Tanner Lee Gets First Shot At Retooling The Nebraska Cornhuskers Offense
- 17th Jul 2017
- Lyle Harrison
Last Updated: 2017-08-30
Barring some unforeseen circumstances, the Nebraska Cornhuskers will start Tanner Lee at quarterback. The Tulane Green Wave transfer spent two seasons in the American Athletic Conference. In 19 games, Lee threw for 3,601 yards and 23 touchdown passes. He also had 21 interceptions during his time with the Green Wave. Lee also completed 53 percent of his passes. However, expectations are for Lee to flourish with the Huskers in the Big Ten.
During the Manning Passing Academy a few weeks ago, Lee was a standout prospect. Even with quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson and Sam Darnold in attendance, Lee was a favorite of Reese’s Senior Bowl Scout Patrick Woo.
But what does that mean for the Huskers in 2017? After redshirting for a season, Lee beat out Patrick O’Brien for the starting job in spring practice. At 6-foot-4 205 pounds, Lee is a solid quarterback with great physical attributes. Unlike Tommy Armstrong Jr. and prior quarterbacks, Lee is not known to be a duel-threat QB. In fact, he has -287 rushing yards in college. Therefore, the Huskers really plan on transforming into a passing team.
That’s been the goal of third-year head coach Mike Riley all along. Riley is (15-11) as the Huskers’ head coach and led the team to a (9-4) record last season. Unfortunately, the passing game crumbled during the most critical times. Furthermore, the Huskers lost a lot of their grit in the ground attack with Riley. Therefore, the entire Huskers’ offense is an unknown coming into the season.
For example, they ran 71 plays per game last season. The Huskers threw the ball around 31 times per game. They also only completed 50 percent of their passes during the season. That’s worse than what Lee accomplished with Tulane. However, Armstrong averaged 7.4 yards per attempt. Lee never surpassed six yards per attempt with the Green Wave, so he has a lot to prove in game situations.
It’s hard to tell if the hype is real, or if it’s contrived to make the Huskers a bigger factor in the preseason. The offense averaged 26.5 points per game in 2016. However, they scored over 32 points per game in Riley’s first season. Therefore, if Lee is all that he’s presumed to be, the Huskers will score over 30 points per game. Still, that doesn’t seem like something crazy. Last season, 58 teams averaged at least 30 points. The Huskers were No. 79 in scoring offense.
Lee is the first quarterback recruited by the current coaching staff, so the offense should reach new heights. The offense will have pressure to reach new heights. In turn, the first couple games of the season can make or break Lee’s season. In Week 2, the Huskers travel to Eugene, OR to take on the Oregon Ducks. That’s an interesting place to make your first start as a Huskers’ quarterback.