March 17, 2017
Welcome, everybody, to another Fast Friday edition of the Carriker Chronicles, and I hope you're wearing your green today so you don't get your butt pinched! I gotta show you these shoes I'm wearing today, I kinda like them, they're kinda cool. I got these things about five years ago and I've worn them five times, once a year, I'll let you guess which day each year I wear them. Technically they are, I guess, Boston Celtics shoes, now I'm not so much of a fan of the Boston Celtics as I am just the shoes themselves, I probably like the Celtics more than the Lakers or the Yankees or Alabama! Anyways, Happy Saint Patrick's Day ... Aayyyye, me lucky charms! I don't think that sounded very good, let's move on to the quarterback battle, shall we?
I'm going to dive right into it and I talked about Tristan Gebbia and Andrew Bunch earlier this week. Today I'm going to focus on the top two contenders for this Nebraska quarterback battle. I'm going to start right off the top with Tanner Lee. Now, Tanner Lee has a very strong arm. In fact I heard a story of a few years ago where he was at one of these college quarterback camps where the top guys go. The guy who was running the camp was asked about Jared Goff who was there at the camp, the number one pick in the NFL draft a year ago, the former California quarterback about his arm strength. He was like, "yeah he has an amazingly strong arm," but he goes, "he doesn't have the strongest arm here, there's a kid from Tulane who has the strongest arm here." So arm strength is not an issue for Tanner Lee. I would say he has a little bit better pocket presence at the moment than Patrick O'Brien does and he's just got some of the intangibles. He's got experience, he has 18 starts and I think that's kind of carrying over. When he comes off the field after taking his reps with the offense, he'll be talking to the other guys. Kind of taking that leadership role, what can we improve, what do we need to do better the next time, so he's got those intangibles right now.
Now as far as Patrick O'Brien, from what I see he's got a little bit better touch on his passes, especially the deep balls. He's a little bit more fluid outside the pocket, whether it be a boot or a waggle, things of that nature, just a little more athletic. But the one thing I think he could work on at this point is his leadership role. He's a young guy, he's coming off the field and he's probably just thinking about what he's trying to better, what went wrong. That's just part of being a young guy, a freshman, and that's something that will improve over time throughout the rest of spring ball and fall camp as we move forward.
In my opinion, the things that are going to determine the winner of this quarterback battle are going to be accuracy, taking care of the football, and completion percentage. If you look at a year ago, last year we completed 50.3% of our passes on the year. That is 122nd out of 128 teams. Last year we also averaged 6.9 yards per pass attempt, that is 78th out of 128 Division I football teams. Now injuries did play a role in that but if you look at Mike Riley and his last ten years in Corvallis at Oregon State, he never had a quarterback who completed less than 56.2% of his passes, his last four years there, every quarterback he had there completed over 61.4% of their passes.
This isn't just on the quarterback, this involves the entire offense. This involves the offensive line protecting the quarterback, wide receivers making the catches, especially the passes their supposed to, you want to avoid those dreaded dropped passes. This is a legit quarterback competition.
Tanner Lee, in my opinion, has the edge right now and experience plays a factor in that. Patrick O'Brien's improvement from a year ago is very noticeable. A year ago during spring ball, he was an early enrollee, true freshman. He was a guy who could have been getting ready for prom, alright, and it showed a little bit. He wasn't ready, some people didn't like that he redshirted last year, he was not ready. He got beat out by Ryker Fyfe, he was fourth-string for a reason and he needed that year to grow and develop. His improvement is very noticeable and he has made this a legit quarterback battle.
You could argue at this point we already have two quarterbacks on our roster who are better suited for this offense than anybody we had eligible to play last year. For me, that's exciting! That's something to be excited about and that's just what my eyes tell me so far to this point.
Now, on Monday, I've been talking about it all week, we're going to play our Larry the Cable Guy interview that we did. It's a little on the long side, but I'm going to tell you it is worth it! He comes on the show, he's cracking jokes, he's in full Larry the Cable Guy mode, making us laugh. Then he goes behind the scenes, he tells us how he became a stand-up comedian. How he went from Dan Whitney to Larry the Cable Guy and he's a humongous Husker fan and we talk a ton of Huskers. He is very vocal about his opinion and I love that and I extremely enjoy talking with him. So look for that on Monday. We might have to break it into a couple parts, it's a little longer but it is definitely worth it!
So until Monday, Git 'r done! Check me out on Facebook and Twitter if you haven't done so already. Go Big Red and always remember to THROW THE BONES!