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Jeff Sims Nebraska

Should Nebraska Worry About Jeff Sims’ Week 1 Struggles?

  • Justin Melo
  • September 1, 2023
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Nebraska quarterback Jeff Sims struggled mightily throughout Thursday’s 13-10 loss to Minnesota. Sims completed 11-of-19 passing attempts for 114 yards, one touchdown, and three costly interceptions. It’s too early to ring the alarm, but it’ll be worth monitoring Sims’ performance against Colorado in Week 2.

A dual-threat playmaker, Sims added 91 rushing yards, but only averaged 4.8 yards via 19 carries. Sims was also sacked on three occasions by a suffocating Golden Gophers defense. He never looked comfortable during what was his highly-anticipated Cornhuskers debut.

Sims arrived in Lincoln to much fanfare via the transfer portal. Previously at Georgia Tech, Sims threw for close to 4,500 yards with 30 touchdowns across three seasons. The Jacksonville, Florida native added 1,152 rushing yards and 11 scores to his offensive totals. Sims replaced last year’s starter Casey Thompson, who transferred to Florida Atlantic.

New offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield is tasked with building his offense around Sims. That appeared to be a serious work in progress on Thursday. The Cornhuskers gained just 295 total yards of offense and turned over the ball four times.

Most of the concern surrounding Sims’ arrival in Nebraska was based on availability. Sims appeared in just 15 regular-season contests over the previous two seasons due to injury. His performance ceiling never really came into question, but that may change following Thursday’s lackluster showing.

The good news for Sims is that Nebraska’s schedule is about to lighten up. Minnesota was always a difficult Week 1 opponent, even if Sims’ struggles were worse than initially feared. Nebraska will be favorites in their next three contests against Colorado, Northern Illinois, and Louisiana Tech. Those three opponents represent potential bounce-back opportunities for Sims to build confidence.

The toughest stretch of Nebraska’s schedule will soon follow, however. Back-to-back brawls against Michigan (at home) and Illinois (on the road) loom especially large. Those dates with Nebraska’s Big Ten rivals may provide the real litmus test to measure Sims’ progress for the Cornhuskers. Performances against stiff competition like Michigan and Illinois always hold weight.

Sims’ chemistry with his top targets remains an ongoing operation. Nebraska’s new go-to receiver is Marcus Washington, who replaced the outgoing Trey Palmer, who caught 71 passes and nine of Nebraska’s 17 touchdown passes last season. Washington caught a modest three passes for 31 yards against Minnesota. Sims and Washington should have better days.

Sixth-year senior Billy Kemp, who transferred in from Virginia, and the inexperienced Malachi Coleman are expected to round out the receiver room. Tight end Arik Gilbert, who transferred in from Georgia, didn’t play versus Minnesota after being arrested on alleged burglary charges. Difficulties continue to circle Sims’ acclimation.

Head coach Matt Rhule returned to Lincoln in an attempt to restore prominence to a traditional blueblood program that’s been faltering for quite some time. Rhule requires time to build out his vision after previously enjoying triumph at Nebraska. Sims’ outputs are crucial to Rhule’s first-year success (or failure). Sims disappointed versus Minnesota, but better performances should soon follow.

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Justin Melo