A few days ago, I put a couple polls up that kind of surprised me with the results of where the Nebraska fans and their heads were at. But like all things with a maximum amount of characters (such as Twitter), things can get lost in translation or you may not have enough space to explain enough. We will go into my thoughts on these polls:
Thompson vs Sims
This one kind of surprised me. I get that as Nebraska fans, we saw some of the things that Thompson was capable of last year. Compounding our thoughts on him, we saw just how bad we were on Saturdays when he didn’t play. So I kind of get it.
But we have a completely new coaching staff, and a staff who brought in their own transfer QB that has started games at his previous school. What’s really interesting, and a few of you brought it up, is that Thompson is out the entirety of spring. So we will be installing a new offense, the coaches will really be trying to see what we have so they can get into round 2 of the portal post-spring. They are essentially going to take a look at what Sims can do (and the other guys on the roster) while on the field.
Allow me to expand a bit… these coaches are going to be installing most of their offense, but they are also going to try and figure out what this team is good at. As Rhule has stated many times, while this is a rebuild, I think we can win some games this year. There’s no reason to go back to 3 wins if we had 4 last year. So they will be trying to figure all of that out without Thompson.
Further, how many times have we heard it referenced that Matt Rhule would like a running threat at QB. I happen to agree, in college football a quarterback who can create something if there is no one open is a huge asset. Someone did give a very good tweet to me to somewhat counter what Rhule said (not what he was trying to do, but just was providing context into what we may get):
While the B1G has shifted away from QBs who are running for over 500 yards a season like Martinez or Armstrong were for us, the threat is what is needed.
And to go deeper with that, Casey Thompson had NEGATIVE rushing yards on the year. While some will sit and say Thompson is better than that, and it’s a lot about the OL, having negative yards rushing on a season basically means you aren’t that guy. And I think that will inevitably be the undoing of Thompson at starter for us.
But let me give one caveat. We always say we want a running QB, until we find out that a running QB can’t hit water falling out of a boat and his accuracy is awful. It’s what I said on the message board all the time about McCaffrey when people were clamoring for him to start over Martinez, his arm was far inferior to Martinez. What might end up being in Thompson’s favor is if we go through spring and we are just unable to complete easy passes. You see, Thompson’s known commodity for Rhule and Satterfield is his arm, I think they know he can make the throws for them.
My conclusion? Rhule and his staff are going to see if Sims can make the minimally necessary throws for the offense and understand that his legs are better than anyone else we could have possibly start for us. Sims will win the starting job, and while I don’t believe Rhule will name him starter after the spring, he will be running things through summer. Unless Sims is just throwing things everywhere and not completing passes, if that happens Thompson is going to get his chance as soon as he’s healthy this summer. But Sims it is.
This one shocked me even more than the Sims v Thompson thing. I understood that a bit, because we have a known guy with Thompson so I get people voting for him. With this one, I was very confused. We’ve watched our team win 4 games, 4 games, 5 games, 3 games, 3 games, and 4 games each of the last 6 seasons, yet our expectation is that we are going to do something we haven’t done since 2016 with 40 new players coming in and 50 new personnel coming in? I didn’t get it.
However, I believe “expectation” means different things to different people. And a lot of people probably voted for what they think is possible or hope is going to happen. So I get that.
I really won’t judge Rhule and his staff until after year 2 anyway. My EXPECTATION is 4 wins minimum. The schedule is manageable, but so was the 2022 season schedule from what I heard from all sorts of media members and on social media. So that really doesn’t matter. We lost to Georgia Southern, one score win against an FCS school, doors blown a few times, the list goes on.
However, I would be DISSAPOINTED if we didn’t get to a bowl game. I think we can get that done. Theoretically Colorado, Northern Illinois, and Louisiana Tech should be automatic wins for us. But Coach Prime is going to be tough even though I think he will fail in Boulder. Really no game has been easy for us. But if you can figure out a way to win those 3, you only have to win 3 more and you have teams like Northwestern, Maryland, Purdue with a new coach.
The long and short of it for me is we better be at a bowl by 2024, that is absolutely achievable. I don’t believe that the EXPECTATION for 2023 should be a bowl game when we have a first year head coach and we haven’t made a bowl game since 2016. But I also see how people can look at our schedule and think we might be able to get to 6, 7, or even 8 wins if things fell in line.
I still am thinking 6-6 and our first bowl birth in 7 seasons. That would be a hell of a start and foundation for Rhule and his staff. Couple that with Raiola committing and the recruiting class that would follow, the 2024 schedule that’s already easier than what our 2023 non-conference is, and we may get close to 10 wins that year. But that cart is too far in front of the horse.
Monday we are going to pivot a bit, and just as I did with Frost and his staff, I’m going to go over some things that give me some pause so far with the Rhule tenure and what are some “watch-outs” moving forward.
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