Nebraska Spring Potpourri: Reactions to baseball, basketball, and football

This month, there's plenty to talk about for Nebraska Cornhuskers fans both on and off the field in a ton of different sports.
Matt Rhule attends the Husker basketball game vs Purdue
Matt Rhule attends the Husker basketball game vs Purdue / Steven Branscombe/GettyImages

There's a lot to be excited about for the three major Nebraska Cornhusker men's sports this April. There are also some things that make you scratch your head (I'm mainly looking at you, Husker baseball).

Let's take a quick look at the latest for each program.

Nebraska Cornhuskers baseball is on the struggle bus, but the season isn't over yet

It's hard for sports fans who 1) didn't play baseball or 2) don't regularly watch the game to get a feel for how to observe, interpret, and feel about a baseball game or season.

Baseball is a weird game. Slumps happen. They're expected. It's strange if they don't happen. As a fan, you simply can't have a football or basketball mindset when watching baseball.

Baseball is a series game. Winning 2 out of 3 is a success. And in college, winning a weekend series matters more than winning a midweek game.

It's a game where being comfortable with failure is non-negotiable. Going 2-5 from the plate is a good day.

Then, sometimes, the ball just doesn't bounce your way. (Those two almost-homeruns on a very wind night against Creighton, anyone?)

But with only 56 games on the schedule, slumps can't last long. It's what separates the elite teams from the second class in college baseball. And boy, is Nebraska in a slump.

Right now, the Huskers sit at 25-12, losing six of their last nine. But they did take the series from Maryland this past week.

And yet, the RPI still loves the Huskers. They moved up one spot to #19 after their win on Sunday. How? That early-season SOS and being 11-6 on the road doesn't hurt.

The Huskers have 16 games left. To host a regional, they probably need 40 wins. That means they need to go 15-1. Let's be honest: that's (probably) not going to happen.

But can they make the tournament? Absolutely yes. But at least three things need to happen for them to get there.

Nebraska needs to start games more quickly on offense

Before Sunday, in the Huskers' previous three games (which included one win) the Huskers had to fight back from an early-inning deficit.

Starting slow is a recipe for disaster with a struggling bullpen. Coach Will Bolt has talked about being aggressive early in the game, but it hasn't been there. Thankfully, on Sunday, they jumped on Maryland 2-0 after the first inning. It needs to say like that from here on out.

Speaking of the bullpen, it needs to find the magic it had early in the year

Getting into an early hole is bad news for a bullpen struggling to get outs. But even when Nebraska has raced out to a lead, finishing has been a problem in the past month. Blow leads, blown saves, and being unable to keep the game within a run or two is killing Nebraska's chances at winning games it should win.

Pitching coach Robb Childress won't rest til it happens. Just this weekend, he took a chance on sophomore Jalen Worthley in a save opportunity against Maryland on Friday after senior Kyle Perry blew a save opportunity earlier in the week.

Nebraska needs timely hitting

The offense has been good for the most part--they're outpacing their opponents in nearly every category. But the hits aren't always coming at the right time.

How does that change? It's a mindset issue. Can you maintain focus for 7, 8, 9 innings? Baseball games are long and arduous. A test of your grit. Nebraska needs to show grit through timely hitting.

Nebraska showed Sunday they can execute on these three things. Can they do it for 16 more games?

Grading Nebraska Cornhuskers basketball's portal class

Nebraska basketball's amazing 2023-24 season felt like a deflating balloon when they lost six players to the transfer portal.

Of course, we don't know all the conversations that happened in those days after Nebraska lost to Texas A&M in the NCAA Tournament. Did Hoiberg suggest, ask, or tell a player to move on? Were the departures mutual? We'll never know. We don't need to know.

But in Fred we trust, right?

Coach Fred Hoiberg has done an incredible job of adding talent to the roster to keep momentum for the 2024-25 season.

Nebraska has four players committed to join the team next season: Andrew Morgan (NDSU, 6-10), Rollie Worster (Utah, 6-4), Gavin Griffiths (Rutgers, 6-8), and Connor Essegian (Wisconsin, 6-4).

As it stands, I give this transfer class a solid B+ grade. I think adding a rim protector is a must and will help Hoiberg even more. Rebounding and blocking shots were the two areas Nebraska really struggled in last season.

Look for Nebraska to go hard after Tarris Reed, Jr. (Michigan) or William Kyle III (SDSU), both of whom are more athletic versions of Josiah Allick.

Get one, or both, and that class grade shoots up to an A.

It's Nebraska football spring game week

Finally! The week of the Red-White game is here for Nebraska football. I'll be in the stadium with my whole family to get a first glimpse of the 2024 squad. Last year's game was miserably cold and wet. This Saturday's forecast?

Partly sunny and 77. Let's go!

Here are several questions I have ahead of Saturday:

1. How will the offensive line play (they will likely be without 2-3 starters?) Will they create holes in the running game? Will they be able to protect the QB?

2. How will the QBs look with a full spring under the leadership of Glenn Thomas?

3. How does the defense respond after a few butt-chewings this spring? How much quicker will they play and react in their second season in Tony White's system?

4. Which RB rises above the rest to take the early lead on the starting role heading into fall camp?

5. What will the new-look WR room be like? Can they make things easier for Nebraska's true freshmen QBs?

6. Will Troy Dannen ride into Memorial Stadium on a chopper a la Ted Carter in last year's game?

Only a week to find out.

There's a Nebraska Cornhuskers football game in Lincoln on Saturday. See you there. I can't wait.