NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The presumed impending transformation of Nebraska’s offense that so many Nebraska fans desperately crave is not coming, so says offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf.
With the Huskers’ 38-24 Music City Bowl loss to Tennessee on Friday now in the books, the Ryker Fyfe-Tommy Armstrong quarterback era is now officially over. Nebraska will usher in redshirt junior Tanner Lee and redshirt freshman Patrick O’Brien, two quarterbacks Langsdorf and Nebraska coach Mike Riley have hand-picked to run their pro-style offense.
But Langsdorf made it clear: The changing up of quarterbacks does not mean the offense will drastically change.
“I don’t think you’ll see a huge difference,” Langsdorf told Land of 10 on Friday.
At most, he said, the biggest change will be a lack of quarterback runs. Armstrong ran the ball more than 400 times for more than 1,800 yards in his Nebraska career. Fyfe had a rushing touchdown on Friday in Nebraska’s loss.
Lee and O’Brien won’t be running as much.
Beyond that, Langsdorf insists, it’ll be business as usual.
“It’s not like we’re going to trash everything that we’ve been doing,” Langsdorf said.
The system set in place right now by Langsdorf and Riley is an offense that’s malleable, but not something that can — or will — be totally reworked. Nebraska’s offense is a base system for the quarterback position, Langsdorf said. So be it Armstrong or Lee, the offense could still function with similar plays and schemes. And Langsdorf thinks so far, it’s where it needs to be.
And it’s set up that way, he said, so when Lee or O’Brien take over the offense, they don’t have to relearn everything. So for the past year, they’ve been reading the same playbook as Armstrong, not studying a new one.
That way, in the future, if Langsdorf and Riley want a dual-threat quarterback, they don’t need to start from scratch, either.
So the game tape from this season? The game tape from Fyfe’s start on Friday against Tennessee? That will “absolutely” be used in the film room with Lee and O’Brien, Langsdorf said.
“They’re good examples for learning for sure,” Langsdorf said.
There are two main points Langsdorf wants to focus on for the entire offense this offseason: running the ball more consistently and making his quarterbacks more accurate.
Part of that falls on the quarterbacks themselves. The running part will also benefit from accurate throws, Langsdorf said.
As of right now, Langsdorf said the quarterback battle looks great; both Lee and O’Brien look sharp. They’re making accurate throws and getting the hang of the signals and checks.
“They’re both talented throwers and they’re both smart guys,” Langsdorf said. “They’ve been giving us a lot of good work in getting us in the right run play and run checks and protections so I’m excited about both of those guys in how smart they are and how accurate they are. And that battle’s been going on all fall so we’re full-on into it.”
But, Langsdorf added, there’s no timetable to name a starter. He and Riley are waiting for one of the two quarterbacks to pull away from the other.
“We want one of them to take off with it. And when they do we’ll name them the starter,” Langsdorf said.
Regardless of who ultimately wins the battle, don’t expect an entire deviation from the offense in 2016.
“I think you’ll see a few different things,” Langsdorf said, “but I don’t think you’ll see this drastic shift in offensive philosophy.”