LINCOLN–(NU Athletics Apr. 16)–Nebraska football head coach Matt Rhule met with members of the media following the team’s spring practice on Tuesday.

He spoke to how the team handled the scrimmage on Saturday, particularly the quarterback room.

“I thought they were really good. It’s a really hard defense to go against. I thought we protected the ball well, which is the first thing. We’re on a mission to be in the positive territory in turnover margins. I think there was only one turnover on the day, through a lot of reps. I thought they handled all the pressures, I thought they adjusted to the different things. The biggest thing is just getting into the stadium for the first time. I put crowd noise on, so you can’t have coaches out there like ‘no, cut your split!’. Coaches are the worst, they always want to tell guys what to do. So I put crowd noise on so they couldn’t hear from the sideline. We just wanted to test the guys and see what they knew. There’s a lot of things to work on, but a lot of positive things. I think we’ve made a lot of strides in a short amount of time.”

He talked about the transfer portal opening today and how he balances spring practice with the portal.

“I think, if anybody on our team wants to go into the portal, it’s open today. That’s their right. Obviously, no one has yet. I don’t anticipate anybody going in. When we get done with spring, a couple guys will have a couple days to see if something is best for them. Our guys are really transparent. We’ve had players on our team already have people from other teams contact them. They’ll come in, walk in and say ‘coach, look at this’ and show us the text message. It’s a sad state of college football, but the problem isn’t the players. Let me start there, the problem isn’t the players. I love our guys. I want everyone to be here. But I also want them – we had guys transfer to other places last year – I’ve talked to their coaches, talked to them, and asked how they’re doing. Once you’ve played for me, you’ve played for me for life. Maybe it’s a unique challenge in terms of some guys, but we’re pretty transparent with our guys. If they want to come talk to us, we’re here to talk to them. I ask coaches after scrimmages to meet with guys one on one, I’m always available. I just don’t think it’s prudent – maybe this is pollyannaish – I don’t think it’s prudent for me to coach guys while thinking about the portal. The worst thing you can ever do for a young person is not have high standards for them and not push them to greatness. If you’re afraid of pushing them because they might go to the portal, then you probably don’t have the right guy anyway. Things will happen, good, bad, but we’re just going to coach the guys and try to get the team better and pour everything we have into our players, both on the field and off the field, and personally. If something happens, it happens.”

Rhule discussed the physicality level during spring practice.

“I don’t think about it. We practice. We’re not going to have a tag-off scrimmage. There’s a lot of days where we thud, we don’t tackle to the ground. Our tackling to the ground reps are at a minimum, but we’re 5-7. We’re 5-7 until we change that. We have an amazing fanbase and a lot of positive stuff around us all the time, excited for the new year. We’re 5-7 until we’re not. If we were 11-1, I’d be like ‘hey, we lost a game,’ and if we were 12-0, I’d say ‘that doesn’t count.’ We are always going to practice physically. How do you master your craft in this game if you don’t do it? A lot of people win in a lot of different ways. I’m not in any way talking about anyone else. I’m just talking about for us – I want to take great young people, I want to watch them get a degree, maybe two degrees, have a great experience here, but I also want to develop pro players. And to me, lifting is great and running is great and teaching them the game is great, but they’ve got to practice and play. So we are really physical. We put the guardian caps on this year, which I’m really excited about, but we’re going to get guys banged up. Guys are going to get hurt. What I do believe – and I believe this with all my heart – if guys learn to play full speed, the injuries get reduced. We try to do everything we can – we put grass in – everything we can to minimize the injuries. We have some soft tissue stuff, we have some guys that got hurt from the season, but we’ve had nothing happen this year other than Leslie (Black) – and he’ll be back – that would affect the fall. Our job is to make sure we have a good team. We’re 5-7. We have to practice.”

The Huskers will continue with spring practice on Thursday. The annual Red-White Spring game presented by FNBO is scheduled for Saturday, April 27 at 11 a.m.

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