The Weekly Rundown: Red-White game week is here
We set the stage for Nebraska's Red-White spring game week and more in the HuskerOnline Weekly Rundown.
You have to feel pretty good about these things right now:
A fan statement on Saturday: We won't see 85,000 in Memorial Stadium on Saturday, but there's a good chance the crowd will push 55,000-60,000 fans. The early forecast calls for a sunny, 66-degree day.
If NU indeed pushes 60,000 on Saturday, to put that in perspective, Big Ten Champion Michigan's spring game attendance wasn't even announced, but shots on the Big Ten Network showed a very small crowd at the Big House.
Mock Nebraska fans all you want, but it is truly remarkable the support this program continues to get rain or shine. There are also a lot of good reasons to attend this year's game to see Scott Frost's new offensive coaching hires in action, along with several of the new players.
Plenty of vanilla: With that said, for those expecting to get a good look at some of the new play concepts and looks Mark Whipple has brought to Lincoln, you won't see much on Saturday.
NU's Red-White spring game will air on the Big Ten Network live at 1 pm. The Huskers August opponent Northwestern will play their spring game on Apr. 15 with no scheduled television broadcast planned. You better believe Pat Fitzgerald and his staff will be watching the Nebraska spring game closely on Saturday, so that means some very vanilla looks from the Huskers.
Former Husker OL Tanner Farmer: The former Nebraska offensive lineman played in 31 games for the Big Red from 2016 to 2018. From there, Tanner Farmer joined Concordia in 2019 to wrestle and was the NAIA national runner-up.
Farmer continues his wrestling dream internationally, and just recently won the Bill Farrell Memorial International Open. By winning that event, Farmer will represent Team USA at the 2022 Pan American Wrestling games in Mexico.
These were my surprises of the week:
The JMI Sports deal falling through: When Nebraska announced they planned on reaching a 12-year deal worth $216 million with JMI Sports, that seemed pretty rock solid.
If you are in Athletic Director Trev Alberts shoes, you don't make a public announcement like that and prepare things to go in front of the NU Board of Regents for Approval if you are not sure about the deal.
Clearly, something changed over the last couple of weeks. My read is JMI Sports may have bitten off more than they could chew, and tried to rework some things that maybe Nebraska didn't care for.
Regardless of what happened, this is a bad look for the NU Athletic Department and I'm sure something Alberts is not very happy about. My guess now is Nebraska will continue to operate their own radio network in 2022-23 unless something can get put together here late, which seems unlikely at this point. A deal of this magnitude is not something you typically rush.
Offensive staff energy: During my Husker Chat Live interview with the secondary, it was interesting to hear Isaac Gifford say the biggest thing he's seen the new staff bring to practice is not only energy, but a level of competitiveness they didn't see before.
You are seeing guys like Mickey Joseph and Bryan Applewhite get after it. You hear stories like Donovan Raiola barking back at defensive coaches in practice, especially during the scrimmage fight right before spring break.
There's just a different level of edge to these guys, and it's going to be interesting to see it all come together.
The jury is still out
Questions still surround these things:
Nebraska's portal wants/needs: The roster situation is fluid, but today this would be my guess on NU's post-spring transfer portal needs:
Defensive line/Pass Rusher (2) - This clearly remains the biggest roster need. TCU's Ochaun Matthis visiting Lincoln for the spring game is a good start.
Inside linebacker (1) - With Will Honas gone and Luke Reimer and Garrett Snodgrass out this spring, it really puts in perspective how thin the inside linebacker room is in terms of experience.
Offensive line (1) - Ideally, the Huskers would still like to find a tackle body if the right one is out there.
Tight end (1) - Thomas Fidone is out, Chancellor Brewington is out, and both Chris Hickman and Travis Vokolek had off-season shoulder surgery. If the right one-for-one tight end became available, I could see the Husker entertaining it.
The QB depth/competition: Can Cubba Purdy provide a push here this final week of spring practice? Will Purdy play in the spring game? Right now, there has not been much of a QB competition, as Casey Thompson has operated as the No. 1 guy all spring. Going back to January, I think Frost envisioned much more competition in this room.
This has my attention
Moving forward, this has my attention:
QB Dylan Raiola: Arguably the nation's No. 1 ranked quarterback for the class of 2024 will be making his third visit to Lincoln since June. Yes, the competition is steep, but this is huge to get Dyan Raiola back on campus with now his uncle Donovan coaching the offensive line.
TCU portal target Ochaun Mathis: Not only will one of the nation's top 2024 recruits be in Lincoln on Saturday, but arguably the top overall transfer portal target will be here in TCU defensive end Ochaun Mathis.
The Huskers have been working on this one for months. I think having Applewhite here should also serve as a big in with Mathis. I also know Mathis is expected to have a large group of family and friends in Lincoln with him for the weekend. That also can't hurt.
Baseball's sweep at Ohio State: Rome wasn't built in a day, but this was quite a statement for Will Bolt's team at Ohio State. Now the question is, can the Huskers take care of business against Omaha in the midweek before a hot Rutgers team comes into Lincoln? We should have some good weather as well for all four games in Lincoln.
Post-spring roster/portal movement: Spring practice will end on Saturday. That means we will most likely see some more post-spring roster movement. The question is, how quickly will it all take place?
My guess is within days of the spring game's end we'll have a good idea of which players are moving on, as NU also needs to know so they can have a better idea of their scholarship numbers.
Sean Callahan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and he can be heard each day at 6:45 am and 5:05 pm on Big Red Radio 1110 KFAB in Omaha during the football season. He can also be seen on KETV Channel 7 in Omaha during the fall and each week he appears on Nebraska Public Media's Big Red Wrap-Tuesday's at 7 pm.