Nebraska Cornhuskers Head Coach Matt Rhule looks towards the sideline in the Huskers game against the Northern Illinois Huskies.

Nebraska Football Spring Outlook: Three Storylines to Watch

Spring football for the Nebraska Cornhuskers is just around the corner and there are plenty of questions going into coach Matt Rhule’s second spring in Lincoln. There are also questions about former athletic director Trev Alberts’ departure last week and how that will affect the team’s spring practice season. With all that said, here are three storylines to watch this spring.

Nebraska football spring outlook: Three storylines to watch

Trev Alberts’ departure

Just last Wednesday, former athletic director Trev Alberts resigned and took the Texas A&M director of athletics opening out of nowhere. Alberts’ departure left a sour taste in the mouths of the Cornhusker faithful as he took the opening in College Station without notice. This now leaves the full-time president and athletic director positions open. Interim University of Nebraska President Chris Kabourek announced Thursday that the Executive Associate Athletic Director of Academics, Dennis Leblanc, was named interim athletic director.

At his spring press conference on Monday, coach Rhule spoke about his thoughts on the news last week.

“I wish them (Trev and Angie) the best,” he said. “Everyone is going to wonder why Trev left and that is his story to tell. I don’t know why. He was very forthcoming to me and I have no complaints about the way he handled anything, at least with me.”

Rhule said he was grateful for Alberts and was more than a great boss.

He used the opportunity to convey that he’s committed to the program and isn’t going anywhere.

“I’m here and I am all in,” Rhule said. “I came here to be at Nebraska… We’re not going anywhere unless you guys kick us out.”

This was very important to the head coach, as Alberts and former Nebraska President Ted Carter played a huge role in getting Rhule to Lincoln to lead the football program after an abysmal tenure by former head coach Scott Frost.

What will the quarterbacks look like?

Of course, you can’t forget about Rhule’s landmark signing of Dylan Raiola, the No. 1 quarterback in the 2024 recruiting class, via 247 Sports. Raiola comes to Nebraska as an early enrollee, and Rhule spoke about what Raiola has looked like so far during winter workouts.

“You can see the fire and competitiveness in Dylan,” Rhule said. He wants to be at the top. He’s chomping at the bid. He’s in there at six o’clock in the morning throwing the ball around before his lifts at 10:30.”

You also can’t forget about Danny Kaelin, the other freshman quarterback signee and early enrollee. Rhule said that Kaelin comes in and he’s working hard on football.

“They’re both winners,” Rhule said. “They’re both competitive guys and so you can see it with Heinrich (Haarberg) as an older player work. I’ve been pleased with their effort, but now they’ve got to get back to working on football.”

He also talked about how he’s gotten frustrated with quarterbacks and that there are certain games where things seem to not go the right way. The quarterbacks keep getting hit and the opposing defenses fool them with their coverages. Rhule said that you look for the quarterback that gets pissed off and attacks the adversity. He said that is the next step for the quarterback room and is pleased with what he has seen from them.

What will be the changes seen?

This has been a repeating question for what seems like the past five to ten seasons. What will change from the years prior? For 2024, Nebraska returns 77% production from 2023, which ranks third overall in the FBS.


The obvious changes will be on the offensive side of the ball. The Huskers were top-heavy with youth on the team. You can see that by just looking at the wide receiver position. Granted, most of the production at the position was due to injuries to veterans like Marcus Washington and Isaiah Garcia-Castenada. However, it allowed players like freshmen Malachi Coleman and Jaylen Lloyd to join the starting lineups and make an impact.

Something that will also be addressed is turnover. In 2023, Nebraska intercepted 16 passes and lost a national record of 15 fumbles. Overall, the Huskers finished with a turnover margin of -17, ranked second-to-last in the country last season. Only the Temple Owls finished with the worst turnover margin, with a -20.

Going into 2024, Rhule and his staff were able to bring in instant contributors at key skill positions on offense. Those include sophomore running back Donte Dowdell (Oregon) and senior wide receivers Jahmal Banks (Wake Forest) and Isaiah Neyor (Texas/Wyoming). This also doesn’t include any high school commitments that could have an instant contribution. Those players include high-end four-star tight end Carter Nelson, four-star offensive lineman Grant Brix and, of course, five-star quarterback Raiola. This doesn’t include every player that will have an impact, but this is something to watch this spring and in the upcoming season.

Rhule said during his press conference Monday that they have a lot of talented players who need to be developed, but that is being seen with the player’s commitment to the weight room, performance and nutrition. Overall, the changes will be really seen on the offensive side of the ball with a second year in coach Rhule’s vision for the offense.


On defense, nothing will really change other than a few new pickups through the portal and high school recruiting. Defensive coordinator Tony White is back for a second year as defensive coordinator and there are expectations to build off a very successful 2023 season on that side of the ball. In 2023, the Huskers finished with the No. 11 ranked defense, only allowing 4.62 yards per play on average. With that said Nebraska struggled to force turnovers in 2023, with only nine interceptions and five recovered fumbles. It was the downfall of the defense a season ago and it is something that has been and will continue to be addressed this spring and summer before going into the 2024 season.

The Blackshirt’s top returners include senior defensive lineman Ty Robinson, senior cornerback Tommi Hill, sophomore edge rusher Princewill Umanmielen, senior defensive lineman Nash Hutmacher and senior defensive back Isaac Gifford, to name a few. Producing more turnovers while keeping up, at least close to, the amount of production the unit produced last season with pressuring the quarterback and stopping the run will be something that will continue with Rhule and White being at Nebraska. So that’s something to expect going into spring and the preparations for the 2024 season. 

So, as we approach the 2024 Spring Game, there will be a lot to watch for and the “Kool-aid pitcher” will keep on filling up as the optimism for the program’s future continues to grow every day. The annual “Red-White” game is set for Saturday, April 27, at 11 a.m. local time at Memorial Stadium. 

Main Image: © Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

0 0 votes
Do you agree with this article? Let's see your vote!
0 0 votes
Do you agree with this article? Let's see your vote!
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x