Nebraska football: Huskers will face former teammate Noah Vedral in season finale if he's healthy enough
Rutgers quarterback Noah Vedral got dinged up last week against Maryland, and his status for this Friday’s game against Nebraska is unclear. But if he does play, what a storyline it would be.
Last May, it became clear that Vedral didn’t fit in Scott Frost’s plans at quarterback. With a 2-year starter coming back in junior Adrian Martinez, plus young and exciting prospects in redshirt freshman Luke McCaffrey and freshman Logan Smothers, Nebraska seemed set for the future at the position.
Simply looking for an opportunity to start, Vedral packed his bags and went to Piscataway, where Greg Schiano was looking for a quarterback to lead his offense in his return to Rutgers.
That was the situation then, but this where it stands now: Martinez and McCaffrey don’t look like Division I passers. And we don’t know yet about Smothers, the 4-star out of Muscle Shoals, Ala., because he simply hasn’t seen the field. Frost once thought he had 2 good options at quarterback. Now, it seems like he has none.
Martinez and McCaffrey are a combined 132-of-208 for 1,266 yards with 4 touchdowns and 7 interceptions — McCaffrey has 6 of them. The downfield pass has been nonexistent at Nebraska. In an offense full of swing passes and shallow completions, Huskers quarterbacks are completing 65.7 percent of their attempts, which is pretty good and ranks 3rd in the B1G, but they’re 11th in yards per attempt at 6.3 — that’s the not-so-good part.
Meanwhile at Rutgers, offensive coordinator Sean Gleason has injected life into an offense that ranked 129th in the nation in scoring (13.3) last year, turning it into a respectable bunch this season. With Vedral at the helm, the Scarlet Knights are 6th in the B1G in scoring at 27.4 points per game.
Although Vedral as been turnover prone — he has 9 touchdown passes and 8 interceptions — and has a lower yards-per-attempt than the Nebraska quarterbacks at 5.6, he’s helped turn Rutgers into a tough out. His highlight of the season may have been against Michigan, where he passed for 381 yards and 3 touchdowns while sending the game into overtime with a late scoring pass, then barreled into the end zone on a Martinez-like planned quarterback run for the 2-point conversion.
Noah Vedral balled out and nearly beat Michigan.
29/43, 381 yards, 3 TDs, big plays in big moments. pic.twitter.com/lMI6ZQQZvY
— Derek Peterson (@DrPeteyHV) November 22, 2020
What an effort this was by Rutgers QB Noah Vedral on the game-tying two-point conversion with 27 seconds left against Michigan. pic.twitter.com/E38yjSZSAZ
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) November 22, 2020
Yes, Rutgers wound up losing that game, but it was good for the program to put a scare into a Jim Harbuagh-led team that had beat it by an average score of 51-7 from 2015-19.
Vedral’s passing numbers aren’t great, but were they realistically ever going to be? Let’s be honest: it was never going to look pretty because Vedral was brought in to be the quarterback of a program looking to rebuild itself … looking to climb out of the cellar in the B1G and not be a punching bag anymore.
We’ll see if it’s sustained, but right now it looks like Schiano has the program headed in the right direction. The rebuild is under construction and recruits are taking notice, too, as the Scarlet Knights are set to sign 2 4-star high school prospects after not getting any since the 2017 class.
Vedral signed with Frost and UCF after starring as a multi-sport athlete for Bishop Neumann High School in Wahoo, then followed his head coach to Lincoln when he got hired. Frost was the one who gave Vedral a shot to play, and there’s no bitterness between the two former small-town Nebraska high school quarterbacks.
College football is more of a business than anything, though, and Vedral just wanted a chance to be a starting quarterback. But now he’s facing his old team, his old coach, and you better believe he has a sizable chip on his shoulder.
Vedral wants to beat Nebraska, and deep down, he probably wants to prove Frost wrong. There’s not a lot at stake for the Huskers in Friday afternoon’s matchup. But there’s one heck of a storyline if the kid from Wahoo, Neb., is on the field.