Let’s talk about Tanner Lee, shall we?
No one seems to be talking about the Nebraska quarterback, so I figured I better mention something about him before Saturday. I’m kidding, of course.
I received a question for this week’s Land of 10 Nebraska football mailbag that I thought I’d hold out. Turner, a Land of 10 reader, emailed me this question:
I was wondering about Tanner Lee’s legs and ability to run. A lot has been made of this arm strength and his ability to throw, but almost nothing about any running ability. Do you see Riley and Co. incorporating any QB run plays or option/zone read types?
It’s a great question. There’s a reason a lot more has been made of Lee’s arm strength. He has a strong arm, after all. He’s also a quick-throwing passer and the perfect fit for coach Mike Riley’s preferred pro-style offense.
I’m not saying Lee can’t run, because I’m sure he can. I don’t think he has Tommy Armstrong’s legs, though, so I don’t think you’ll see him running often. In some instances, though? I wouldn’t rule it out.
In fact, the mention of the option/zone read is interesting. If Nebraska is in the red zone on the 15-yard line and the defense presents a good opportunity for Lee, why not give him the option to keep the ball and run it? I don’t see why Riley wouldn’t give him that chance.
However, the situation would have to be right. We don’t know what Nebraska’s offensive line is really going to look like this fall. Lee needs the line to be good, and Riley and offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf have said they plan to help out the line. That will include screens, draws and quick pass plays.
I’ve heard Lee say he’ll run if he has to. He’d prefer to throw, and that’s understandable. His rushing stats at Tulane are a sight to see, but you can blame the Tulane offensive line for that. He was sacked 42 times in his two seasons at the helm of the Green Wave’s offense. Considering the NCAA subtracts sack yardage from individual rushing totals, his rushing stats (minus-287 yards) are a bit misleading.
Passing is Lee’s bread and butter, but there’s a reason he’s received so much hype. He’s a good athlete, and if he lives up to that hype, he’ll be able to use his legs as a weapon if the situation warrants.