May 25, 2024

Injuries mounting up on Huskers as they prepare for Boilermakers

Nebraska Cornhuskers Football

(Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

It’s no mystery that the injury bug has plagued Nebraska all season long.

Although bodies are rapidly dropping in Matt Rhule’s first campaign with the program, he’s doing an amazing job adjusting on the fly. The Huskers have dealt with injuries at nearly every position, but the players have embraced that next man up mentality. That’s why Nebraska has won four of its’ last five games.

Every week it seems like another productive player goes down, and not just for a couple of weeks, but for the entire season. No one on the team is prone to injury either. Quarterback Jeff Sims hasn’t played since the Colorado game because of an ankle injury.

The backfield got hit really hard by the injury bug too. Running back Gabe Ervin dislocated his hip and is out for the season, as well as Rhamir Johnson, with a dislocated shoulder. Wideout Marcus Washington tore his ACL at Illinois, and Billy Kemp went down with a lower leg injury against Northwestern. Not to mention offensive linemen Ethan Piper and Turner Corcoran suffered season-ending injuries against the Wildcats.

However, while those players are out, others are stepping up in their place and getting valuable experience. Rhule is getting to see his younger players in action, and what they can bring to the table. Quarterback Heinrich Haarberg is a perfect example. He’s filling in nicely during Sims’ absence, and has the Husker two wins away from bowl eligibility for the first time since 2016. Several players are stepping up just in time as the Huskers navigate through the Big Ten meat-grinder.

A reeling Purdue team will be invading Memorial Stadium Saturday, and Nebraska needs to take advantage. After all, both teams appear to be going in opposite directions midway through the season. The Boilermakers have lost four of their past five games, including two-straight. Just like Rhule, Ryan Walters is in his first season leading a Big Ten program.

Purdue generated 44 points in the victory over Illinois, but has struggled to score in every other game in Big Ten play. Defenses around the league are playing at a high level, including the Blackshirts. Walters’ squad will be walking into a hostile environment, and the Sea of Red gets loud.

Offensive Coordinator Graham Harrell likes to sling the ball around with gunslinger Hudson Card, but the Air Raid attack may be challenging, with the afternoon forecast in the mid 30’s and windy. Purdue (2-5) has won two-straight in the series, but it might be catching Nebraska at the wrong time. The Huskers are hungry and have motivation, despite the slew of injuries.

Rhule will be matching wits with the youngest coach in the conference, and experience might be the deciding factor. This clash will also be pivotal in the Big Ten West standings, because the loser will be out of the race, and the Boilermakers have no margin for error. Purdue is coming off a bye-week too. Walters and his staff had to watch Nebraska’s nail-biting win against Northwestern for scouting purposes. That’s going to make this matchup intriguing. Something has to give though.

With more players going down with injuries, and additional studs emerging from the shadows for Rhule, Big Red Nation should expect the unexpected from the Huskers, and their pursuit to bowl eligibility.