Scholarship Gone: Casey Thompson (Florida Atlantic), Logan Smothers (Jacksonville State), Richard Torres (Incarnate Word)
Scholarship Incoming: Jeff Sims (Georgia Tech)
Walk-Ons Gone: Matt Masker (graduated), Cooper Hausmann (moved to WR), Mikey Pauley (Kansas), Jarrett Synek (South Dakota)
Phil Steele B1G Ranking of QB Room:
We start our fall camp previews with the position group that resonates the most with me for a multitude of reasons. First, i’m old enough to remember the media and message boards talking about how Tanner Lee was an NFL talent, how he was someone we needed at Nebraska to work within the Riley/Langsdorf system.
Quotes such as “Lee is absolutely an elite NFL prospect” or “Lee is built for the next level in this scheme” with articles such as this:
So when I hear things like this being reported by our media, I wish I could just block out the Riley years and the hype machine. Because as many say, we are offseason national champs year in and year out:
Not to play spoiler for the rest of the previews… But Phil Steele ranks every position room in the B1G, and Nebraska’s QB room is ranked 6th, which is the best ranking according to Phil Steele for any position group on the Huskers in 2023. How putrid is that? Just an unbelievable level of no development, no recruiting, and not keeping anyone by the last staff. Our best position room according to a top national writer, is one where Rhule brought in his own guy to start and is in his first year in Lincoln. What an absolute joke.
And for the second season in a row, Nebraska will be breaking in a new quarterback and new offensive scheme as Casey Thompson was here from Texas last year in a new system under Mark Whipple. Rarely does that equate to instant success. And it was almost comical the people sitting around telling you how Casey was going to sit around and try to earn the QB job as “you almost always need the #2 QB to play, there’s always injuries.” I hear this seemingly every freaking season from our fanbase, and we never learn. QB is the one spot where if you aren’t the starter, you are going to leave. I have said the stat that over a 4 year period of top 50 QB recruits, nearly 80% of them transfer. From here on out, anyone that tries telling me one of them should stay because the starter might get injured very well could be called out as an idiot. Tired of dealing with it.
One of the main factors for Phil Steele while predicting season success in his previews is returning quarterback production, which doesn’t bode well for the Cornhuskers in 2023. But as we all saw with Adrian Martinez from 2018-2021, returning QB production doesn’t necessarily mean wins are on the way. Maybe Sims can help us overtake the 4 and 5 wins that Martinez and Thompson got us?
And Sims doesn’t come into a much different situation than Adrian Martinez in 2018. You probably remember, but Frost and company needed “their guy” so Lee opted for the NFL, O’Brien figured out he ran a 5.4 40 which wasn’t going to go well in the offense coming from UCF and transferred, Gebbia battled it out in the fall before transferring to Oregon State, which left only Martinez in 2018 as Vedral was initially ineligible, Masker was a walk-on, and Bunch was the backup to him as a walk-on as well. We heard so much how Martinez was “going to be a better Milton” and that “once he got his own guys” things would pan out. But Frosts own guys at QB the following classes were Smothers and McCaffrey along with the other players on offense that didn’t pan out. The long and short of it… why should we think Sims is any different than Lee, Martinez, or even Thompson? Give me hope SSO! (third person narcissism for you)
Let’s move on from my misery, shall we? Sims only played in 6 games last year for the Yellow Jackets when he suffered a foot sprain. While Georgia Tech got drubbed by Clemson, Ole Miss, and UCF, Sims managed to orchestrate an upset win against #24 Pitt and beat Duke in overtime the following week. Sims left early in the Yellow Jackets week 8 game, where they struggled mightily in his absence, only scoring 9 points and limping home for the season only winning two more games.
And quite frankly I always like to get a gauge on what the fanbase thinks when a guy leaves. For example, when Hausmann left here to Michigan, was pretty easy to see we were upset. However, when a guy like Torres leaves, well you get where i’m going with this. Most Georgia Tech fans were frustrated to see him go, but understood it would probably happen with the coaching change:
The big knock on Sims is his arm, but more importantly his accuracy. People that aren’t sold on him will quote that he had 23 interceptions in 2.5 seasons while playing for Georgia Tech. But that’s a stat that our OC Satterfield quickly dismisses, stating that over half of those were when he was a true freshman thrown into the fire. And he believes that with the offense Nebraska is implementing for the QB run on top of additional development, he is poised for a breakout season throwing the ball.
