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Nebraska Football’s Path to Bowl Eligibility

What Nebraska Needs to Do to Still Win 6 Games

Northern Illinois v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

Off to a 1-2 start was not ideal for the Huskers this season while things just got worse losing both Gabe Ervin and Ramir Johnson for the season. Even with that bad news, I still feel that Nebraska has a great shot at making a bowl game. The West lacks a clear cut team and Nebraska’s remaining schedule outside of Michigan is very winnable. But if they are going to get bowl eligible, these things need to happen.

Ride with Sims

For many Husker fans and even media members, the clear option to to roll with Heinrich Haarberg because he didn’t turn the ball over (fumble was on the offensive line) and won a game. However we have to admit beating a bad MAC school at home is different than road games at Minnesota and Colorado. While Sims has turnover issues that cost Nebraska the Minnesota game, he’s still clearly the best option and has played much better than people are giving him credit for. Against Colorado Sims did throw an interception but his adjusted completion percentage (taking out drops and balls thrown away) was 84%.

Heinrich Haarberg played well against Northern Illinois but it wasn’t the clean game that a lot of people believe it was. Haarberg played well but is still a work in progress. Haarberg is competent to come in but Sims talent is superior. That being said, Sims cannot continue to turn the ball over. Thus Sims should have a short leash and Rhule should insert replace Sims if he continues to turn it over.

Run Sims

After the Minnesota game a lot of the discussion was whether or not Sims can carry the ball 19 times a game. Against Colorado Sims only had three designed runs which is quite the correction. Then against Northern Illinois, Haarberg had 22 carries. There has to be some type of balance. Sims strength is his running ability, you have to find balance, but three is far too little. Add in that both Ervin and Johnson are out, they’ll need to lean on the quarterback run game even more.

Play Haarberg

Before the announced injuries to Ervin and Johnson I thought that Nebraska should still play Haarberg periodically throughout the game to gain some experience. Now that Gabe and Ramir are out, playing Haarberg seems like a no brainer. You’re going to have to rely more on your quarterback run game. You don’t want Sims or Haarberg to average over 20 carries a game, so why not mix them both in to take some of the load off.

Open Up the Offense

Against NIU the offense seemed to be spread out out a bit more compared to the heavy sets we saw in the first two games. I like how they showed some creativity putting Billy Kemp in backfield and running him out on a route. Nebraska still needs to pound the ball to be successful, but that doesn’t mean they have to line up with nine offensive players close to the line of scrimmage.

Get the Freshman Going

If this team is going to win in Big Ten they need to find some playmakers at receiver. Getting Jaidyn Doss back from a wrist injury can help. Doss was a big get in recruiting who many saw as someone who could make an instant impact. Nebraska needs someone to step up.

Billy Kemp and Fidone are getting more involved, but this offense needs more juice. Jalen Lloyd and Malachi Coleman have seen some snaps but they’ve been limited. Both are tremendous track athletes. I’d rather see Nebraska take shots deep to either of those two guys rather than Tommy Hill.