The heart of Nebraska’s potential turnaround is buried in the trenches. A year after a hodge podge of coaches, scheme and vision, offensive line coach Donovan Raiola is emphasizing the line to move as a collective set of eyes. This has already instilled a pack mentality among the Husker pipeline.
One of those components, Nouredin Nouili, updated Jessica Coody on some of the developments within the team during a recent episode of Sports Nightly. He’s excited about the upcoming season. He comes off the most anticipated spring season of his life, having just returned to the field following his season-long suspension. Nouili issued a statement related to that suspension when meeting with media during the spring season. He shared how difficult and disappointed he was in himself for that situation. He told Coody about the difficulties.
“The away games were really hard because I couldn’t be around. But the home games, the practices, they kept me a part of it. They kept me there,” Nouili said. “I’m not going to lie, if I wasn’t there, I don’t think it would have went well. This is my life, this is what I want to do. The University of Nebraska gave me everything I need to succeed and this is what I want to do. Being around the team has helped a lot.”
Nouili practiced and participated in workouts with the team but was barred from competition. He watched those home games from the sidelines. Which, as unfortunate as it was, taught him more about the game. He learned more about the coach’s perspective and the sidelines allowed him to see the defense. He also learned more about Raiola by watching next to him.
The native German also thought the line improved as the season progressed. He said at least part of that could be attributed to the bond they began to build. Then came the Iowa win and an emotional crescendo of a wild season. He believes the line has built upon that momentum going into the spring and this upcoming season.
“We have a lot of talent and us as a brotherhood, we’ve done a good job of being together at all times,” he said. “Being one unit seeing through one set of eyes and I’m really excited for this year.”
He complimented spring arrivals Ben Scott, Jacob Hood and Gunner Gottula for how quickly they jumped into the brotherhood. They all worked their spring reps and quickly meshed into the offensive line. Nouili said they already know they move as one big herd. They see the standards set by the coaching staff and hold themselves to a higher standard. They want to stay coachable and hold each other accountable. “The trenches have to be the leaders of any team,” he said. So they have to set the standard in those avenues, as well as on the field.
“Even if you’re a new guy who just came here. He learns it quickly and they have brought it with them too because they know they have to be a part of it,” Nouili said. “Next to the new guys they’re learning technique and they’re frustrated sometimes. We tell them hey we were at the same point as you guys a year ago. It takes some time, yes, but the brotherhood keeps each other accountable.”
The former Norris Titan also complimented his practice foes on the defensive line. Nash Hutmacher, Ty Robinson, Cameron Lenhardt, Princewill Umanmielen and Kai Wallin all showed their potential in the spring season. “Coach White’s defense is a hard defense to play against, a very hard defense to play against,” Nouili said. He also complimented running backs coach EJ Barthel and the Huskers’ stable of backs like Rahmir Johnson, Gabe Ervin Jr., Anthony Grant and Emmitt Johnson. The senior also shared his excitement for the return of the fullback. They’re like the next offensive lineman, he reasoned. Having someone else on the team who wants to inflict hits on the opponent is someone that fits in with the line.
He’s also looking forward to this upcoming season because it’s his last. Forced to watch from the sidelines last year, he has just one final season to play football. And he’s not taking this one for granted.