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5 thoughts on Dylan Raiola and Nebraska football spring game

Nebraska football held its annual spring game on Saturday and here are five thoughts on the Huskers and Dylan Raiola.



Nebraska football
Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

It’s going to be really hard to put down the Kool-Aid for Nebraska football fans after that spring game.

The biggest question going into the game was the quarterback position. How would Dylan Raiola and others handle the pressure and the spotlight?

Just fine as it turns out, as I expected. Dylan Raiola is different and not just because of his talent. The kid was as cool as the other side of the pillow on Saturday. He knew all of Husker Nation was watching and delivered, throwing for 239 yards and two touchdowns (mostly in the first half).

Raiola completed 13 passes to different receivers. He makes it look so easy but he was far from the only positive thing for Nebraska fooball. All three quarterbacks played well. The defense had its moments and the running game did too.

Here are five thoughts looking back on the spring game.

Nebraska football has its starting quarterback

I don’t expect Matt Rhule to name a starting quarterback anytime soon. It will probably happen at some point during fall camp. But we all know who the starting quarterback is.

Dylan Raiola was head and shoulders above the other quarterbacks and that’s saying something — they were good too. Heinrich Haarberg has improved immensely. Daniel Kaelin also has a bright future.

I wouldn’t be shocked if teams were calling him today and trying to get him to enter the transfer portal. Rhule said many others have been tampered with, including Thomas Fidone.

It’s a sign of the times but also shows this Nebraska football program has talent. You could see it all over the field but it really stood out with Raiola. This isn’t a kid who’s going to turn the ball over much.

I know he had one interception on Saturday. But it bounced off the hands of a receiver. Other than that, not a single ball was in jeopardy. The way he was making checks and operating at the line of scrimmage was impressive.

Frankly, I was blown away and I can’t understand how in the world anyone could rank any other 2024 quarterback ahead of Raiola. He’s the truth or HIM or whatever you want to call it.

Get ready Nebraska football fans, we might actually, finally, be back.

Tangible QB depth

One more thing on the quarterbacks. Last season, the Huskers had three different players start games and none was an effective starter.

Haarberg still won five games, but I’d have a lot more confidence if he was the starter this season than last year. That shows the impact of Glenn Thomas, the quarterbacks coach. Nebraska football didn’t have a true quarterbacks coach last season and it showed.

So not only did Matt Rhule upgrade the talent in the quarterback room, he upgraded the coaching and now, it looks like the Huskers have three solid options. Two of those options are true freshman and the Huskers finally have the kind of quarterback depth that most teams in the Big Ten would envy.

Outside of maybe Ohio State and Oregon, I think just about any team in the conference would gladly trade places with Nebraska. Raiola is that good, but the depth is too.

Newcomers flashed in a big way

Dylan Raiola stole the show but wasn’t the only newcomer to flash for Nebraska football on Saturday. Jacory Barney was an absolute stud. He caught a 41-yard touchdown pass from Haarberg on a go route. The true freshman from Florida also returned a kickoff 78 yards and might have scored if he realized that Tristan Alvano wasn’t on his team (he got confused).

Dante Dowdell was another dude who impressed me. Emmett Johnson ran the ball well. But Dowdwell had another gear. He’s a one-cut runner and showed that skill, ripping off a 49-yard touchdown run — his second of the day. The former top-10 recruit at the position in the 2023 class, showed why he was so highly regarded coming out of high school.

Dowdell and Johnson are going to be 1A and 1B in my opinion at running back. Maybe Nebraska can land Dylan Edwards, but even if they don’t, they have enough in the running back room with Rahir Johnson and Gabe Irvin returning to the lineup.

Vincent Shavers also made an impact. Rex Guthrie had a pass breakup and Dae’Vonn Hall also flashed. It’s very early still the 2024 class looks like one that will have a huge impact on Nebraska football.

Injuries put a damper on things

Staying healthy is always a goal for any spring game. The last thing you want is for any players to get hurt but the injury bug struck on Saturday for Nebraska football.

Blye Hill, a transfer cornerback, who Matt Rhule said would be a starter right now, was carted off the field with what Rhule called a “significant” injury.

That sounds like something that could cause him to miss the season. Hopefully, it’s not that serious. Demritius Bell also suffered what Rhule deemed a “semi-significant” injury and it feels like that could impact his season too.

We’ll have to wait and see of course. But if there was a negative from the spring game, those injuries were it.

Nebraska football is poised to do big things

As coach Rhule has said, Nebraska is 5-7 until it proves otherwise. Every year, we think the bowl streak is going to end and the Huskers are finally going to be “back.”

This time does feel different though. Nebraska football has maybe the most talented quarterback it has ever had. The Huskers have surrounded him with some talented pass catchers and the pass offense looks explosive.

Nebraska has had success throwing the ball, but the offense never looked like it did Saturday. I know it was the spring game and we need to take it with a grain of salt. Hell, Jeff Sims was a star in the 2023 spring game.

However, the talent and speed of this roster aren’t comparable to when Rhule took over. The transformation has been dramatic and his team is ready for their typical year two jump.

Now, they just need to prove it on the field this fall.

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Chris has worked in sports journalism since 2005 writing for multiple newspapers and websites such as the Bleacher Report and Fansided before starting Husker Big Red, A fan site for hardcore followers of the #Huskers offering articles, podcasts, videos and more exclusive content on all things Nebraska