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***The 2022 Offensive Line***


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What we know: Offensive line will look really different.

Just like every other position on the offense besides tight end, Nebraska's offensive line has a new leader in coach Donovan Raiola. Raiola brings with him NFL experience, a fresh perspective and has a lot of work ahead of him to revamp one of the Huskers' worst position groups in 2021.

 

The offensive line will also have a new leader on the field as four-year starting center Cam Jurgens declared for the 2022 NFL draft. Matt Sichterman, who held down the right guard job, has graduated as well.  Head Coach Scott Frost announced tackles Teddy Prochazka and Turner Corcoran will miss spring camp.

 

Frost brought in Raiola to transform this offensive line and put a much better unit on the field. The Huskers added transfers Hunter Anthony and Kevin Williams Jr. along with freshman Justin Evans-Jenkins to help bolster the group.

The bottom line is the offensive line will look different with Raiola this spring, and there are plenty of questions surrounding this group heading into 2022.

 

Biggest Question: Who will make up the interior line?

Nebraska lost the most on the interior line. Jurgens and Sitcherman were the two most consistent players on the line as they both started each game at their respective positions.  Nouri Nouili emerged as the left guard starter after the Huskers started Ethan Piper for the first three games and Trent Hixson for the two games after. Nouili allowed five pressures in 473 snaps, according to PFF. The Colorado State transfer will definitely be at the top of the list for a starting guard position.

 

Spring Darkhorse: Henry Lutovsky  

Henry Lutovsky became the 17th lineman at Nebraska to play in a game as a true freshman in 2021. Nebraska coaches are high on Lutovsky and he has a chance to be in the two-deep at right guard this fall.

 

The 6-foot-6, 330-pound lineman saw action against Fordham and Northwestern at left guard. Lutovsky played seven snaps during the season, both in garbage time, and didn't allow a quarterback pressure.

 

Lutovsky played six snaps against the Wildcats and scored well according to PFF's grades. He had a 74.4 offense grade, a 73.8 on run block and a 67.3 pass block grade. In his limited time, Lutovsky had the second-highest run block grade on the team.

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ST play must get better for sure and most agree that better ST play would have turned a couple close losses into close wins in more than one of the past four seasons under Frost. 
But, I am not so certain that marginal improvement in STs next year will translate into one, two or even three more wins.  That will be contingent upon getting at least equivalent or better play on defense and something close to comparable offensive play as well.  Neither is anywhere near a sure thing at this point.  

I still remain hopeful that the O line will make some changes for the better in scheme and technique etc from the Frost/Austin system to a Whipple Raiola approach.  Hopefully it includes at least some more power run methods giving our linemen a chance to open holes and move the line of scrimmage fwd and not just get in the way or whatever scheme Frost was trying to use before.  We have size but never see any real attack or push fwd which I interpret as design not capacity.  I don’t see a whole bunch of talent drop off nor much hope for improvement so it’s got to come from scheme and play calls etc.  

The rest of the offense could be better across the QBs, RBs and WRs no matter whether new or returning guys fill in.  

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Really looking forward to seeing Raiola work with Williams and Hunter.  Both are older guys with experience, which is really good for an O-Line.  With a few key guys out this spring, I really think they will take advantage this spring.  Williams was even a captain before.  So I am excited and encouraged about these guys (and Lutovsky & Nouilli)

 

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27 minutes ago, admo said:

Really looking forward to seeing Raiola work with Williams and Hunter.  Both are older guys with experience, which is really good for an O-Line.  With a few key guys out this spring, I really think they will take advantage this spring.  Williams was even a captain before.  So I am excited and encouraged about these guys (and Lutovsky & Nouilli)

 

I agree.  We have had the talent as evidenced by the recruit rankings.  We still have that talent now.  The O staff before was found lacking.  I am hoping that this staff can get some immediate by in next week and getting great at a few things and build from there.  Read somewhere that Whip installs the play book over the spring/fall and then add specifics for what he sees on game film of upcoming opponents.  Builds the O around the playmakers.  Hoping that he coaches what we have and not what he wants.  

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2 hours ago, lo country said:

I agree.  We have had the talent as evidenced by the recruit rankings.  We still have that talent now.  The O staff before was found lacking.  I am hoping that this staff can get some immediate by in next week and getting great at a few things and build from there.  Read somewhere that Whip installs the play book over the spring/fall and then add specifics for what he sees on game film of upcoming opponents.  Builds the O around the playmakers.  Hoping that he coaches what we have and not what he wants.  

How do you know what he wants is not a good thing?   Presumably he wants to win and will coach accordingly and try to find something for his offense to do to score more points.  We need 32 a game to get to a decent season.

