Rhule wants a winning mindset as the Huskers try to rebound against Illinois Friday night

2-3 Nebraska and 2-3 Illinois to meet Friday night under the lights in Urbana-Champaign, IL.
Published: Oct. 2, 2023 at 10:45 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - 48 hours after the Huskers lost 45-7 to second-ranked Michigan, head coach Matt Rhule was as passionate as ever as he addressed media ahead of a Friday night match-up with Illinois (2-3). After Saturday’s 38-point loss, Rhule is focusing on getting his players away from overthinking and away from playing afraid to make a mistake.

“All I want our guys to do is play football with confidence,” said Rhule in his weekly Monday press conference. “I don’t want them to play football ‘afraid to lose.’ Play football with confidence. That’s my job and I haven’t gotten it done yet. So I’m anxious to play on Friday.”

Sunday night, Rhule held an impromptu practice with full pads during which the Huskers competed and just had fun playing ball. Rhule saw “winning football” during the practice.

“It doesn’t matter what the call is. It doesn’t matter if we’re down 14-0. We gotta play. That’s the winning mindset,” said Rhule. “The guys have to not listen to everything that’s out there. There’s no ‘you should be doings,’ at least in this building. Go play. It’s a football game.”

Hesitancy hurt the Huskers Saturday, especially on defense resulting in missed assignments and allowing 436 total offensive yards. This week, Rhule wants to see his team attack more on the field.

“I want to be the type of team where we’re playing at a high level and then we get down 14-0 and we’re like ‘oh heck no. I’m not losing 45-7 in front of my mom.’ I’m gonna play better,” said Rhule.

A condensed game-week schedule is not changing Rhule’s approach to his process leading up to Friday’s conference battle of 2-and-3 teams.

“Process to me is never the schedule. It’s not doing practice on Sundays or Mondays. The process is that we have a standard performance and a mindset that we attack everything we go 1-0 every single day, we try to get one percent better and when we don’t we take responsibility for it,” said Rhule. “We attack like lions with everything we do and so, the only crime against the team ever is to accept losing.”

Rhule thanked Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh for letting the Huskers play out the game

The Huskers will play the Fighting Illini short a few key Blackshirts. Safety Deshon Singleton is out for an extended period of time with a knee injury he suffered during the Michigan game. Fifth-year senior linebacker Luke Reimer is out of the hospital, however will not be available for Friday’s game.

Nebraska kicks off in Urbana-Champaign, IL at 7 p.m. CT on Friday.