Arguably the worst offensive line i’ve seen in a Nebraska uniform took the field last year for the last season under the old regime. It was painful to watch the lack of development when we had a majority of our starting offensive line be 4 stars. And to really confuse things, the coach of the worst position group i’ve seen in quite some time got retained.
Quite frankly, I think Rhule knows we weren’t any good and he wants to show that he can develop and make us good in spots that we weren’t before, with the same coach that everyone thought wasn’t any good. Not a bad carrot that he is Dylan’s uncle as well, but i’ll table that for now.
But I have to be honest, i’m actually intrigued with what this position group COULD be. It’s well documented that I thought our S&C was doing our guys a disservice by just trying to add weight on guys while our OC and HC simultaneously wanted a “spread you out” offense that put our guys in space when they couldn’t freaking move. I was just screaming for us to go more north and south, if we are going to recruit and try to make massive humans, don’t make them go lateral. Get people moving towards the endzone not the sideline. I think Rhule’s offense will do just that, and further he will be able to develop guys at a much better and faster pace. While we’ve lost close to a dozen offensive linemen from last year between scholarship players and walk-ons, Rhule still has more bodies to choose from (with more talent according to recruiting stars I might add) than he has had at either of his previous two collegiate stops.
Let’s start with the biggest addition
Like I told you with Kemp in the WR preview… Ben Scott is transferring here to start and be a big piece of what we do. He has played pretty much all over the line, but Nebraska seems to have decent interior OL depth while needing help at center (loss of Hixson) or at tackle (injuries and bad play). I look for Raiola and Rhule to figure out who our best other 4 are and plug Scott in accordingly. I think if the coaches can get Benhart, Prochazka, or Corcoran up to speed at tackle that we will see Scott at the center spot.
The big 3
Speaking of Prochazka, Benhart, and Corcoran, there’s a lot up in the air. Teddy has to be healthy from his knee injury, Benhart just quite frankly has to be better, and Corcoran needs to find his best spot. In my opinion we need 2 of these guys to hit at tackle so we can get Scott at the center spot.
So here’s where it gets interesting with what I said with the above 3… our depth at the interior seemingly is pretty good. Nouilli if he can be good when he’s not Lattimer’d up on roids seems like a great person to have back. Ethan Piper has started games for us many times and actually started looking much better towards the end of the season last year so could he fill a void at guard or even center if we need Scott at tackle? The other guy i’ll lump into the interior with these guys is Henry Lutovsky where I think he should play at some point, will that be this year?
So that’s 7
So with Scott, Prochazka, Benhart, Corcoran, Nouilli, Piper, and Lutovsky that gives you 7 dudes that if they were starting along the line i’d feel pretty good about it. I do still feel the sting from the Stanford OT that committed then took off to Oklahoma, because if he showed up we have 2 for sure starters and finding 3 starters between those remaining 6 guys. But it is what it is, I think Rhule can find the right balance and a more than serviceable line with these guys.
The incoming freshmen
Nebraska has 6 incoming true freshmen in Gunnar Gottula, Brock Knutson, Sam Sledge, Mason Goldman, and Jason Maciejczak. While I think a couple of these guys have the stature to be able to play as true freshmen, i’m not entirely sure they can be significant as first year guys. With that said, I actually like their chances better than a couple of the next guys.
I was never really on board with the Justin Jenkins commitment, I feel like we just didn’t have anyone committed and we couldn’t get blanked. Jacob Hood the transfer from Georgia has a longgggg ways to go to be ready to play in terms of being in shape.
Walk-ons that Rhule has mentioned
Rhule stated we are a bit thin at the OL so there are obviously some walk-ons that may need to get significant reps in practice. Dylan Parrott, Keegan Menning, Ezra Miller and Joey Mancino he said have a chance to really make a name for themselves while we have some guys out with injury. While i’d be shocked if they ended up starting, getting some reps to give rests or during an injury could make some sense with one or two of them.
Speaking of lack of linemen available
I am going to be curious how the walk-on program goes with Rhule. The guy is doing a great job in pretty much all areas, but our walk-on program made it so we typically had about 20 linemen ready to practice every spring. This isn’t a knock on him he’s 3 months in, i’m just curious where it will go with how they get some of these guys or create the depth with walk-ons. Us having not enough linemen doesn’t necessarily concern me, but it can make things more difficult to practice.
What’s really weird typing this though is the fact that it’s weird for us at Nebraska, but for Rhule he actually has more people available than he has had at any of his other stops. So maybe I should stop overanalyzing it.
The bottom line for me is I think we developed awfully in the weight room, on the practice field, and our offense didn’t suit who we had the last 5 years. So it makes almost too much sense that we were terrible along the OL. People forget Austin and Frost got into it because he adamantly disagreed with our offensive scheme because he knew that wasn’t our guys strengths. We tried giving him ‘run game coordinator’ title but in the end it didn’t work.
While I can’t speak to much of how the weight room is developing us, I think Rhule and Satterfield will at least know what our guys are capable of and tailor to that. They won’t just try to assert their plays or offense. Call me dumb, but I think we will at least be an offensive line we can run behind a bit in 2023.
I am not sure if I can get my practice report up tomorrow, if not it will be out next week along with a couple more position previews.
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