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Unorthodox “Bloody Sunday” Decision Benefits Nebraska Football in 20-7 Win Over Illinois

This is why Matt Rhule makes the big bucks. To make decisions that he believes will help his football team. It sure looks like a big one last week worked against illinois.

Nebraska v Illinois Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

I do have to admit that at least for me personally, the idea of having a long physical scrimmage the day immediately following a football game was an unorthodox decision by Matt Rhule. I do not think I’ve seen it before.

Some thought it was a bad idea. Some were intrigued.

It sure looked like it was right decision.

Most coaches might have had practice last Sunday with a sort of walk-through mentality after getting blown out by Michigan. Giving reps to the 2nd and 3rd teamers while the 1st team guys licked their wounds.

Not Matt Rhule.

Defensive Coordinator Tony White has said that their normal Tuesday practices were called “Bloody Tuesday” because they are so physically demanding.

After last Saturday’s game Matt Rhule decided to move Bloody Tuesday, not to Monday, but to Sunday.

It apparently worked. After the Illinois game Rhule referenced a conversation he had with defensive lineman Ty Robinson. He said Robinson said he is so jealous of the young guys who get to come up in this program that works as hard as they do.

Rhule continued, “Working hard is never a punishment. And grinding this week is never a punishment. I’m just happy they got some success this week so I can sit there and say ‘Hey, was Sunday worth it?’ Not I told you so. But I told you so.”

The “Bloody Sunday” decision is probably not something a football coach can go to after every loss. At some point the effect wears off. At some point injuries start showing up as the grind of a season continues.

Rhule may never decide to do that again, but as of this morning it sure seems like it was a great decision by the head coach.

Interesting Postgame Notes from the Athletic Department

  • Nebraska improved to 4-0 in Friday night road games since 2017. In addition to tonight’s win, Nebraska also won at Illinois in 2017, at Rutgers in 2020 and at Rutgers in 2022.
  • Nebraska held Illinois scoreless in the first quarter, marking the fourth time in six games the Huskers have blanked the opponent in the opening quarter. NU has shut out the opponent in the first quarter in all three road games.
  • Quarterback Heinrich Haarberg had a 25-yard TD run in the second quarter, marking his fifth run of at least 20 yards this season.
  • Haarberg accounted for 236 total yards in the game, including 82 rushing yards and 154 passing yards. Haarberg has accounted for better than 200 total yards in three of his first four starts.
  • Senior cornerback Quinton Newsome made his 30th consecutive start in tonight’s game. He had an interception (with a 39-yard return) in the fourth quarter to mark his first career interception.