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The Student News Site of Gretna East High School

The Wingspan

The Student News Site of Gretna East High School

The Wingspan

Nebraska is back…?

Matt Rhule may eventually lead Cornhuskers back to glory
At+the+home+game+on+Oct.+1%2C+the+game+against+Michigan+coses+out+in+a+light+show.
Brody Heidemann
At the home game on Oct. 1, the game against Michigan coses out in a light show.

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What do you think? Will Matt Rhule restore a winning tradition to Husker football?

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Growing up in Nebraska, there are many staple traditions, but one sticks out: Nebraska football. The Nebraska Cornhuskers have not been stellar in the past decade, yet the state rallies behind them as “their team” and continues to have faith, always looking to the team for greatness. Now, behind a new staff and revamped team, a glimmer of hope is present as the final stretch of the season begins. 

Since 2016, Nebraska has yet to make a bowl game due to three changes in the head coach and assistant coaches room and other components such as recruiting that come with them. No team deserves to go through this much change, especially one with such a strong history of winning like the Huskers. New head coach Matt Rhule has picked up the reins of a program whose culture has been vastly different from the glory days of the 1990s. The fans deserve the pride and joy that comes with supporting a winning program, and now under coach Rhule’s leadership, the fans can look to the future.  

In the offseason, coach Rhule quickly turned around a recruitment class, gained transfers and established leaders to help command the team. Additionally, there is hope in the team’s skills and on the back of an experienced coach, a rebuild is sprouting under head coach Rhule. With him at the helm, the new foundation for Nebraska football is strong as they begin the process of rebuilding.

Although the team had a rough start, reminiscent of last season, losing to Colorado, Minnesota and Michigan, they bounced back with wins over Louisiana Tech, Northern Illinois and Illinois. The team has also overcome the loss of running backs Gabe Ervin Jr. and Rahmir Johnson and wide receivers Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda and Marcus Washington, to injuries that will sideline them for the season. Even without these players, hope is still remnant with other key players stepping up into bigger roles.  

Looking at the rest of the season, the good news is that the Cornhuskers do have a winnable schedule. Today, they take on Northwestern, who has a 3-3 record and is coming off a win against Howard. Nebraska is a strong team at the line and will likely get an easy win over the Wildcats if they follow a similar game plan to the Illinois game.  The line of scrimmage is a key to the game that Rhule looks to win. He made it a point all off-season that the line was something Nebraska needed to take back. 

So far this season, Nebraska is third in the nation in rushing defense, only allowing an average of 75.8 rushing yards a game. The Huskers have proved they can win the line of scrimmage, but winning  also depends on the offense, which has proved it needs help after low-scoring games against Illinois and Louisiana Tech. 

On offense, beyond having a good show against Northern Illinois, they are only putting up minimal numbers. The offense needs to find its rhythm. In the red zone Nebraska ranks 128th in the nation. Taking 18 trips to the red zone, they have only put points on the board 12 times. This number is atrocious; putting up points when it matters most, like when they’re in the red zone, is an answer. Even though this number might stick out as a weak spot, the team has the ability to fix this if coaches continue to divvy up the play calling. Additionally, the offense has looked better than some that former head coach Scott Frost led, as Ruhle’s guys are actually able to run the ball. So, even though the offense has its flaws, the future is still bright..

The final stretch for the Cornhuskers may seem daunting with teams such as Wisconsin and Iowa, however, a path to winning the Big Ten West is there. Nebraska will play two straight home games, today and then on Nov. 4 against Purdue. They then travel to East Lansing, Michigan, to take on Michigan State, who recently parted ways with their coach. To end the season, Nebraska will play three top teams in the Big Ten: Maryland, Wisconsin and Iowa. These final games will set a precedent for what the season was for and what to look forward to next year. 

So, will the Cornhuskers close out the season in grand fashion, or will it be another letdown in the end? If Nebraska can close out these games, signs all point to the positive. While it’s still undecided if Nebraska will end the season on a high note, everyone should be excited for what Matt Rhule brings to the table and the future that is to come.

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About the Contributor
Brody Heidemann, Sports Editor
Brody Heidemann is a junior at Gretna East and this will be his second year on an online journalism staff. He was on the Gretna Media staff at Gretna High last year. This year he is the GEHS Wingspan's Sports Editor. As a sophomore, Brody won third place in Yearbook Sports Feature Writing and also fifth in Sports News Writing at the NSAA High School State Journalism championships for Class-A. Brody enjoys participating in journalism because he is interested in learning about other people and likes being social. His goal for this year is to stay productive and keep stories coming out. Outside of school, he enjoys playing video games, working at Hy-vee and hanging out with friends. 
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