When I was asked what my thoughts were on the potential for Heinrich Haarberg starting during the 5 Points of Contact Podcast after the Colorado game, I tried to do my best to deliver an ok(ish) scouting report of our backup QB.
I’ve been out of high school for approximately half of my life now, but I still like to keep up with the last football team I played for from time to time. I watched Haarberg start a handful of times, particularly his Senior year to see what he would be like. I was pleased with what I saw.
To me, it wasn’t a big surprise that he was capable of taking care of the football, whether it was with his feet or his arm. He gained a handful of extra yards by running guys over. I know many of you would prefer he slide so he doesn’t take a shot, but trust me, it hurts FAR LESS when YOU are the one delivering the blow to a defender.
Defensive players can’t damage the legs in a one-on-one situation when you are going into their chest with your shoulder pads. Now if multiple defenders are around, then please for the love of God get down. Having a healthy QB might be the last bastion of hope in any offensive position at the rate we are going.
Haarberg was fairly accurate with his arm. Going 14-24 is nothing to write home about, but when it involves 2 TD passes and 0 INTs AND a win, then job done. He definitely has his favorite target in roommate Thomas Fidone, but he looked to get the ball in the hands of his receivers as well. He completed a pass to seven different guys, which means he can distribute the ball if the game calls for a pass heavy attack.
I think this would be a good time for Matt Rhule to use Haarberg to gain valuable experience. Not because Sims has turned the ball over, but because Haarberg will need to use this opportunity to learn how to be a Power 5 quarterback. Giving him game time against non-power 5 teams will help him learn how to slow the game down for himself. It eases some of the pressure off of Sims to return from injury too soon and also prepares Haarberg in case of emergency situations later in the year.
Sims is the undoubted starter according to Rhule when healthy, so why not let Sims rest for another week and have him ready to go when Michigan arrives? Why not let Haarberg have another week to see what he can do? If Heinrich goes out there and plays like he did again this week, isn’t it better for Nebraska to have a healthy starter completely ready for conference play? If Haarberg improves, isn’t that also better for Nebraska?
Husker fans love a Nebraska kid who plays well for the home state team. There is a sense of pride felt by home state players who give it their all for 90,000 fans week in week out. The fans have an affinity for everyone on the roster, but the Nebraska kids get far more love as one of our own. Let Haarberg be the darling Nebraska kid one more week, then throw whoever the best option is we have at Michigan.
Go Big Red!