This offense felt “so close” throughout 2021. They played with pretty much every team on the schedule, but made crucial mistakes at inopportune times. We all know that close isn’t good enough. Scott Frost made some changes for 2022, but will that be enough to go from “close” to winning games?
Returning passing leader: Logan Smothers, 317 yards
Returning rush leader: Rhamir Johnson, 495 yards
Returning receiving leader: Omar Manning, 380 yards
Returning OL starts: 64 (18 by Benhart, 10 by Piper, 7 by Nouili, 2 by Prochazka, 12 by Corcoran, 1 by Banks, and 14 by Hixson)
Returning coaches: 1 (Sean Beckton, TE)
That last stat is the big one. As we know, Scott Frost cleaned house on the offensive side of the ball and fired four coaches near the end of the 2021 season. Gone are Matt Lubick (OC/WR), Mario Verduzco (QB), Ryan Held (RB), and Greg Austin (OL). In are Mark Whipple (OC), Mickey Joseph (WR), Bryan Applewhite (RB), and Donovan Raiola (OL).
After trying to be both head coach and de facto offensive coordinator for four years, Scott Frost went hunting for a veteran coach to call the offense. Gray-haired Mark Whipple comes to Nebraska from Pitt, where he was most recently renowned for turning Kenny Picket into a Heisman finalist and potential first round draft pick.
The other large change is the departure of Adrian Martinez to Kansas State and the incoming transfers of Casey Thompson and Chubba Purdy. They will provide competition for Logan Smothers and Heinrich Haarberg with Thompson widely regarded as the clubhouse leader to take the first snap next fall.
The Biggest Unknown for 2022
The changes at quarterback, offensive coordinator and the sexy hire of Mickey Joseph for wide receivers should draw attention. But any self-respecting Husker fan will look at the trenches to decide if Scott Frost will keep his job past 2022.
The offensive line is the biggest unknown. How far Donovan can bring the big guys along will determine the fate of the Husker offense in 2022.