Sep 30, 2023; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Matt Rhule during the third quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Memorial Stadium.

2024 Nebraska Red-White scrimmage review

On Saturday, the Nebraska Cornhuskers concluded their 2024 spring season with their annual Red-White scrimmage at Memorial Stadium. Over 60,000 people came out to see the returning and new faces on the team. From the new faces, the quarterbacks and wide receivers took the spotlight on Saturday. Here are some takeaways from Saturday’s spring game. 

2024 Nebraska Red-White scrimmage review


It should be no surprise that quarterbacks are one of the first things mentioned when you look at headlines from the spring game, especially when Nebraska landed five-star Dylan Raiola over the offseason. Not only Husker nation get their first look, the entire nation got to see a sneak preview of what a five-star quarterback would look like at Nebraska. They also got to see the improvement from junior quarterback Heinrich Haarberg and also a look a freshman quarterback Daniel Kaelin. The quarterbacks switched off over possession with Haarberg being first, Raiola was second and Kaelin was third. 

You could tell on Saturday that Haarberg has made improvements to his throwing form, ability to find receivers and completions. He completed 8 of 13 passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns, with the most impressive touchdown pass coming on a 41-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Jacory Barney Jr. Haarberg said post-game that his throwing motion is better from last season but has a long way to go. He said that he will work on it more this summer so that he is ready for fall camp. 

Now moving on to Raiola, believe it or not, he looked like a five-star quarterback. Raiola had a fantastic first half, throwing both of his touchdowns in the half. On his first drive of the game, he went 4 for 4 on passes and capped off his first drive with a 16-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Janiran Bonner on a fade to the back of the endzone. Raiola did however throw an interception on his second drive but made up for it with a 61-yard completion to sophomore wide receiver Jaylen Lloyd for a touchdown. Coach Matt Rhule said postgame that Raiola is unlike many younger quarterbacks. Many young quarterbacks abandon a potential completion if there is just a little bit of coverage. However, Rhule said that Raiola can and will put the ball where only the receiver can get it. We saw that on Saturday on both of his touchdown passes, especially on the throw to Lloyd. His throw to the sophomore receiver got the attention of the nation on X, with many fans and media members freaking out that Nebraska might have a quarterback that can “actually throw the football”. Without overreacting, you could say that the Huskers have found their quarterback. He completed 16 of 22 passes for 239 with two touchdowns and an interception. Rhule has made it clear though that Raiola will have to earn it and he will have to earn it during fall training camp later this summer. 

Kaelin got his chance to shine, starting on the third possession of the game. He had a slow start to the game, including throwing an interception to redshirt freshman defensive back Ethan Nation. However, Kaelin settled in and did what he needed to do, leading a couple of touchdown drives. He completed 9 of 16 passes for 91 yards. Overall, as mentioned before, he did what he needed to do and Rhule has said that Kaelin strives to complete his goals every day and completes them as aggressively as possible. If Saturday proved anything, it proved that Nebraska will have three potential starting quarterbacks in the quarterback room and will make fall camp interesting. 

Wide Receivers

There were a few standouts from the spring game at the wide receiver position. Those would include Lloyd, Barney and Bonner. All three made great plays and catches throughout the game. Barney had himself a great game. On top of catching three passes for 66 yards and a touchdown, he took a 78-yard kickoff return nearly to the house. Barney proved himself not only as a great receiver but as a good kick returner. Obviously, one of the wide receivers that has the potential to be a huge playmaker is Lloyd. It was seen early on during the spring game with the deep pass from Raiola to him. The big play potential is there and will be something to watch this fall. There were other players that were not seen or got little playing time on Saturday. Those include, sophomore Malachi Coleman, senior Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda, senior Jahmal Banks and senior Isaiah Neyor  Coleman and Garcia-Castaneda haven’t played at all this spring but should be good by fall camp. Banks and Neyor just got limited touches like many of the veteran players on the roster on Saturday. 

The wide receiver position group will be one of the most impressive position groups in 2024 and will be something to watch throughout the rest of the offseason, going into the 2024 season. 

Tough day for the defense?

If you watched the scrimmage on Saturday, it seemed that the defense struggled at times, especially with the two 40+ yard touchdown plays. However, if you couldn’t tell, many of the best players on that side of the ball either did not play or got limited playing time on Saturday. Players like senior defensive lineman Nash Hutmacher, senior defensive lineman Ty Robinson, senior safety Marques Buford Jr and senior Isaac Gifford were on that list. However, some younger players got a chance to play. Sophomore defensive back Ethan Nation intercepted Kaelin’s pass and redshirt freshman Mason Jones got himself an interception from Raiola’s pass. Redshirt freshman linebacker D’Andre Barnes had the best day on the defense, leading all defensive production with six solo tackles on the day. Overall, there is work to be done before the regular season. However, Nebraska has the amount of talent coming back to have a top defense in the Big Ten. 


Unfortunately, the Huskers didn’t go without any injuries on Saturday. Nebraska played “real football” and lost two players for potentially a long time. Redshirt freshman wide receiver Demitirus Bell went down with what seems to be a serious knee injury. Bell had an impressive spring and it sucks to see his season potentially over already. The Huskers also lost sophomore defensive back Blye Hill to a knee injury as well. Throughout the spring, Hill had garnered high praise from Rhule and potentially was in line to be one of the starting cornerbacks for the 2024 season. The timeline for both players is unknown and Rhule was not very optimistic post-game when talking about the injuries. It just goes to show that injuries can happen anytime and Nebraska has had its fair share of injuries as of recently. 

Main Image: © Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

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