Matt Rhule leaves strong early impression on Nebraska QB Casey Thompson

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Sam McKewon, with the Omaha World-Herald, speaks after the press conference introducing Matt Rhule as Nebraska’s new football head coach at the Hawks Championship Center in Lincoln on Monday, November 28, 2022.



LINCOLN — Casey Thompson lingered on the second-floor balcony of the Hawks Center and watched as Matt Rhule concluded his final round of interviews on the turf below.

The Nebraska quarterback did not watch the main press conference in person Monday afternoon, but streamed it on BTN while watching a game movie at North Stadium. He studied the game in Iowa and the college quarterbacks he usually controls, such as Caleb Williams (USC), Bryce Young (Alabama), and CJ Stroud (Ohio State).

Thompson also picked up South Carolina’s last three games to see what Nebraska’s new offensive coordinator – Marcus Satterfield, who joined Rhule on Sunday – likes to do.

“Various violations,” Thompson told The World-Herald. “Really good at the drop-back passing game, play action. Good at RPOs, very creative at the run game, lots of moves.

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Rhule is just getting acquainted with the current Huskers, meeting them in person for the first time Monday morning. He and Thompson spoke at length on Saturday, the QB said, and separately again on Monday.

Thompson still has a year left in eligibility as he considers whether to stay in Nebraska or leave for another school or the professional level – “Today is November 28 and classes begin in January; I still have some time,” he said.

He will meet new coaches while also rehabilitating and recovering from a partially torn labrum on his shoulder that he played since the third game of the season against Georgia Southern. That injury remained hidden throughout the season, he said, requiring him to play through pain and somewhat limited range of motion. It also affected his ability to throw a consistent spiral and reduce his deep ball reach from 60-70 yards to 50.

“I wanted to play it for the team, for Mickey Joseph, to win the game and because I love football,” said Thompson. “Also I knew – I just played my cards right – I knew that if a new coach came in I wanted him to be able to see me have a body of work in the 2022 season.

“I have two full seasons of film – I am doing well now. I have some stability.”

The results were quite good. Thompson completed 63% of his passes for 2,407 yards with 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He was clearly NU’s best option in that position all season.

The quarterback doesn’t know any of the coaches personally, but has some second-hand connections to Rhule, who recruited the player a bit from high school. They faced each other twice when Rhule was at Baylor and Thompson was at Texas. The Longhorns won 23-17 in 2018 before Baylor won the 2019 encounter 24-10.

Thompson said, “I just remember he had really good defense, really good offensive linemen.”

Thompson has already heard from PJ Walker, who broke most of Temple’s offensive records while with Rhule from 2013-16 and is currently on the roster with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. The Husker QB also talked about Rhule with former Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer — who shone under Rhule at Waco — through mutual connections.

“Everyone I’ve spoken to so far has said he’s very thorough, has an eye for detail, loves football and is a go-getter,” Thompson said of the coach. “Sounds like me.”

Rhule said he has already met some of the current players one-on-one, and declined to go into details about Thompson. They are still getting to know each other.

“You start by listening,” Rhule said. “I’m going to say to everyone, ‘Hey, this is how we’re going to do things.’ “I’m going to share a vision with everyone. If it’s for you, great. If it’s not for you, I understand. I want every student-athlete in our program to be happy.”

Thompson said he will also look into what happens with former NU interim coach Mickey Joseph and other future personnel decisions. Players and coaches need to trust each other, and this was a first date.

But first impressions of Rhule? Those were nothing but positive, as the coach tries to create a culture of competition and hard work that Thompson can definitely relate to.

“(Rhule) has a plan,” Thompson said. “He knows how to take over a program and win games. But it starts with relationships, development and recruitment. We just take it step by step now.”

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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