Nebraska quarterback Chubba Purdy admits he woke up Sunday feeling a little sore.
To be fair, that soreness came from the physical effort that marked the most football Purdy had played in over a year. In the midst of a journey of self-improvement, overcoming injuries and fighting for his place in the attack, just being on the field means Purdy’s hard work has paid off.
“More than anything, I’ve had fun with the guys because we’ve put in so much work this year and we’ve been through so much as a team,” Purdy said Tuesday. “I was very fortunate to go out there with those guys and just play football.”
It was the first time Nebraska offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield had seen a full game’s worth of action from Purdy. The quarterback was injured when the new coaching staff arrived in Lincoln, recovering from an ankle injury that required offseason surgery.
The coaches didn’t get to see much of Purdy in the spring while he was recovering. Head coach Matt Rhule challenged the second-year quarterback during that stretch, and Purdy said he was motivated to make big strides in the offseason and work on his confidence.
While that attitude never wavered, physical limitations prevented Purdy from climbing the depth chart. A nagging groin injury limited Purdy’s practice reps all fall, but he stayed fit regardless as he waited for his opportunity.
“They just (told me) ‘If we really need you, you’re going to have to come in and play,'” Purdy said. “It’s been like that all year.”
That opportunity came against Maryland, but only in the form of one play in the fourth quarter. Making his third start as a Husker and first of the season at Wisconsin, Purdy was quick and decisive with his throws in the passing game — something Satterfield liked to see.
“I thought he threw the ball really well and he threw it on time,” Satterfield said. “The comforting thing I had up in the box was that when the play was called I could almost tell where the ball was going and it was going there. He was invited and knew where to be.”
Purdy also avoided taking unnecessary risks with his throws, something NU coaches stressed all week leading up to the game. While the final stat will show Purdy’s interception on the final play of the game, Satterfield said Purdy did exactly what he needed to do in that situation by giving his receiver a chance.
The fourth-year guard’s “amazing week of preparation” leading up to the Wisconsin game continued this week, Satterfield said, noting that he constantly sees the quarterback in meeting rooms around the Nebraska facility.
Now that the coaches got a chance to see what Purdy could do in a full game, they liked what they saw — and they hope Purdy can provide a similar spark against Iowa on Friday.
“I don’t want to say I’m surprised (by Purdy’s performance) because I’ve watched tape of him over the years and I knew he had it in him,” Satterfield said. “It was good to see him do that.”