Jeff Sims is Nebraska’s starting quarterback if his left ankle injury allows him to play in Saturday’s home game against Northern Illinois.
Cornhuskers coach Matt Rhule said Sims is the program’s starting quarterback. The Monday declaration came despite Sims throwing four interceptions and losing two fumbles in two losses to open the 2023 season.
“Jeff is our starting quarterback,” Rhule said of Sims, who missed Sunday’s practice. “So if this hadn’t happened, he’d still be out there. That being said, we can’t keep turning the ball over. So there’s that fine line.”
Sims threw three interceptions in a 13-10 road loss at Minnesota on Aug. 31. He threw another pick and lost two fumbles during Saturday’s 36-14 loss at then-No. 22 Colorado.
The Cornhuskers committed eight turnovers in two games and are at minus-6 in the takeaway column.
“When you’re the quarterback, not everything is your fault,” Rhule said. “You snap the ball and hits a guy in motion — sometimes it’s the quarterback’s fault, sometimes it is someone else’s fault.
“This is from the top down, starting with me, we have to be better. We can’t be minus-8. That goes without saying.”
Sims has completed 20 of 34 passes for 220 yards and one touchdown in the two games. He has been solid on the ground, rushing for 158 yards, including a 57-yard score against Colorado.
But the Georgia Tech transfer has always had turnover issues. He committed 31 in three seasons with the Yellow Jackets (23 interceptions, eight fumbles) and his troubles have continued with the Cornhuskers.
Nebraska’s backup options are Heinrich Haarberg and Chubba Purdy. Haarberg went 2-for-6 passing with 13 yards and a touchdown against Colorado while Purdy came in for one play and threw an incompletion after Haarberg’s helmet came off and had to miss a play.
Purdy is the younger brother of Brock Purdy, the former Iowa State star who is making a name for himself as quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers.
Rhule said Purdy has been bothered by a groin injury.
Haarberg would likely start if Sims can’t play against Northern Illinois (1-1).
“I thought the moment wasn’t too big for him,” Rhule said of Haarberg’s cameo against Colorado. “What I loved about Heinrich is that three times they had a guy blitzing, hitting in him in the face and he stood in there and threw it — that’s the courage that we need. I thought he looked excellent running the ball, which we knew.”
–Field Level Media