Hail Varsity Mailbag
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Mailbag: Nebraska’s Offensive Line, Baseball Expectations and More

January 05, 2022

It’s time for another edition of the mailbag.

This week, we tackle questions about Nebraska’s offensive line, the baseball team’s expectations and Husker female athletes who deserve more shine. Oh, and transfer quarterbacks—how could we forget about them?

So, let’s get this show on the road. Here’s the mailbag:

What is one Husker football/volleyball (technically any) game that you’ve never seen any footage/photos from that you’d like to see? (@marcus_scheer)

Brandon Vogel: I’ve seen photos from the game, but never any footage from the 1992 game against Kansas State in Tokyo. It’s something of a fascination of mine, and I’d really love to be able to just watch that game from start to finish. 

Mike Babcock: I’d like to see footage of the 1958 Iowa State game, just because it was one of the first games I attended. I remember nothing about it except Iowa State was known as the “Dirty Thirty” and ran the single-wing, with Dwight Nichols at tailback. Clay Stapleton was the coach, I think. Nebraska won 7-6.

Looks like a complete overhaul of the offensive line is in the works with transfers. Do we potentially see three or four new players starting on the o-line next season? (@Sal_Vasta3) 

Mike: New position coach, so there might be an overhaul, but I wouldn’t describe it as complete, with Nouredin Nouli, (hopefully a healthy) Teddy Prochazka and Turner Corcoran returning, as well as Bryce Benhart. Raiola has some experience to work with. It won’t be as if he’s starting from scratch. 

Jacob Padilla: I think four is probably pushing it, but three certainly seems within the realm of possibility. Nebraska offensively certainly needs to take a big step forward, and the best-case scenario is that a combination of internal development under Raiola and the addition of a transfer or two or three will result in the kind of line play they need. I don’t know that either of the transfers they’ve landed thus far are no-doubt starters; those guys are going to have to win a job in camp. But the more competition there is the better at this point, because Raiola has to identify five guys that can get the job done, which isn’t something Nebraska had consistently this past season. 

Steve Marik: Fresh eyes and a new voice can be good things, and Raiola will provide both to Nebraska’s o-line room. I think Nouredin Nouli has positioned himself well to grab a starting spot somewhere along the line, either at guard or center. I’m not ready to give up on Turner Corcoran or Bryce Benhart, either. I’m sure they’d be the first ones to tell you they didn’t play well last season—that’s obvious—but I think offensive tackle is one of the toughest offensive positions one can play, especially in the Big Ten, and it takes time and reps to become good at it. The two new transfers—Kevin Williams Jr., from Northern Colorado, and Hunter Anthony, from Oklahoma State—each have starting experience at their respective programs. Anthony was the opening-game starter for the Cowboys in 2020 before suffering a season-ending injury. Those are good additions for Raiola to work with, but like Jacob said, it’s all about competition right now. The o-line needs more of it to help determine who the best five are.

With more quarterbacks entering the transfer portal, does this staff continue to host and wait? Or do they have to have the guy(s) before semester starts? (@Sal_Vasta3) 

Brandon: I’m guessing Nebraska definitely wants a quarterback in the fold that could take part in spring football, and it’s probably fair to assume most QBs currently in the portal would want a spring to get into their new playbooks. So, I think we’ll see something happen before long. If that does happen, I wouldn’t rule out the Huskers still entertaining a second transfer there. There will be a second wave of names available after spring ball. 

Greg Smith: I don’t think they are waiting. This is a huge decision and made more complicated by the apparent desire to take two quarterbacks this offseason. I think we will see movement before the semester starts. It makes a lot of sense for everyone involved. 

What should our expectations be for Husker baseball this season? (@Sal_Vasta3) 

Mike: There’s justified optimism about a team that should be a factor in the Big Ten race. So the expectations should be high.  

Steve: Pretty high expectations, I’d say, at least in the conference. That’s a great coaching staff over there with a roster that lost some talent, but returns some good players, too.   

Greg: Compete to win the Big Ten. That’s a solid goal.

Who is the most underrated Husker female athlete that deserves more recognition? (@dmhusker1) 

Brandon: She’s a pretty familiar face so maybe she doesn’t fit the classic “underrated” definition, but I’m still amazed by what Kenzie Knuckles did in 2021. One, she’s a phenomenal athlete, which was easier to see with her attacking out of the back row this season. But, two, the fact that she only got to show that more fully because she essentially lost her libero gig (to the eventual National Freshman of the Year) tells you what kind of teammate she is.  

Jacob: Brandon gave a really good answer, and you can read more about Knuckles and her position switch here. 

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