My apologies on the delay here everyone, videos were an issue and well whatever. Let’s get into it starting with the offense!
For any of you that were wondering if the Jeff Sims talk was just fluff or was real, Spring Football Saturday should have left you feeling pretty good about what we have with our starting QB so far. The biggest issue coming from Georgia Tech was with his arm, as many people quoted how many INTs he threw there as reason for concern (including myself). But in talking to Satterfield, he brings up that “2020 was Covid year where he was thrown into the fire as a freshman with basically no practice, he had fewer interceptions every season, so we feel we can work with that.” Sims went 9/13 for 139 yards, and also showed off his legs with plays that we will post down lower.
The reality of the situation is Casey Thompson ran for negative yards last year, never threw for this staff, and is not even close to a run threat. People will say “he’s a bigger run threat than he gets credit for”, but he’s one of only a few QBs that ran for negative yards in a Husker uniform which includes Tanner Lee and others. Guys like Purdy and Smothers had more yards in much less game action.
You also have people for some reason worried about our depth now “in case Sims gets hurt” as if last year, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, or basically any other year if the starter goes down you’re not in trouble. This is much like when Frost got here and he had Martinez and his backups were Bunch, Vedral, and Masker. First years in transitions rarely come with a ton of depth. But the reality of the situation is that if you are ever counting or needing a backup to do well, you are probably in trouble anyway. You have to keep your starting QB healthy.
Sticking with depth, Haarberg basically just ran down to scout team last year, and we all saw what Purdy did the year prior. I happen to think Satterfield will do a much better job getting these guys ready than what we’ve seen the last decade or so. I’ve talked about this, but in college football 2023 you have your starter, and then your players jockeying for starting position when the starter leaves that you are developing. It just makes zero sense to think you would have Thompson AND Sims on the roster for 2023.
So why was I all in on Sims and telling people Thompson wouldn’t start? I think you saw it in the spring game, where we had a ton of QB run with plays like this:
Thompson just isn’t capable of that, and once it began to be a big part of what we needed to do (more on that in our OL summary) it was never going to Thompson. Again, CT ran for negative yards last year. You can say it was the offense, but Pickett never once ran for negative yards in the Whipple offense.
So that takes us to the #2 spot, once a running game was going to be involved for the QB, Haarberg started to insert himself as the clear backup to Sims (with Thompson out of course). And you saw more of the same with his plays:
They were willing to bet on being able to get his arm up to speed while they knew they had his legs to help him out. And to be perfectly honest, it wasn’t close between he and Purdy/Torres. But Rhule said something interesting this week:
I actually would agree with that… Purdy looked much better. But my glass is half full kind of wonders if he is just saying things to prop up confidence with people he knows he might need (like our OL)? Or, did he really make strides and my glass is half full is that Satterfield was able to improve those guys in just 15 practices this spring thus leaving me a bit more excited for the fall and confident in our backups. Probably a mixture of both, as we lost Torres, Smothers, and Thompson to the portal, so you can’t have him leave or think he isn’t any good. But I do think they improved.
This room was crowded. We got a little spoiled when we had Burkhead and then three freshman backs in Abdullah, Heard, and Green… that just doesn’t happen unless you have a veteran and then three freshman jockeying for their spot once the captain leaves. This isn’t as bad as QB where you usually only have one guy with starting experience. But realistically, if you have players with starts and snaps, you can usually keep a couple but you aren’t keeping three of them.
Things pretty much stayed true to the prediction and what our coaches have been saying this spring. Ervin Jr was leading the way, and Grant/Allen were battling it out for the backup spot. I was happy to see Grant pull out of the doghouse and insert himself as a viable threat to get the starting spot. And quite honestly once that happened and Allens coach was gone, I just felt like it was almost a matter of time.
With Allen gone, Rahmir Johnson will fit in somewhere. What I don’t understand is how he fits in. Johnson is the typical “swiss army knife” guy and that may hurt him a bit. What I mean by that is he is good at a lot of things but not great at anything that Ervin Jr and Grant give us. He will figure in somewhere, which is good.
After that you have Emmett Johnson who I have never been that impressed with, and Kwinten Ives who I obviously didn’t get a look at this spring. But our RB room is in good shape.
