Looking ahead to the 2023 Nebraska football season, here are five bold predictions for the Huskers.
We are less than 100 days away from the Nebraska football season and the excitement from Husker fans is palpable.
It’s hard to know what to expect under Matt Rhule, but there is little doubt that Nebraska will be better next season. The Huskers should be more physical and fundamentally sound.
The Huskers won four games a year ago. Will they get back to a bowl game? That’s one of the biggest questions facing this team and we’ll answer it and more with five bold predictions for the 2023 Nebraska football season.
Jeff Sims plays so well he’s one and done
Nebraska fans have been ecstatic about the commitment of 2024 quarterback Daniel Kaelin, at least most of them, and there’s an idea that he could take over in 2025 after two years of Jeff Sims.
The only problem with that is it assumes Sims will be back for the 2024 season. He very well could be. But there’s a reason he keeps getting mentioned as a Heisman dark horse — he’s extremely talented and if he can stay healthy, he will have a true breakout season for Nebraska football.
Sims impressed me during the spring game with his legs. Yet, his arm was even better than I expected. He bought time and extended plays but delivered the ball with accuracy.
To be blunt, Sims might be the first real weapon the Huskers have had at quarterback since Taylor Martinez played quarterback. Except Sims has all the NFL skills you need and if he can stay healthy, be accurate, and protect the ball, he’s got an NFL future, maybe sooner than fans might want.
The Huskers are going bowling
I’ve said for a while now that I think Matt Rhule is going to be a revelation. He can be Nebraska’s Jim Harbaugh — a guy who can take the existing talent and get the most out of it.
For years, the Huskers were the best-looking team in the Big Ten West, getting off the bus. They just didn’t play like it often. It was look like Tarzan, play like Jane type of thing.
But that’s not going to be the case anymore. This program went through a tough spring and the players are responding. You can tell they are bought in and my bet is that Nebraska wins at least six games.
I actually believe they’ll have a winning season, winning at least seven of their 12 regular-season games.
Thomas Fidone has an All-Big Ten season
It’s hard to predict the exact numbers for any player, let alone Fidone, who has missed the first two seasons of his Nebraska football career due to injury.
But the former top 50 overall recruit is healthy and looks damn good. There was a video on Twitter making the rounds of Fidone catching passes from Kaelin in a private workout and Fidone looks fit.
Rarely, do you see the combination of size, speed, and hands that the Huskers have in Fidone. The four-star recruit was talking about being a first or second-round draft pick and this season, he’ll take a big step in that direction.
Not only do I think Fidone will play a bunch this season, but he’s also going to play well. He’s got as much raw ability as any tight end in the Big Ten and by season’s end, the production will finally start matching the talent.
Just for the fun of it, I’m going to say Fidone has at least 500 receiving yards and five touchdown receptions.
Malcolm Hartzog picks off five passes
Making a bold prediction isn’t always easy but when it comes to Malcolm Hartzog, intercepting five passes doesn’t even seem like a huge stretch.
Last season, the freshman was dynamic at cornerback. He played in all 12 games and picked off three passes in eight starts. He also returned a blocked punt for a touchdown.
Under new DC Tony White, it’s going to be interesting to see how the Huskers use Hartzog. There has been talk of him being a nickel or safety type in the 3-3-5 alignment. Either way, Hartzog is one of those guys that just finds the ball.
That’s not going to change. In fact, with White running the show, my guess is that he’ll find more creative ways to use his best players and Hartzog will be a DUDE in 2023.
Take that to the bank.
Nebraska football offensive line will deliver
Football isn’t a complicated game. You have to be able to block, tackle and out-physical your opponent. As much as the game has changed, the play in the trenches decides most games, especially in the Big Ten.
That’s why one of the big objectives this season for Nebraska football is offensive line improvement. Bryce Benhart looked like a different player in the spring to me. He seemed to be in better shape and his movement was noticeably better as a pass blocker and getting to the second level.
The addition of Ben Scott is going to be huge. Sims is the transfer fans know the most, but Scott will be right there in terms of impact.
When you talk about Teddy Prochazka returning from injury to start at left tackle or Nouredin Nouili returning from suspension to start at guard, Nebraska is essentially getting three new starters.
And if the coaching staff can get the most out of Benhart and Turner Corcoran, two former blue-chip talents, this offensive line could be respectable. Hell, it might even be good.
It will be improved from last season, that’s a guarantee and honestly, it couldn’t get any worse.
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