LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska coach Mike Riley said after practice on Thursday he’s been pleased with the quarterback battle between redshirt junior Tanner Lee and redshirt freshman Patrick O’Brien.
So after Lee took the first-team snaps on Saturday, Riley insisted it is just part of the plan, and nothing more.
“And Patrick will take first-team snaps next practice,” Riley said following the practice Saturday. “And I don’t think we’ll do anything differently this spring.”
In essence, don’t expect a starter to be named before the spring game on April 15.
Both quarterbacks ran 48 plays on Saturday, a healthy dose for each, Riley said. He’s liked what he’s seen out of both quarterbacks and isn’t in any hurry to make a decision.
“The more we can get (even play) going, the better the competition is going to be,” he said.
Riley has said that the main goal of the first two weeks of spring practice is to install the basics, including punt formation, field goal formation and field goal block formation. With no special teams coordinator, Riley said those duties are being split up among the staff.
Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco is coaching the punt team, offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh is coaching punt protection, linebackers coach Trent Bray and defensive line coach John Parrella are coaching field goal block, and new safeties coach Bob Elliott is coaching punt return.
There will not be one coordinator for the special teams, as Riley has had in the past with Bruce Read. Read was fired after last season.
“So far it’s been pretty smooth,” Riley said.
The head coach also announced freshmen wide receivers Jaevon McQuitty and Keyshawn Johnson Jr. likely won’t see full contact at practice this spring.
McQuitty had surgery on his shoulder in December and Johnson hasn’t been feeling well since he had his appendix taken out in December.
“It’s too bad because you know these guys didn’t graduate high school early to come and just watch spring ball,” Riley said. “It’d be great to have them be practicing.”
The wide receiver position lacks some depth compared to last year, Riley said. But Riley likes what he’s seen from junior receiver Stanley Morgan Jr., said he thinks senior De’Mornay Pierson-El looks as good as he’s ever looked physically, and the younger receivers like redshirt freshman JD Spielman also look promising.
“I like the group,” Riley said. “We don’t have enough depth … as in last year.”
Nebraska will resume practice on Tuesday, then will practice again on Thursday before taking a week off for spring break.