LINCOLN, Neb. — Redshirt junior Tanner Lee and redshirt freshman Patrick O’Brien looked good in the eyes of Nebraska coach Mike Riley on Saturday.
The two quarterbacks are battling for the starting position, a bout that will likely last well into the annual spring game on April 15.
Riley said both quarterbacks looked better than quarterbacks generally do on the first day of spring practice.
“I think that’s what might have stood out the most (from practice),” Riley said.
Riley and offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf stuck to their word and flipped a coin to see who would take first-team snaps first on Saturday.
The main thing Riley and Langsdorf are looking for this spring is consistency and efficiency. Riley pointed out that because Nebraska will no longer have a running quarterback like Tommy Armstrong, the completion percentage must improve.
Coverage was limited at Saturday’s practice, but Riley said he was encouraged by the way both quarterbacks read the defense and threw the ball.
“Are they going to hit the right guy in the right route?” Riley said. “That is key.”
Junior offensive lineman Jerald Foster said not much should change up front in terms of protecting a quarterback, be it O’Brien or Lee. But he did say the team is ready for one of them to step into a leadership role.
“Quarterback-wise, they just have to understand that they are going to need to step up into a position where they are going to be a leader of this team and be the guy that we’re looking to,” Foster said. “They’re going to have to do something this spring when it comes to leadership.”
Riley is hopeful that the Sunday workouts Lee and O’Brien participated in during the 2016 season will help them develop a rhythm this spring.
Coaches will continue to flip a coin to decide who goes first on the first team all spring, or until a starter is announced, Riley said.
Other notes from practice
- Freshman wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson Jr. did not participate in practice. He’s been suffering from an illness since Christmas, Riley said. He hopes Johnson is able to go after spring break in a few weeks.
- Fellow freshman wide receiver Jaevon McQuitty did participate in drills. He had shoulder surgery this winter.
- Tristan Gebbia, a freshman quarterback, was the smallest guy on the field. Riley said Gebbia is beginning to put on weight, and he’s not worried at all about Gebbia’s size.
- Nebraska commit Chris Walker was in attendance. The offensive lineman attends Lincoln East High School.