight room to their max to try and breakdown the muscles enough so they get even stronger the following week and prepare them for the season. But after you are done lifting you have to say “ok now head to Hawks where the coaches who will be determining who is starting gets to see who is a pussy and who isn’t, who’s gonna ride with us and who wants off the train!” That’s not exactly what’s said, but you get the picture. It just completely blows up your CNS, and in turn creates a more difficult way to continue development because you aren’t going to have a great weight room session 1 and 2 days after, you’re fried.
But with that said, we went into this up above, Rhule has to figure out a way to cut 20% of his scholarship players. He really doesn’t have to worry about burning people out because he needs to find out who wants to be at Nebraska, and more importantly who wants to do what it takes to be great on the football field. Pushing yourself past where you think you can go is what can help us in the 4th quarter and turn one score losses into wins (this is the basic philosophy of our coaches).
Rhule even had a photo that split the two philosophies again on the matter:
Strength coaches will tell you that pushing a sled in 0 degree weather isn’t going to help you. But this tweet reminds me of something Osborne used to say during recruiting. You see, us fans always cross our fingers for warmer weather when we have a high-profile recruit in town because we want them to enjoy it. But Tom Osborne said he wanted the weekend as cold as possible when that recruit was here, he wants to see who can handle the elements of what we are going to play in. It’s like that old psycho girl your friend used to date who would just berate him in public at the bar, and then post a Facebook status claiming “if you can’t handle me at my worst you don’t deserve me at my best” as if it’s your friends fault for not wanting to deal with someone that acts that way. With Rhule having to cut 20% of his scholarship guys, why not figure out who actually wants to be up in Nebraska come November in the elements when those are the games that will determine going to a bowl or the conference championship game.
I have no problem with it right now. We are early in the tenure, but I have no massive red flags like I did with the previous weight staff such as telling people they don’t know what functional training is, or sending kids to the hospital and blaming it on “that’s how out of shape we are”, or telling people the backsquat and lifting heavy is the only way.
You see, you can’t let Mat Drills become another thing like the Husker Power lifting scores, where your players winning in the weight room and offseason are the ones that don’t see the field on Saturdays. Don’t believe me? Damian Jackson won the HuskerPower index lifting. We were getting tweets about the definition in Nadab Josephs back, and while i’m all about building toughness, are we deciding the QB battle on who can rope pull better between Sims and Thompson? Just like anything, it can be your prescription if you use the right amount or it can be your poison if you overdo it. Right now, Rhule is giving doses of poison to find out who can tolerate what is going to be asked of them. No issues right now, we gotta weed out the kids who are just here for the free stuff and who want to play football.
Tomorrow we will go into in-state recruiting 2024, track recruiting for Rhule vs 2019 OL recruiting for Frost, and maybe one or two other things.
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You Strength and Conditioning paragraphs contradict the comment you like about what Corey Campbell. said “They’re here to be football players, not weightlifters, so I have to prepare them for the demands of the game.”
Ya, we will see. I love his comment, that’s was my biggest complaint about the previous staff. However, “mat drills” are hated by a lot of the S&C coaches because they think it doesn’t prepare you for being a good football player. Personally, I think there’s a happy medium.
I agree there’s a happy medium, I personally highly disagree the fact that they don’t at all help with being a better football player. From a S&C perspective, they might not help you make gains in your testing measurables, but that’s not the only important part. A lot of the argument I hear is that the results aren’t quantifiable/no evidence that they help or build mental toughness.
However, from first hand experience, I never played football at a high level in school, but I played basketball growing up. Over winter break, our coach was peeved at us because we were super passive in a loss, and were goofing off during film study. Over winter break, he basically made us do a week straight worth of what I would consider “basketball mat drills”. We had to box each other out, he would role a ball out, and last one to get to it had to run, things like that. It seemed stupid, but he just made us flat out compete and get after each other for a week straight, with very little lifting/basketball playing.
I will say we were a completely different team the second half of the season, we played in games we tougher because that’s how we practiced. Yes, the evidence is anecdotal, but you’re not going to convince me they didn’t have an effect. Now I’m not an expert in types of drills or how much is too much/little in football, but part of why I think Rhule has been successful is his practices are competitive and he makes guys compete.
Kind of crazy what happens when we started actually tackling in practice. Defense got unbelievably better just from playing football.
Youre dead on about the experience. I think the fact that our coordinators, as you said, are experienced probably keeps that problem at bay with the exception of the WR coach. If he was that age and had played the position since 8th grade, I would be concerned but feel much better. Most of the guys he will be coaching know more about playing WR than this young kid does. How is he going to improve these kids WR play? And how is he going to sit in a living room and convice kids they should come to NU because he can make them good WRs and take them to the league? I love Rhule but this was just a very poor hire
Yeah definitely not a wow hire. Maybe Rhule/Satterfield will be more of a face with WR recruits? I could see how it would be tough to answer questions if you were alone with a WR’s family, being how you don’t have a lot of experience at the position, so maybe some of the higher-ups will lend more to the vision of those recruits? It’ll be interesting to see how it shakes out.
I will say Corey Campbell sound very knowledgeable and very intelligent, also seems open minded.
I really like what Campbell is saying. He is focusing on flexibility, agility and movement along with the strength. We’ve been lacking that for awhile. So far I like what I see, but you are correct when you talk about having to see it on the field.
Right there with you. Gonna go over it a little tomorrow.