Nebraska offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield called Jeff Sims’ favorite play for the first designed pass of the Red-White Game. He wanted to build the quarterback’s confidence. Sims took the snap and waited for Nate Boerkircher to find an opening in the seam. “Big body, big target, put it on him and let him roll,” Sims told himself before rearing back and firing.
Boerkircher caught the pass and rumbled for a 38-yard gain, the longest play of the spring exhibition. Sims settled in to throw 9-of-13 for 139 yards, easily the best performance of Nebraska’s quarterbacks. Coaches tried evenly distributing reps among quarterbacks throughout the spring. Still, the transfer arrival from Georgia Tech emerged as the positional front runner among those healthy enough to compete. Any doubt may have been put to rest this past week when three scholarship quarterbacks entered the portal. When asked about quarterback competition following the Red-White Game, Sims welcomed competition.
“Go out there, focus on yourself and get better,” Sims said. “And just, competition is competition. It is how it is. Go out there and focus on yourself and just get better.”
He pointed to aspects of his Red-White performance to clean up. He knew a couple of plays off the top of his head where he could have performed better. The offense, as a whole, needs to also be cleaner. Offenses fumbled the ball eight times during the spring game, including a dropped shotgun snap from Sims. He said those mistakes have to be fixed during the summer as the Huskers move forward.
Sims also ran in a designed 7-yard middle draw for a touchdown. He shook off two attempted tacklers in effort of getting to the end zone. Playing quarterbacks live most of the spring allowed him to grow familiar in Nebraska’s new offense at game speed. He said going live helped them build intensity and practices started feeling like games. The crowd of 66,000 inside Memorial Stadium also helped bring a game atmosphere.
“I ran out there and was like ‘Man this is like a real game,'” Sims said. “It was crazy to see that many people show up to a spring game. That was really one of the big reasons why I came here because on my visit they said the fans were crazy and I know that was something I have always wanted to experience.”
Nebraska quarterbacks were live runners who could be tackled to the ground in all three scrimmages. Head coach Matt Rhule first told the defense that the morning of the first scrimmage. Admittedly, quarterbacks broke a few big runs that scrimmage. The second time around, defense improved and limited big plays. Sims credited Nebraska’s defense for growing and bringing heat that required improvement out of the offense. He also feels defensive coordinator Tony White’s defense brought several looks that can help the offense prepare for opponents. (Sims faced White previously during ACC showdowns between Georgia Tech and Syracuse.)
Sims complimented Nebraska’s group of receivers, including transfer arrival Billy Kemp IV. He found Kemp near the sidelines for a 24-yard completion during the Red-White Game. “He gets open and if you see Billy open you’ve got to throw him the ball,” Sims said of the play. The quarterback is excited to build a chemistry with all the receivers this summer. The entire new signing class also joins the fray this summer, which includes standouts Malachi Coleman, Jaidyn Doss, Jaylen Lloyd and Brice Turner.
“I’m excited for the summer to keep building chemistry with the guys and going out there and working with them,” Sims said. “And just building that overall camaraderie with them and hanging out with them and getting closer with them. Those receivers are a great group of guys, hard workers and they be on top of their stuff. I’m very excited about it.”
With camaraderie comes increased intensity. Sims feels the team has set the tone for what it can be, which is a “special team.” In order to get there, the Huskers need to “take it up a notch” in the summer, he said. Like linebacker MJ Sherman, Sims noted the need to be a player-led team. Rhule and his coaching staff tried to build culture and confidence in the spring. They want the players to carry self-ownership into the summer. Sims feels they’re in the process of doing just that.