This is where I can’t figure out my thoughts on this. Here are the guys that are older than freshmen for us: Betts (took year off), Kemp (first-year transfer), Fleeks (first year transfer), Washington (second year transfer with best friend QB gone), and IGC (second year transfer with new lease on life).
Let’s start with the good… I think Kemp is going to be a really good slot WR (especially opposite Fidone), but typically slot WRs need some help to get open. Washington is a viable outside threat, but he doesn’t have the speed that a guy like Palmer. I do like what he brings and think he will have a very good year, but he just can’t stretch the field like Palmer could.
So with that said, when spring started I didn’t think we would have many freshmen WRs playing. But now that we need someone desperately in a “stretch the field” role… you have a ton of guys coming in with speed to burn. Who that ends up being is anyone’s guess. All of them have pros to them, but I can give you a red flag for almost all of them. Which is why I think Fleeks factors in somewhere as well. And if Betts can pull out of whatever he is going through, maybe he’s the guy for it.
We had a ton of WRs that we recruited and brought in, and WR is the easiest position to play early in college football. But we are going to need them to get up to speed in a hurry.
This room is really interesting. Thomas Fidone is your CLEAR #1, that guy is unbelievable. After that you have some options. I know everyone is excited about Gilbert, but I would say he’s #4 right now.
Boerkircher is our #2 in my opinion, a walk-on and all he does is make plays when he’s in. Further, the staff can trust what they are going to get out of him. A guy like Gilbert is pretty volatile and has some dropsies.
But our #3 in my opinion is the hybrid guy Bonner. While he is an H-back/fullback hybrid… I think Satterfield will really love being able to keep him in and have defenses not know if we have a fullback in there or another TE. Many defenses treat them the same, but it’s not that simple.
Appleget made the move to TE and he is doing what I thought he could. I was a little skeptical about the past staff not offering him sooner, as I was impressed with him at Lincoln Southeast.
I’m not sold on Androff, and i’m curious to see how Smith-Flores shows up to camp. Either way, we are in good shape here.
So… back to what we talked about at QB. Rhule has been pumping up the OL all spring. But let’s be real, we all saw what happened last year, the same coach is back, and we only brought in one transfer. Further, we had two transfers in (Rouse from Stanford) and he left us at the altar so it’s obvious we wanted more help.
Diving in more, i’ve brought this up before but when QB run becomes such a big part of the offense like it was for Martinez in 2021, it’s usually because you have to insert another player into the run game to give you a +1 when your OL is struggling. So this staff in my opinion knows we have some issues here, and wants a QB that can get out of it from time to time and is also big enough to take a bit of a pounding.
Let’s go with who we know is going to start. Ben Scott is our center. After him we are absolutely screwed so we need to keep him healthy for our center position.
Secondly, I would say Prochazka is almost assured to start at LT but they held him out a bit. But let’s just assume he’s our #2.
After that we are trying to figure out our guards and RT. Of course, Benhart is getting high praise and with Rouse gone and Corcoran unable to solidify being a tackle I think 54 is our guy.
At guard, Piper, Lutovsky, Corcoran, and Nouilli seem to be battling it out. As we talked about in our practice report, Nouilli seemed to be the whipping boy in the practices I watched, but he of course looked pretty decent in the spring game. Lutovsky impressed me at the practices but seemed to struggle in the spring game. I think Corcoran and Nouilli end up being our starters at guard, with Piper and Lutovsky backing him up. Piper is athletic enough to swing to backup center as well which is valuable.
I think our offense is in a good spot heading into the summer. Unfortunately we have a few positions that get thin in a hurry, so Sims, Scott, Prochazka, they all need to stay healthy heading into Minnesota. I like what we are doing offensively, and I think our guys will continue to develop through the summer.
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11 thoughts on “Spring Game Recap: Offense”
Did you forget IGC at WR? I’m hoping him + Betts can give us some kind of deep threat. I always assumed Doss was going to play a lot as a freshman and Coleman would be given every chance to contribute. And I hope you are right that Corcoran is going inside because that dude cannot play tackle. I just don’t know that we can trust Prochazka at LT. If he goes down again, are they comfortable trying Gottula or do they throw Corcoran back out like last year?
I absolutely forgot IGC, my fault on that. And he has a new lease on life with Joseph gone. I like his game. But I was more just highlighting that we have no guys developed in Lincoln on the roster.