Full disclosure, I can’t get a freaking read on this staff with what they believe is true, and what they are using to prop up the confidence of their players. So as of now, I don’t discredit what they say, but it is going to be taken with a grain of salt. I listen to my eyes nowadays, not my ears when it comes to Husker football predictions.
And with that said, what Sims does bring to the table is his legs. I saw it in three practices this spring, and already one this fall. He is a massive human, weighing close to 225 pounds now and adds a dimension to Nebraska’s offense that we didn’t have last year (spare me the “Thompson was a better runner than he gets credit for”, he had negative yards rushing for the whole season, take that noise somewhere else). DC White gave a speech talking about how he (amongst other DCs) love to see a QB that can’t really run. Sims finally gives us back what we had with Adrian Martinez, and i’m here for it.
Let’s get to the real question, who’s #2?
The real question is who our backup will be if Sims goes down this season? Henrich Haarberg is the guy with the legs like Sims, but Purdy gives you a bit better arm as well as P5 playing experience (not mad at his running either, just not on the level of Sims or Haarberg). You saw the coaches really gravitate towards Haarberg most of this spring, but things shifted a bit starting in April and you heard Matt Rhule make comments such as “Chubba Purdy has made great strides the last couple weeks.”
Ok, speculation time from me and going back to what I said earlier about not knowing what to believe with this staff and if they just say things to build confidence… I think the staff started feeling the momentum of HH being #2 but they know Purdy has the experience and may be able to bring some things to the table HH can not. Further, people need to remember that HH was basically just sent down with scout team most of the time in 2022 and except for individual drills, there really wasn’t much development. He’s behind. It’s my opinion that this staff believes the ceiling is higher for what they want to do with HH, but Purdy may be who they rely on early in 2023, so the “prop up someone we may need” campaign started by the staff. After all, Nebraska lost 612 snaps with Thompson, 50 with Smothers, and Purdy is the only other one with playing time from 2022 with 118 snaps. But that doesn’t help that he threw for a 47% completion percentage, 0 TDs and 2 INTs in 2022.
If I had to guess, Purdy is trotting out there if anything weird happens early in the season. However, I wouldn’t be shocked to see HH overtake him later in the year.
Only 3 scholarship QBs? Who’s left?
Nebraska brought in 2 walk-on QBs, I mean we need someone to run scout team at some point.
First is Jack Woche who transferred to Nebraska in May after spending his first season at Ole Miss. Woche played his first three years of high school football in Texas before transferring to IMG Academy in Florida for his senior year. However, he only threw 9 balls there that season. He did not play for Ole Miss and redshrited before transferring to Lincoln.
Lastly, Luke Longval, who is originally from Sioux City, Iowa but spent last year at Iowa Western, garnered a preferred walk-on offer from Nebraska after throwing at our camp in June. I do not see any stats for him last season from across the river.
Nothing too earth shattering here, but if any of these dudes get on the field for us on a Saturday make i’ll take a double tall old fashioned to watch the carnage.
We are as thin as it gets here. Seems to be the common trend though with this position in first years under head coaches. They want to bring in their own guy, most of the players from the old staff leave as it’s a change in scheme, and you are left with not much depth once the dust settles.
But i’m bullish on Sims. I like him much more than many people do, and he looks to be developing nicely with Saats help. However, just like basically any school in the country not named Alabama or Ohio State, if he goes down we are in trouble. Let’s get through our first month of games injury-free with this position group then let the chips fall where they may. If we start having to play Haarberg or Purdy for an extended amount of time it’s going to be a long 2023.
But what I will say while giving away my season prediction a bit, if Sims can stay healthy for 10 or more games, we will go bowling for the first time since 2016. If he gets hurt, it won’t be that much indifferent from 2018 where Martinez was down and we lose to a team the caliber of Troy.
The real question will be how Sims meshes with other playmakers on the offense. While he has started to really get on the same page with Kemp and to a lesser degree Fidone, what i’m curious to see is how he gels with Washington and Betts. Washington came here as Casey Thompsons guy, so there’s already a weird feeling there, and Betts took a year off so he needs to get up to speed quickly. IGC will be a factor, then it’s which freshmen isn’t overwhelmed to round things out for him.
We are going to hold off tomorrow as the B1G Network guys are here, then will have the runningback preview out on Monday!
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