 

 The defense can probably keep opponents in the mid 20s if the STs will just be decent (middle of Big Ten in coverages and returns and top three in punts and placekicking.   We need to improve field position about 6 yards per punt and punt returns and keep opponents inside their 25 on ave in KOs.  Geta couple blocked kicks and couple TDs in returns ideally in games we must win.   

Finally we need to improve possession time about 3 minutes a game and 3-5 more first downs a game will do that.  That comes with better run game production which is derived from blocking and situational play calling. 

I expect the passing game to be similar or a bit better statistically and more receivers getting more involved every game.  I think Whipple will want more guys and less dependency and targeting of just one or two guys each week. 
 

I also expect we will give RBs more carries to get in a rhythm and flow.  We will have some two back sets and use them as such more often. I don’t expect the pass/run ratio to change much but we will have more rushing yards per game. 

All this is provided Frost let’s Whipple have some degree of influence / control over game plans and play calls, and provided  O line MUST get more consistent and win the line of scrimmage in over half our games.  This is quite possible but maybe not probable.   I’d focus heavily on trying to win the most winnable and not worry so much on the toughies (OU, Mich etc).  Get to a bowl and win it !!   That’s got to be the team goal and season plan.  Anything over that is bonus stuff.  Win 6 then build for next season in depth and game reps for young players.   The long term 2023 and 2024 is to get - 8 to 10 wins and win the big ten west.   Coach for the future, not just the next week. 

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1 hour ago, 84HuskerLaw said:

How do you know what he wants is not a good thing?   Presumably he wants to win and will coach accordingly and try to find something for his offense to do to score more points.  We need 32 a game to get to a decent season.

 

 The defense can probably keep opponents in the mid 20s if the STs will just be decent (middle of Big Ten in coverages and returns and top three in punts and placekicking.   We need to improve field position about 6 yards per punt and punt returns and keep opponents inside their 25 on ave in KOs.  Geta couple blocked kicks and couple TDs in returns ideally in games we must win.   

Finally we need to improve possession time about 3 minutes a game and 3-5 more first downs a game will do that.  That comes with better run game production which is derived from blocking and situational play calling. 

I expect the passing game to be similar or a bit better statistically and more receivers getting more involved every game.  I think Whipple will want more guys and less dependency and targeting of just one or two guys each week. 
 

I also expect we will give RBs more carries to get in a rhythm and flow.  We will have some two back sets and use them as such more often. I don’t expect the pass/run ratio to change much but we will have more rushing yards per game. 

All this is provided Frost let’s Whipple have some degree of influence / control over game plans and play calls, and provided  O line MUST get more consistent and win the line of scrimmage in over half our games.  This is quite possible but maybe not probable.   I’d focus heavily on trying to win the most winnable and not worry so much on the toughies (OU, Mich etc).  Get to a bowl and win it !!   That’s got to be the team goal and season plan.  Anything over that is bonus stuff.  Win 6 then build for next season in depth and game reps for young players.   The long term 2023 and 2024 is to get - 8 to 10 wins and win the big ten west.   Coach for the future, not just the next week. 

I should clarify that it seems for years, and not just under Frost, we have repeatedly looked like our O was basically "square peg meet round hole".  I am hoping that with all of Whip's coaching stops and spots, he will have a great idea of what we have and how best to use that.  In more recent years, using Wan'dale as a RB was a horrible idea. I blame that fact that we had no ready RB (hence Held being let go), AM being our lead rusher for maybe 3 of his 4 years, etc....

 

I think we actually see more ebb and flow to our offensive play calling.  So long as Whip is actually the OC. I can't imagine him coming to NU to simply be a figure head.  Or Frost being on the razor's edge of being let go and saying screw it, I'm going to do the exact same thing I have the past 4 years.  I also imagine that we actually use or TE's in the red zone.  Have receivers that run proper routes and RB's who can actually bang and get yards.  

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4 minutes ago, lo country said:

I should clarify that it seems for years, and not just under Frost, we have repeatedly looked like our O was basically "square peg meet round hole".  I am hoping that with all of Whip's coaching stops and spots, he will have a great idea of what we have and how best to use that.  In more recent years, using Wan'dale as a RB was a horrible idea. I blame that fact that we had no ready RB (hence Held being let go), AM being our lead rusher for maybe 3 of his 4 years, etc....

 

I think we actually see more ebb and flow to our offensive play calling.  So long as Whip is actually the OC. I can't imagine him coming to NU to simply be a figure head.  Or Frost being on the razor's edge of being let go and saying screw it, I'm going to do the exact same thing I have the past 4 years.  I also imagine that we actually use or TE's in the red zone.  Have receivers that run proper routes and RB's who can actually bang and get yards.  

