Nebraska hasn’t had a winning season since it posted a 9-4 record under Mike Riley in 2016. It seems like ages ago. The Huskers last bowl appearance was the 2016 Music City Bowl.

Six straight losing seasons can add up fast. Frustration mounted under Scott Frost. It seemed as if things couldn’t get worse, until they did. Frost was fired after 3 games in 2022.

Mickey Joseph went 3-6 as the interim coach. Players competed hard, yet wins were few and far between. The Black Friday win over Iowa was a highlight. The 24-17 win ended the Hawkeyes’ 7-game win streak over NU.

With the hiring of Matt Rhule this past week as the Huskers’ new coach, optimism reigns supreme again in Lincoln. A new coach providing new hope. Rhule said he can turn things around, but it won’t be easy. It may take time. And it will take all fans bleeding red, pulling in the same direction to make it happen.

One of the 1st orders of business is to find good players. One way to do it is to scour the transfer portal. Rhule and his new-look staff will be busy in the coming weeks filling roster spots.

Let’s take a look at the 5 areas where Nebraska may look to hit the portal the hardest.

Offensive line

A pressing need for Rhule is to re-tool the offensive line. He says he wants to win the line of scrimmage; be a physical team. It starts up front. Nebraska was awful across the offensive line in 2022. Suspensions and a key injury thinned the unit, but the guys playing just didn’t get the job done.

Protecting the QB has to improve. Casey Thompson — whether he returns or not — took his share of punishment. Keeping the QB upright and giving him time to go through his progressions has to be better in 2023.

You can be sure Rhule will be on the hunt for 2-3 quality linemen who can step in and play immediately. He knows the B1G is a rugged league. Nebraska’s finesse style didn’t pan out. In order to compete, big uglies are a necessity. Ones who can move the pile and create running lanes for the backs.


At this point, the makeup of Nebraska’s roster moving forward is a crapshoot. Who knows how many players will hit the portal. Attrition is a forgone conclusion.

Another big area of need — especially when it comes to depth — is linebacker. Joseph commented about the need to build depth. Depth breeds competition. Nebraska didn’t have enough of it.

Injuries mounted as well. Nick Henrich was lost for the season during the Purdue game. Leading tackler Luke Reimer battled nagging injuries and sat out the Iowa game. Freshman Ernest Hausmann stepped in late and played well, but has now entered the portal. So Rhule will have to try to reel him back in and/or add others like him.

Rhule loves speed. He’ll be on the lookout for speedy, aggressive backers in the portal.


Even if Thompson returns, the Huskers need better options behind him. When forced to play without Thompson in the Minnesota and Michigan games, the offense sputtered under Chubba Purdy and Logan Smothers. Once again, depth is an issue, and Nebraska needs to address it.

It’s a guarantee there’ll be some big-name QBs in the portal looking for new homes. The Huskers will be on the prowl to snag someone to fit new OC Marcus Satterfield’s system.

Defensive line

Just as they do on the offensive side, the Huskers need some physical dudes on the defensive front. Ochaun Mathis hinted at heading to the NFL on social media. Ty Robinson and Garrett Nelson will likely return. But as is the norm, nothing is guaranteed.

Stephon Wynn Jr. transferred from Alabama. It would help if he returns. But Nebraska needs a run stopper or 2 up front. Guys who can clog the A-gap and disrupt the inside running game. It’s something that was missing under Frost.

Wide receiver

Trey Palmer was one of the best portal additions not only for Nebraska, but for any team in the country in 2022. But Palmer is off to the NFL and takes his 71 catches, 1,043 yards and 9 TDs with him. His production won’t be easy to replicate.

Rhule will be on the hunt for speed at receiver. It’s almost a no-brainer that Nebraska will take a couple guys in the portal here. Besides Palmer, the Huskers added Marcus Washington from Texas. Washington started 9 games and had 431 yards receiving. His return would bolster the room this spring.

Defensive back

Finding a corner to replace Quinton Newsome (should he leave) opposite of freshman Malcolm Hartzog will be a priority. Newsome has 1 year of eligibility remaining, but he’s unsure if he’ll use it. Newsome played over 800 snaps this past season and was the team-leader for NU in that area.

Arizona State transfer Tommi Hill started at corner, but early-season struggles convinced the staff to move him to receiver. Nebraska was thinned out on the back end. Building more depth is a must.

Finding a solid cover corner and a physical safety who can play in run support would be a huge boost to the defense.