This Saturday the Nebraska football team is set to have its annual spring game. We will try to predict which veteran or incoming Cornhuskers will start on offense for the Red And White Teams next week.
The Red Team: As a junior in 2022, Casey Thompson established himself as a leader in Nebraska’s quarterback room. He passed for 2,407 yards along with 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in Scott Frost’s offense. But it wasn’t enough for the Oklahoma native as he only led the Cornhuskers to a 4-8 finish. Furthermore, Thompson was riddled with injuries. He had the inability to keep his throwing hand healthy. Because of this, he is playing a limited role in Nebraska’s offense by helping the other quarterbacks. Currently, it remains to be seen if Matt Rhule plays him for the spring game, or if Jeff Sims will play against other backups on the roster.
The White Team: As a sophomore at Georgia Tech under head coach Geoff Collins, Jeff Sims showed flashes of excellence when he passed for 1,115 yards and 30 touchdowns as a Yellowjacket. Now in his new role at Nebraska, he has an open lane to nabbing the quarterback spot. Thompson is still recovering from his injuries from last season, and only one of the quarterbacks has only had true game experience in his career. Does this mean it is his to lose or does one of the other quarterbacks surprise Rhule enough to take his spot?
Familiar Faces Emerge In The Running Back Room
The Red Team: In his role at running back last season, Gabe Ervin rushed for 94 yards on 20 carries. However, his promising season would be derailed as he suffered a season-ending knee injury against Iowa. Now as we turn the corner into 2023, he is earning praise from Rhule and the other coaches. This is because he has attacked the offseason by becoming a stronger and faster version of his previous self. The trust in his approach to the offseason sets Ervin up for a starting role in the spring game, but I still wonder if he is going to emerge as the starter amongst other players come August.
Read more about Gabe Ervin here: https://lastwordonsports.com/collegefootball/2023/03/26/which-of-nebraskas-running-backs-makes-an-impact-this-spring/
The White Team: Anthony Grant proved himself as a legitimate threat in Nebraska’s offense last season when he rushed for 915 yards along with six touchdowns to end his junior season with the Cornhuskers. But it looks as though he has a long road ahead. On March 20th, Grant was suspended day to day by the head coach because of his academic issues. Although it has been several weeks since he has been cleared, we still haven’t seen a glimpse of his play in the Spring. Is he doing that well in Rhule’s new offense, or have the coaches upstaged him for someone better?
New Blood At Wide Receiver
The Red Team: As a four-year starter under Matt Rhule, Josh Fleeks excelled in his time at Baylor. Although he only had three touchdowns, he could separate defenders when he had the ball in his hands. This was shown throughout his career when he hauled in 48 receptions for 727 yards. Now at Nebraska, Fleeks is in serious competition to be the starter amongst other talents like Billy Kemp IV and Isaiah Garcia Castaneda. He has experience in Matt Rhule’s system, but is this enough for him to be a top candidate? We will see, but his experience may earn him the starting nod for now.
The White Team: In his junior year as a Cornhusker, Marcus Washington proved himself as a reliable option alongside Trey Palmer. He hauled in 31 receptions for 471 yards and one touchdown. Now as a senior in 2023, he looks to be the starting wide receiver for the White Team. His experience in Frost’s offense positions him for great things, but does Rhule have enough trust in him? Washington and Thompson have another year together to make plays. However, he may not get the majority of receptions at the Spring game if another wide receiver steps up.
Two Tight Ends to Watch Under Bob Wager
The Red Team: As a third-year junior out of Lewis Central High School, Thomas Fidone’s career was cut short after two Spring knee injuries derailed his chance at early playing time. Now as we enter 2023, he has even more roadblocks ahead. He has a new tight ends coach in Bob Wager and a competitor for playing time in transfer Arik Gilbert. But this hasn’t stopped him. In fact, the 6-6 tight end feels stronger than ever. But is it enough to surpass Arik Gilbert’s experience?
The White Team: As a five-star signee from LSU, Gilbert exploded for the Tigers in 2020 when he hauled in 35 passes for 368 yards along with two touchdowns in eight starts. Sadly, he couldn’t improve his stock at Georgia. This is because he only caught two passes for 16 yards along with one touchdown for the Bulldogs. However, His fortunes could change at Nebraska. He has an immediate path to the starting spot under Bob Wager, and he has legitimate experience on a big stage. But for him though, it’s all about learning the new offense in order to compete.
Main Image courtesy Sports Illustrated