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Nebraska Football: Projecting offensive depth chart before spring



Nebraska football
Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska football will start spring practices on March 20 and here’s our projected depth chart for the Huskers.

The Huskers have just wrapped up their winter conditioning under new head coach Matt Rhule and in less than 10 days, Nebraska football will begin spring practices.

It’s going to be an interesting time for Nebraska football fans. Rhule will be coaching the Huskers on the football field for the first time and I for one can’t wait for the spring game in April.

We should learn a lot about the Huskers this spring. Yet, it seems like the players already have an idea of where they stand. Rhule said in his press conference recently that the depth charts are posted. He talked about players with decisions to make because the roster is way over the 85 limit and spring will be a determining factor for some.

There are 39 new scholarship players joining Nebraska football next season but not all of them will be taking part in a spring ball. However, there will be a bunch of new faces, and here is our depth chart projection for the Huskers heading into spring practices.

QB1: Casey Thompson; QB2: Jeff Sims

This is going to be the position battle everyone will be watching. Sims is the former Georgia Tech quarterback and of course, he seems like a better fit for Rhule’s system because he’s a dual threat.

However, Rhule’s Baylor teams didn’t always necessarily have a running quarterback. Casey Thompson can run when needed — it just wasn’t an emphasis last season. Keeping him healthy is important and in my opinion, when it comes to throwing the ball — it isn’t that close.

Thompson has an elite deep ball and is a much more accurate passer. Sims only completed 58 percent of his passes last season and for his career, he’s a 57.5 career passer with 30 touchdowns and 23 interceptions.

Casey has never completed fewer than 63 percent of his passes. He’s also got 47 touchdown passes, (41 over the past two seasons) compared to 19 interceptions.

Both quarterbacks need to be better at taking care of the ball. And in my opinion, Thompson is that guy right now. I think both will start games because I don’t know that Thompson can make it through an entire season, but come Game 1 my bet is that Rhule feels Casey Thompson gives him the best chance to win.

RB1: Anthony Grant; RB2: Ajay Allen and Rahmir Johnson

With an improved offensive line, Anthony Grant should rush for over 1,000 yards in 2023. Grant was one of the better Big Ten running backs last season, even with a line that struggled to open holes consistently.

Mark Whipple also refused to commit to the run. It was mind-boggling how Grant would be ignored, even when he was productive. Add Ajay Allen back to the mix and the Huskers will have a dynamic 1-2 punch.

One forgotten man last season was Rahmir Johnson. He got limited opportunities, in what was a curious move. He also had some poor moments, such as a key dropped pass against Illinois. However, he’s talented and I feel like as a pass-catcher and a runner, he’ll make a positive impact next season.

WR1s: Marcus Washington, Billy Kemp, Zavier Betts; WR2s: Josh Fleeks, Malachi Coleman, Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda

Malachi Coleman didn’t enroll early but he seems like a guy that can make an impact right away as a freshman. Marcus Washington also seems poised to take over the No. 1 after a productive first season with Nebraska football.

Washington isn’t quite Trey Palmer, but he’s a legit deep threat. Billy Kemp is a guy I’m really excited about and I wouldn’t be shocked if he led the Huskers in receptions this season.

Zavier Betts might be a surprise to some as a No. 1 but the talent has never been in question and by all accounts, Betts has looked great in conditioning. I expect that to carry over to the spring and also to the 2023 season.

TE1: Thomas Fidone; TE2: Arik Gilbert

Nebraska football has gotten solid production from the tight end spot over the years and that should continue in 2023. Thomas Fidone was formerly the No. 2 overall tight end in his recruiting class and Arik Gilbert is a former five-star prospect.

The talent at the tight-end position is spectacular. Fidone sounded good to go when he met with the media recently and said he believes he will be a first or second-round pick when his playing days in Lincoln are over.

That’s great to hear and having him healthy could be game-changing for Nebraska football in 2023. It’s hard to know what you’re going to get with Gilbert, but he has also impressed so far in his time on campus and even with the loss of Travis Vokolek, Nebraska should be better at tight end next season.

O-Line (Left to right): Teddy Prochazka, Nouredin Nouili, Ben Scott, Bryce Benhart, Turner Corcoran.

The offensive line is going to be a major talking point leading up to the 2023 season and it’s something Nebraska football fans will be watching closely this spring.

Donovan Raiola needs to get more out of this group and now that he’s on a staff that’s actually invested in running the ball, that should help.

With Prochazka and Nouili returning after being starters in 2021 and adding Ben Scott, a multi-year starter at Arizona State, it’s like Nebraska football has added three starters along the offensive line. Benhart has been starting for three seasons and a move inside might be the best thing for him.

Corcoran could also move inside and Benhart could stay where he’s at. But Corcoran seems like the best pass blocker to me and Benhart could be better suited to a move inside where he won’t have to deal with speed rushers all the time.

Ideally, Nebraska will add another starting-caliber tackle in the transfer portal this spring. Hunter Anthony did have some college experience starting games before but is no longer on the roster, so again, depth needs to be addressed.

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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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