I think your "square peg meet round hole" is way off base 

 

We obviously need better red zone efficiency but Frost's offense has been productive from many offensive category standpoints 

 

But I also know you complain about all playcallers in Nebraska recent history including Osborne 

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Of the new assistants, Donovan Raiola’s impact is the most crucial.

Quarterback will always be the most important position on a football team. It’s hard to say anything different when that position has the ball in its hands and is making decisions with it on nearly every play of a game. That being said, the offensive line’s development under Raiola will have a major impact on how successful the Whipple-Frost offense is in its first season.

According to the Action Network, Nebraska returns 81.83% of its o-line snaps (transfers are included, so it’s taking into account what Hunter Anthony did at Oklahoma State and Kevin Williams Jr. at Northern Colorado), which is 11th in the nation and the most in the Big Ten, just in front of Maryland’s 81.72%. While that percentage looks good on paper, there’s still so much uncertainty along the unit that last season ranked 104th and 115th in standard-downs sack rate and passing-downs sack rate, respectively, according to Football Outsiders. 

Raiola will go through spring practice without two potential starters in Turner Corcoran and Teddy Prochazka, who are both out while rehabbing injuries. There’s also not a clear answer on who will replace Jurgens at center, the most important position on the line, but one name thrown around was the 6-foot-6 Corcoran.

“Turner’s a guy I think is probably capable of playing all five positions if we needed him to,” Frost said on Feb. 2. “He did a great job at left tackle, looked great at right tackle when we moved him over when Teddy played. Teddy and Turner are both gonna miss spring with injuries. So they’re around and learning and able to do some things, but again, that’s going to help some other guys get reps. And Turner in particular, we’re probably going to have to figure out where he fits the best.”

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1 hour ago, TheSker said:

I think your "square peg meet round hole" is way off base 

 

We obviously need better red zone efficiency but Frost's offense has been productive from many offensive category standpoints 

 

But I also know you complain about all playcallers in Nebraska recent history including Osborne 

True.  And I won't deny it.  Although, with TO it was when we lost like 8 straight bowl games.  And only during the bowl games.  He was a genius.  And 25 years later we are still looking for the next one.

 

His offense has been decent statistically, but where it matters.  That would be the win column.  

 

We do misuse talent.  And it shows in the W-L column.  Could also be lack of development.

 

 

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26 minutes ago, suh_fan93 said:

 

Of the new assistants, Donovan Raiola’s impact is the most crucial.

Quarterback will always be the most important position on a football team. It’s hard to say anything different when that position has the ball in its hands and is making decisions with it on nearly every play of a game. That being said, the offensive line’s development under Raiola will have a major impact on how successful the Whipple-Frost offense is in its first season.

According to the Action Network, Nebraska returns 81.83% of its o-line snaps (transfers are included, so it’s taking into account what Hunter Anthony did at Oklahoma State and Kevin Williams Jr. at Northern Colorado), which is 11th in the nation and the most in the Big Ten, just in front of Maryland’s 81.72%. While that percentage looks good on paper, there’s still so much uncertainty along the unit that last season ranked 104th and 115th in standard-downs sack rate and passing-downs sack rate, respectively, according to Football Outsiders. 

Raiola will go through spring practice without two potential starters in Turner Corcoran and Teddy Prochazka, who are both out while rehabbing injuries. There’s also not a clear answer on who will replace Jurgens at center, the most important position on the line, but one name thrown around was the 6-foot-6 Corcoran.

“Turner’s a guy I think is probably capable of playing all five positions if we needed him to,” Frost said on Feb. 2. “He did a great job at left tackle, looked great at right tackle when we moved him over when Teddy played. Teddy and Turner are both gonna miss spring with injuries. So they’re around and learning and able to do some things, but again, that’s going to help some other guys get reps. And Turner in particular, we’re probably going to have to figure out where he fits the best.”

Can't lie.  Looking forward to practice starting.  Assuming not a lot of news will come out, but I'm sure we will hear somethings.  Raiola has the toughest job IMO.  

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13 minutes ago, lo country said:

True.  And I won't deny it.  Although, with TO it was when we lost like 8 straight bowl games.  And only during the bowl games.  He was a genius.  And 25 years later we are still looking for the next one.

 

His offense has been decent statistically, but where it matters.  That would be the win column.  

 

We do misuse talent.  And it shows in the W-L column.  Could also be lack of development.

 

 

We have lacked development.

 

"Misusing" talent is an armchair quarterback statement 

 

There are three men who are very complimentary of Frost's play design.....Mark Whipple, Mickey Joseph and Urban Meyer 

 

I like the philosophy Donovan Raiola brings to the table too.

 

We'll be in good shape going forward 

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