Nebraska Football: Malcolm Hartzog is the story Huskers fans need now

Oct 1, 2022; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Nebraska football defensive back Malcolm Hartzog(Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports)
Oct 1, 2022; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Nebraska football defensive back Malcolm Hartzog(Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Nebraska football team has had a tough 2022 season, and so have the fans. That’s why the sudden arrival and emergence of Malcolm Hartzog is such a fun story. And the fact that at least so far, it’s a story that has some real teeth, why it’s the one that Husker fans need so badly.

The Nebraska football team has long been the stuff of legends. There’s always one player or another that becomes a fan favorite, year in and year out. Most of the time, it’s the star players like Adrian Martinez or Ameer Abdullah, or Devine Ozigbo. This year it’s been Anthony Grant and Casey Thompson for most of the year.

But Malcolm Hartzog is the story that Nebraska football fans need because he came out of nowhere. He’s someone who didn’t start off as the starter from the get-go. He seemingly battled his way into playing time, had himself one heck of a game, and now seems to have battled his way all the way into a starting job. Not because he’s a fan favorite, but because he earned it.

At this point, every Husker fan worth his salt knows that it was Hartzog that returned a blocked punt for a touchdown. But saying that he did that doesn’t tell the whole story. He returned a blocked punt for a touchdown to give his team a 14-7 lead not long after it had surrendered a 7-0 lead after Indiana scored a defensive touchdown off Chubba Purdy’s fumble.

That Hoosier touchdown had Nebraska football fans all over the country wondering if the wheels were about to come off. Instead, the Husker defense bowed up, and then the special teams unit came away with a big play.

After Hartzog made the big play, his teammates showed what appears to be a young man who was already popular with his fellow Huskers. He’s going to become quite popular with the fans quickly.

It wasn’t just that big play, either. Hartzog got his first start in his first season with the Nebraska football season and held his own for a secondary that has struggled mightily in 2022. According to PFF, the freshman from Mississippi scored a modest but positive 67 grade in pass coverage. A big part of that was that of the six passes that came in the direction, only one was hauled down by the targeted receiver. He had two pass breakups. In 70 snaps, he more than held his own to the point where he was named the Big Ten’s freshman of the week.

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Now it looks like the Nebraska football coaches are going to give him every chance to keep showing that he’s the story Husker fans, and really the entire Cornhusker team needs to cut through what has been such a steady stream of negative news so far this year.