Welcome to Cover Five, a weekly column diving into Husker football, the national college football scene and any overlooked details from the last week in Nebraska athletics.
1. Nebraska’s new ‘A Look N’ video series is worth a watch.
If you’re interested in getting a glimpse into a Nebraska football practice, look no further than the new ‘A Look N’ video series. The 31-minute episode, which debuted last Monday on Nebraska's YouTube channel, walks through the first few days of fall practice — and it’s as close as you can get to being on the field with the Huskers.
Cinematic shots of grass being mowed and equipment being prepared sets the scene, but it’s the practice footage, players’ thoughts and look into the locker room that should excite Husker fans.
Head coach Matt Rhule said on Tuesday that CJ Campbell, Nebraska’s director of football creative strategy and engagement, and director of football advancement Mike Wallace came up with the idea for the series. Putting the idea into motion meant a big opportunity for Jordan Litten, a student who works with the team as a creative media specialist.
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“J-Litt’s a student here at Nebraska, he’s unbelievable, I’ve never been around somebody like that; I trust him implicitly,” Rhule said Tuesday. “If you guys know me, I’m like, ‘Hey, I want to know what the show’s about, I want to know this. J-Litt, I said, do your thing, bro.’”
It’s a good sign when a head coach is eager to bring more exposure to the program rather than limiting it, and it’s also clear that Rhule is a big supporter of the project.
“I thought it was great and I thought it was fun,” Rhule said. “This next episode, I’m sure they’ll even here more behind the scenes stuff. We have to balance making sure our men feel comfortable that we’re not making them look bad, but there’s a lot of good things happening and I want our fans to be part of it.”
2. Opportunity knocks at wide receiver.
After several Husker wideouts missed a Tuesday practice, Rhule admitted that questions remain about Nebraska’s wide receiver situation.
“Of all the positions, that’s where the most questions are for us right now on offense,” Rhule said of WRs on Tuesday.
The situation hadn’t improved by Saturday, when Rhule confirmed that Zavier Betts left the team and that Marcus Washington remains unable to practice due to injury. As such, the head coach repeated the thoughts he’d just shared a few days earlier.
“Some guys are going to have to step up. Really at the end of the day, the receivers are probably the area we have the most question marks about,” Rhule said Saturday.
Rhule mentioned senior Josh Fleeks and freshmen Jaidyn Doss and Malachi Coleman as three players who could step up and fit what Nebraska needs at wide receiver. Another player who coaches have praised during fall camp is sophomore Alex Bullock, a sophomore walk-on whose brother John has also made waves in recent months.
3. Pac-12 leftovers Stanford and Cal linked to the ACC.
This is where we are in college athletics now — a conference dedicated to schools on the Atlantic coast is now looking to add teams from the Pacific coast.
It’s understandable from the ACC’s perspective given that they’ve watched the Big Ten, SEC and Big 12 all add desirable programs to their conferences in the last year. Additionally, two of the ACC’s biggest college football brands — Florida State and Clemson — spent much of the summer exploring how to break the conference’s media rights agreement that runs through 2036.
So when the ACC entered discussions about adding the likes of Stanford, California and even SMU, it wasn’t about expanding the scope of the conference — it’s about digging their heels in and refusing to budge. The Athletic reported on Friday that presidents from Florida State, Clemson, North Carolina and North Carolina State voted no on the proposal to add Stanford and Cal to the conference. If not for those four schools, the deal might've been completed by now.
We’ll see what happens with the Pac-12 leftovers, but ask yourself, is the ACC really the right fit for them?
4. A running back by committee approach seems likely.
The NFL continues to drift more toward RBBC (running back by committee) setups on offense and away from a traditional offense where a lead back handles 20-plus touches per game. Given the fact that Rhule, offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield and running backs coach EJ Barthel got a look at that trend during their time with the Carolina Panthers, they’re set to implement a similar rotation with Nebraska’s running backs.
It makes a lot of sense with what Nebraska’s backs have to offer. Anthony Grant is an adept runner between the tackles but might not have the stamina to play an entire drive — meaning opportunities for Gabe Ervin Jr. will be certain. Rahmir Johnson and Emmett Johnson also bring pass-catching skills to the room, with Satterfield confirming last week that an RBBC approach is likely.
"We’ve got a room full of really talented guys that do a lot of different things,” Satterfield said. “We don’t want to be one of those teams that have five running backs get two carries a game; we want some guys that have a role in the offense. It’s going to take more than one this year for us to be successful.”
5. Texas, Florida, Nebraska stand out in recruiting — but what about Georgia?
During the Big Ten Network’s preseason camp visit to Nebraska, Rhule clearly identified the areas of the country the Huskers have worked to recruit.
“We’ll go anywhere in the country but we want to be great at home, great in Texas and great down in Florida and Georgia,” Rhule told BTN.
Considering 15 of the 24 players currently committed to Nebraska’s 2024 recruiting class hail from those states, it’s clear that focus is paying off. But, what about Georgia? Nebraska landed defensive back Ethan Nation from Roswell, Georgia in its 2023 class but other Georgian prospects haven’t flocked to Nebraska just yet.
It’s worth keeping an eye on how that number changes in the next recruiting cycle or two.