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5 biggest questions for Nebraska Football heading into 2023



Nebraska football

Nebraska football starts fall camp on July 30th and looking ahead to the 2023 season, here are five questions the Huskers must answer.

It’s hard to believe that Nebraska football starts fall camp in just more than a week. Before we know it, the Huskers will be in Minnesota for the season opener.

Yet, for all the hype and all the talk since the hiring of Matt Rhule in November, Nebraska football will finally get to work. Rhule has the team set to stay in the dorms, taking an old-school approach to fall camp and it’s one that I love.

This program needed some toughness instilled. Nebraska football has to learn how to win again and with all that in mind, here are five questions Nebraska faces entering fall camp for the 2023 season.

Can Jeff Sims stay healthy?

I have no doubt that Jeff Sims will be successful this season when he’s on the field. But he’s never had a full season of starts under his belt in college and that will be a key question for the Huskers.

If Sims is able to start all 12 games, I’m very confident that Nebraska football will win at least six and be playing in a bowl game for the first time since Mike Riley was the head coach.

However, if there’s an injury and Henrich Haarberg or Chubba Purdy has to start, then the Huskers could be in some trouble. Purdy looked better in the spring. Haarberg also had some moments and showed enough to warrant some touches as a runner this season, but truth be told, there is no viable replacement for Sims.

Sims is a dual threat with an NFL-caliber arm. There’s a reason Rhule has talked so glowingly about his game and that’s why protecting him will be so important.

Can Teddy Prochazka and the O-line hold up?

We haven’t heard a lot about Teddy Prochazka this spring or summer. It sounds like he’s on track to start fall camp and should be healthy by the season opener against Minnesota.

But like with Sims, will Teddy stay healthy? The dude is 6-foot-10, 320 pounds and he’s had some really good moments but has also been injury prone.

It seems unlikely to me that he starts all 12 games. Just like with Sims, you kind of have to see it to believe it. In the past that has meant Turner Corcoran playing left tackle.

That’s a situation I’d like to see Nebraska football avoid if possible. Corcoran can be a solid guard, but he’s not a left tackle. Outside of Prochazka, there isn’t a true left tackle that’s probably ready to contribute right now although I wouldn’t count out Gunnar Gottula in a pinch but the health and production of Prochazka — it could be the difference between an above-average offensive line and a below-average one.

What will Nebraska football get from its tight ends?

The Huskers could have one of the most talented tight-end combinations in the country if Thomas Fidone is able to stay healthy and Arik Gilbert is ruled eligible.

I’m worried about Gilbert since things have been pretty silent on that front. The NCAA changed the rules for players to get a waiver to transfer a second time without penalty and it might not happen this season.

It’s also not a huge loss as long as Thomas Fidone delivers on his potential. He looks healthy but was limited in the spring. By the time the season opener rolls around, he needs to be 110 percent because this Nebraska football offense will be much better with him than without him.

The Huskers have some solid pass-catchers. Billy Kemp is going to be a stud. I also like Zavier Betts and Marcus Washington, not to mention Malachi Coleman.

But they call the tight end a quarterback’s best friend for a reason and I’m hoping Fidone and/or Gilbert can be that this season for Sims and the Huskers.

What about the pass rush?

One of the reasons I’m optimistic about the Huskers’ chances of getting back to a bowl game is the defense. Nebraska football returns most of its starters from last season and the 3-3-5 should help more than it hurts.

Big Ten teams will adjust and it’s not like they haven’t seen it before. I like that it’s more of a modern scheme and it’s flexible. Tony White should be able to put his best players in the best position to succeed.

I am concerned about the pass rush though. There really isn’t a proven pass rusher on the roster. Some younger guys could emerge like Cameron Lenhardt or Princewill Umanmielen but that’s also asking a lot of freshmen.

MJ Sherman, Chief Borders, Jimari Butler, and Blaise Gunnerson will all need to be active contributors when it comes to pressuring the quarterback — otherwise, this season will be a struggle.

The run defense should be fine with Ty Robinson and Nash Hutmacher returning. Hutmacher is 6-foot-4, 330 pounds, and seemed to really improve this spring after a solid 2022 season. Elijah Jeudy should have a role too.

Nebraska’s question mark has to do with pressuring the quarterback and that’s one that won’t be answered until the live bullets start flying.

Can the Huskers start fast under Matt Rhule?

Matt Rhule has never had a winning season as a first-year head coach. Things have been ugly to start and to be fair, that’s because Rhule has always taken on rebuilding jobs.

Nebraska football is a rebuild too. The Huskers still have a lot of built-in advantages, but the program needed a reboot and he knows that.

However, there are also a lot more pieces in place than when Rhule took over at Temple or Baylor. The transfer portal is also a thing now. Nebraska football added some key pieces from the portal including Sims, Ben Scott, Borders, Gilbert, Sherman, Jeudy, Kemp, and more.

This Nebraska football team has flaws. But there is also a lot of talent, especially with the incoming recruiting class which looks like one of the best in years.

At the same time, Nebraska football fans are tired of waiting on potential. They want results and my hope is that Rhule can deliver a lot quicker than at Temple, Baylor, or Carolina.

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Nebraska Football could utilize two QBs vs. Michigan



Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska football head coach Matt Rhule gave an update in his press conference on Thursday with regards to the quarterback position. Rhule indicated that Jeff Sims is not 100%, but he has practiced all throughout the week. Heinrich Haarberg, who was also battling injuries following the last weekend’s game, practiced this week as well.

This is certainly encouraging as it relates to the health of the quarterbacks. For one, Sims is apparently progressing. It also means that Haarberg is at a point where he is not too bothered by his injury. This is reassuring, given that he has been a key part of the offense of the last couple weeks.