Yeah I’m one of the people worried about QB depth, not because I expected it to be OK or didn’t expect Thompson to leave, but it’s just unknown if someone can fill in even short-term well. Hopefully there’s some development like you said.
In OL recap, you stated you would guess Nouilli would be starter and backup, I’m assuming Lutovsky was meant to be one of those. Just curious, are you guessing Nouilli or Lutovsky would be the starter?
My worries for offense going into the year are OL and WR. Just worried we won’t have enough pass protection or people to stretch the field to give us breathing room in the run game, or that we won’t get enough push from OLine to feel threatened by it. Really hoping my thoughts that our OLine just needed proper development to look better than it was comes to fruition to an extent.
I’m right there with you on QB depth. Not sure we’ve had someone i’ve been confident in since maybe 2010? And even then Cody Green wasn’t great. I wonder how feasible it is? But i’m hoping that once Satterfield gets going he has his starter and the first, second, and third year guys he’s grooming are ready if need be.
Nouilli the starter opposite side of Corcoran. Jeez my bad on that.
I would agree with both of those worries, and then of course QB if something happens.
Yeah, hard to keep great QB depth especially with transfer portal nowadays, and most times there is almost always going to be a dropoff when starter goes down. But if QB recruiting gas gone well for multiple years, I figure there should be at least one guy who is one of the “supposed” QBs in waiting who can fill in in spots reasonably.
Naturally with a new staff, I wouldn’t expect that to happen this year. Realm interested to see who we can pull in this year.
Ya, with the portal it’s just so difficult. Gone are the days of having a Berringer and Frazier situation. But as i’ve talked about and you spoke to here, I think once this staff gets up and running they will have their upperclass guy that is starting, then the 2-3 guys they’ve brought in and are developing behind him where hopefully one of them is at least able to spot start a bit.
And I think it may go past first year coaching staffs with teams. Usually once a starter is chosen, the guy that was battling it out with him that doesn’t get chosen takes off in the portal. Gebbia once Martinez was chosen, Green once Martinez was chosen, just situations like that where you like your depth and then all of a sudden “poof” the wrong guy transfers and you’re back into trying to create it again.
One of the biggest things in regards to QB depth in many recent years is having two very different QB’s as your #1 and #2 guy, in my opinion. With the style of offenses we’ve ran it seems like when we’ve had a QB go down we’ve had to completely change our play calling. I would say the last time we had two similar guys were maybe AM and Vedral where the play calling didn’t change much. McCaffery, Smothers, and Purdy all felt like we were running a different offense when they had to come in. Although there’s a large gap between Sims and Haarberg I don’t think we will see a big change in the play calling if he has to come in for a spell. Part of that is because of the offensive system we will run and the other part is at least Sims and HH are of a similar mold. Big strong QB’s that can run and have arm strength. Sorry that kind of turned into a long winded post but basically I think the “style” of our backup QB has been as big or bigger problem than the actual drop off of skill if that makes sense.
I think that’s a really good point. Going from Armstrong or Martinez to Kellogg III was tough because our offense had to be so different.
I didn’t get to ever watch Appleget in HS, but the narrative seems to be that he’s a good all-around football player. I always assumed he’d be on D, so was a little surprised to see him move to TE, but then again, I didn’t know a lot about him. What would you say he potentially brings to the TE room that maybe some of the others don’t?
Also, has #54 gotten better or is the the cupboard just that bare? I know we’re thin on depth, but I’m going to need convincing if it’s the former.
Can’t say I’ve seen Benhart in practice or really analyzed his spring game. I know he’s trimmed down a ton, so the hope is he’ll play at a more, athletic natural weight and he’ll move much better this year. But yeah we’ll see come game time what it looks like.
But also, i don’t think we really have anyone behind him, everyone is real young and Frost’s recent OT recruits are gone or not panned put
Ya, I think Appleget is just a “football player” if that makes sense and what you are referencing. They can get him in a lot of different spots and he may be ok.
In regard to 54… I think it’s a combination. He has gotten better, but I think the cupboard is just so bare with Prochazka sitting out live drills and us losing Rouse from Stanford. He basically has to be good and has to start for us. So Rhule is propping him up.