LINCOLN, Neb. — “We just need you to catch the next one. Don’t worry about the last one.”
That’s the message Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee shares with his teammates after a catch is dropped. He knows he needs those players to keep their confidence up, so that’s what he aims to do.
Lee’s completion percentage on the season is 54 percent. It’s not as high as offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf would like it, which is something that has to be addressed.
“There’s been a couple throw-aways in there and there’s a lot of drops,” Langsdorf said after practice on Monday. “There’s been quite a few in fact that have been kind of shared by all the perimeter groups. It’s not been one guy or one group. It’s been a combination. I think there were 4 drops in the game I thought were catchable balls that were placed in a good spot. I know we had 4 throwaways so we want that much higher obviously.
“Some of that will be a guy getting open. Some of it will be ball placement. It’s going to be finishing the play and making the catch.”
On Monday, wide receivers coach Keith Williams had his group running through extra drills post-practice. In fact, junior Stanley Morgan Jr. spent a few minutes catching footballs from the throwing machine before leaving the practice field.
When asked about fixing the problem, Williams smirked.
“Look,” Williams said, pointing over to Morgan. “Like that.”
According to Williams, most of the drops so far have been on 50-50 balls where there have been distractions. That’s why he’s running the extra drills that involve every one of the scenarios Nebraska has struggled with in games.
From there, it’s then up to Williams to continuing emphasizing the problem and the players taking what they learn to the field.
“We’ll get that fixed,” Williams said.
Plus, both Langsdorf and Williams see a good relationship between Lee and the wide receivers. There have been new faces at times, like Gabe Rahn and Bryan Reimers, but it hasn’t been an issue overall.
“I think overall it’s good chemistry,” Langsdorf said. “It takes time to continue to build that and it started last spring and all through the summer, but it’s a continual work in progress for sure.”
Williams agreed. He even sees Lee settling into his role more and more every week.
“He seems to be getting more comfortable,” Williams said. “I would assume that’s what’s happening. All we can do is make all the plays that we can, catch the ball, run the route exactly as designed to be ran and do our job 100 percent the best we can to make his job easy.”
With Ohio State looming, Williams isn’t interested in looking back. Neither is Langsdorf. Instead, it’s all about preparing for the next opponent and becoming a better team today than they were yesterday.
Part of that will be improving the drops and continuing to build on the relationship between Lee and the wide receivers.
“We talked about moving forward obviously,” Williams said. “That’s sort of the cliche answer obviously, but it’s the truth. Moving forward because you learn from what happened and learn from the mistakes and start focusing on how you can beat your next opponent.”