The 2022 season is one Nebraska fans would just as soon forget. The Huskers finished a rough campaign with a 24-17 win over Iowa Friday. Despite a 4-8 season, Nebraska was able to end a 7-game skid to its rivals to the east.

However, a season that started poorly, with a disappointing 31-28 loss to Northwestern in Dublin in August under Scott Frost, didn’t improve much under interim coach Mickey Joseph over the final 9 games.

Matt Rhule, revealed Saturday as Frost’s permanent replacement, has a mess to clean up.

It’s arguably the biggest offseason in Nebraska football history. New coach. New direction. The program is teetering on the brink of being irrelevant. It will take a lot of heavy lifting by the incoming staff to get things headed in the right direction.

Let’s take a look at 10 key takeaways from Nebraska’s season.

1) Scott Frost should’ve never been retained after 2021

Athletic Director Trev Alberts did the noble thing, extending Frost a lifeline after last year’s 3-9 debacle. Frost is a Huskers legend, quarterbacking the 1997 team to a share of the national title.

But after 4 middling seasons, it was quite apparent things weren’t going to work out for Frost at his alma mater. Recruiting was slipping, and play on the field was sloppy and undisciplined. It wasn’t likely to change, regardless of the fact Frost brought in several new assistant coaches.

Thankfully, Mickey Joseph was hired as receivers coach and built strong relationships with the players. After Joseph took over following the loss to Georgia Southern, the team continued to play hard and compete. It just wasn’t enough.  There were too many holes to fill. Too much dysfunction over 4 years to overcome in mere weeks.

It was an admirable job by Joseph, but it was clearly apparent Frost left the program in shambles.

2) Portal guys saved NU from a worse fate

Had Nebraska not landed Casey Thompson, Anthony Grant and Trey Palmer in the transfer portal during the offseason, there’s no telling how bad it would’ve been. And yes, it was bad.

Thompson came in from Texas and performed admirably behind a terrible offensive line. Grant, the New Mexico Military Institute transfer, led the way at running back. Palmer set several receiving records after coming to NU from LSU.

If not for this trio, I’m not sure where the Huskers offense would’ve come from.

3) Joseph should be retained in some capacity

With the head coaching decision having been made, it goes without saying that Joseph needs to be retained. Whether it be as associate head coach/receivers coach, whatever, he is an important piece of the puzzle.

Joseph knows how to recruit. He builds strong relationships with players. He’s no-nonsense. Nebraska could use his steady hand as it navigates the transition to Rhule.

4) Offensive line needs immediate upgrades

It goes without saying, the offensive line was a unit that didn’t live up to expectations. Not even close.

Nebraska must scour the portal to find guys who can play up front. It’s likely the unit will have a new position coach. Someone who must adapt to the rigors of the Big Ten. Teach physicality and technique. They must protect the quarterback better.

Thompson took a beating this year. The O-line wasn’t up to the task to protect him. They allowed too many sacks, hits, etc. The running game slowed to a crawl once October hit. Without a serviceable offensive line, whomever coaches the Huskers next fall will face a burdensome task.

5) Trey Palmer is the real deal

In a year of negatives, Palmer’s production stuck out as one of the positives. His game against Purdue was one of the best any receiver in the country put on paper. His effort Friday against Iowa was just as impressive.

Palmer’s 7 catchers for 237 yards against the Boilermakers on Oct. 15 set the NU record for receiving yards in a game. He set the single-season record for receiving yards by a Nebraska receiver with his 165-yard performance against the Hawkeyes Friday.

Palmer made an instant impact on Nebraska’s offense and was one of the most reliable Huskers on a week-to-week basis.

6) Recruiting has dropped off

Fans who watched all 12 of Nebraska’s games can’t argue the fact that the talent level is down. All across the board, Nebraska is missing Big Ten-caliber dudes.

It boils down to recruiting. Frost failed in this area. He missed on player evaluation and player development. Depth across the board isn’t good. Injuries at certain positions (QB, LB) showed how glaring the lack of depth was.

If the Huskers want to crawl back into contention in the West, it starts with recruiting. They need more talent. They need to build depth. Depth allows for more competition at positions. It’s something that’s been missing, and 2022 shined a spotlight on it.

7) 2 freshmen provide youth to build around on defense

Ernest Hausmann and Malcolm Hartzog are a pair of talented freshmen who made an impact on the defense during the latter half of the season.

Hausmann filled in at linebacker following Nick Henrich’s season-ending injury at Purdue. He immediately made an impact, especially against the run-heavy teams of the West. He had back-to-back double-digit tackles in games against Michigan and Wisconsin, while looking more and more comfortable each week.

Hartzog got the call at corner early in the conference season. Since appearing in the lineup regularly against Rutgers Oct. 7, Hartzog tallied at least 3 tackles per game and snagged 3 interceptions. He’ll only gain confidence as he gets more experience.

8) New staff must adapt to the B1G

Let’s face it. The B1G was NOT forced to adjust to Scott Frost’s or Mike Riley’s pass-first offenses. Nebraska’s new coach has to understand this is a physical, grind-it-out league. You need a mean offensive line and a ground game to succeed consistently. Something Nebraska hasn’t had in quite some time.

It starts with recruiting. The Huskers must change their approach. Get mean, tough dudes up front. Re-commit to running the football. Go back to their roots if you will. Until that happens, Nebraska will be swimming up stream — especially in this league.

9) Special teams trending upward

Another bright spot in Lincoln was an improved special teams unit. Bill Busch came in to coach the unit, and his presence helped.

So did the addition of Timmy Bleekrode (Furman) and Brian Buschini (Montana) at place kicker and punter respectively. Buschini averaged over 44 yards per punt, while Bleekrode made 80% of his field goals.

Two areas that were much-improved for the Huskers in 2022.

10) Matt Rhule has a ton of heavy lifting to do

Nebraska’s program is in as bad of shape as it has ever been. Plain and simple, the job is a major reclamation project. Turning things around quick won’t be easy.

But in this day and age of college football, anything’s possible. The transfer portal allows for teams to fill holes easier than ever before. Nebraska has a lot of them to fill. The “name recognition” Nebraska used to bring to the table, is all but gone these days.

It’s a sad state of affairs in Lincoln. Long time observers can’t believe how low the program has sunk. Alberts has the money to not only pay new coach Matt Rhule well, but pour into the assistant coach pool also. Getting the hires right is the 1st step. If that happens, Nebraska can climb back to relevance.

Rhule has performed reclamations at Temple and Baylor. Despite his rough go in the NFL, he might be the right man for the job.