Nebraska football as a team is going to need both to be healthy on Saturday. Haarberg is the presumed starter, but it would be nice to add Sims in for his running ability in certain situations.

I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to the program using both quarterbacks. As a matter of fact, I think it’s a very smart play. It gives Nebraska football versatility at the position, and allows two explosive athletes to get their shot on the field.

Nebraska football will need to have all hands-on deck against a rushing defense that is second in the conference with 80.5 yards allowed per game. They also have allowed only one rushing touchdown on the season. They rank second behind Nebraska with 2.8 yards allowed per carry. The bottom line is, Nebraska football is going to have their work cut out for them.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the quarterback situation on Saturday. Will we see both quarterbacks? Time will tell, but at least the room itself is restocked and somewhat healthy again. The Huskers have depth at the quarterback position and that is never a bad thing. How they utilize it will be interesting, as they look to get above. 500.

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3 keys to an upset win for Nebraska football vs. Michigan



Nebraska football
Dylan Widger-US

Is an upset possible for Nebraska football on Saturday? Here are three keys to pulling it off.

After a pair of confidence-building wins, Nebraska football will welcome No. 2 Michigan to Lincoln Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

It’s going to be a huge test. It’s also a major opportunity for Matt Rhule and company to score a defining win. I can’t even remember the last time Nebraska beat a team as good as Michigan. Probably since Eric Crouch caught that touchdown pass to beat Oklahoma.

Nebraska football has its work cut out for it. The Huskers are 17-point underdogs and this Michigan team is a juggernaut that’s won 16 consecutive Big Ten games.

J.J. McCarthy (QB) and Blake Corum, the running back, are Heisman candidates. Plus, the defense has only surrendered 23 points in four games leading all of college football in scoring defense.

It’s going to be a huge challenge but Nebraska isn’t a pushover. It’s the toughest game for Michigan so far and the Wolverines’ first road game.

If Nebraska wants to pull the upset, here are three keys to making it happen.

Contain Michigan’s run game

You might think that’s not possible, but in three of four games this season, Michigan has rushed for 200 yards or less. One reason for that is more throwing with McCarthy. The pass offense is better and games are also going quicker especially if you use a pace like Michigan or Nebraska.

Blake Corum is the bell cow but Donovan Edwards is dangerous. He had over 200 yards in the win against Ohio State last November.

Michigan’s offensive line has used a few different combinations and hasn’t been quite as good. Nebraska football also leads the Big Ten in rushing yards allowed. The Blackshirts surrender just 1.8 yards per rush and if they can limit Michigan’s ground game (150 yards or less), an upset becomes much more likely.

Nebraska football must win the turnover battle

You could list this as a key for just about every single game in college football this week. But Nebraska is at a disadvantage talent-wise compared to Michigan.

That’s nothing to be ashamed of. The Wolverines have about 20 players that could get drafted this April. Nebraska is a team with talent too — it actually ranks 26th in terms of blue-chip players (4-star recruits or higher) being on the roster.

But the Huskers are going to need some short fields or maybe even some points from the defense to pull this one off. A big return, some kind of play like that will need to happen.

McCarthy didn’t throw an interception in three of the four games for Michigan. Yet, against Bowling Green, he tossed three and if the Huskers could get 1-2, you’d have to like their chances of pulling the upset.

Heinrich Haarberg needs 100 yards rushing

Michigan hasn’t allowed a single team to run for 100 yards. Their run defense is spectacular but Haarberg will need to break a big run or two if the Huskers are going to have a shot.

That touchdown run against Louisiana Tech reminded me a little of T-Magic. Haarberg also has been fine throwing the ball. His arm isn’t elite. He also hasn’t thrown any interceptions.

Nebraska has been using more option principles and running QBs have given Michigan some struggles over the years. Haarberg isn’t a statue. He’s also a gamer and after two starts, he’s improving.

We’ll see if he can deliver on Saturday, but if Haarberg can run the way he did in his first two starts (a very big ask) Nebraska should have a shot to win on Saturday.

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Nebraska Football flips local TE Eric Ingwerson after long pursuit



Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska football landed a commitment from 2024 tight end Eric Ingwerson on Wednesday, according to multiple media reports.

Ingwerson is the 128th overall athlete in the 2024 class, and the ninth overall player in the class from the state of Nebraska per the 247Sports composite rankings. He has a numerical rating of 86 overall.

This is a solid commitment for several reasons. For one, Nebraska football has been interested in him for quite a while. He received an offer from the program on April 11, and had him and for an official visit on June 16.

Ingwerson joins a tight end room that is already in good hands for 2024. Carter Nelson headlines the room, with Ian Flynt also part of the room as well.

It is also worth noting that Ingwerson played on the defensive side of football as a defensive lineman for Papillion-LaVista. He could definitely play the position for Nebraska, as he measures in at six-foot-seven, 235 pounds. There is the chance that he could play a different position other than tight end. However, his size makes him an intriguing option at the position itself.

There can also be the possibility that Nebraska football could be looking at him as an offensive lineman. The size is there. This staff knows how to develop offensive lineman. Ingwerson could fit well in the positional group.

Currently, the 2024 Nebraska football recruiting class ranks 23rd overall in the country per the 247Sports rankings. This class has a solid high school group, and Ingwerson certainly adds to that. The 2024 class has the potential to be a cornerstone class of Matt Rhule’s tenure.

Ingwerson will be an asset to Nebraska football, no matter what position he plays. Furthermore, this is a great flip by the program. Once again, they have shown the ability to identify a prospect they want, and pursue him until they land him. The staff has done a good job of being able to flip recruits. Ingwerson is certainly a part of that distinction.

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