Nebraska Football: O’Brien’s Future Shouldn’t Be Tied to Tanner Lee’s

The Nebraska football coaching staff hasn’t even gotten to leap out of the winter dead period yet and already 2017 quarterback talk is heating up. Tanner Lee versus Patrick O’Brien, who’s it going to be?

While Lee may have the inside track, there’s no reason that O’Brien should make any hasty decisions based on what may or may not be posted on a depth chart months from now.

When the decision was made to bring Lee in, no doubt the professionals at the top had a conversation with the San Juan Capistrano, Calif. native and explained the situation. The Nebraska football team needs depth moving forward and Lee’s presence gives O’Brien time to grow.

He could throw up his hands if he’s not taking the majority of the snaps this fall, but there’s absolutely no thoughtful reason for that.

Should Lee start, Nebraska will be playing a quarterback that has 19 FBS-level games under his belt in comparison to O’Brien’s zero. No. 13 has run with the bulls already and this is largely what gives him such a big edge heading into the spring.

O’Brien, on the other hand, has excellent mechanics and footwork, all of the necessary tools to become what offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf wants. If he gets frustrated, he must remember two main things.

First, he’s a redshirt freshman and second, Lee’s around for two years tops.

We’ve talked about the kind of output Oregon State quarterbacks had under head coach Mike Riley and Langsdorf before. What if Lee comes out and leads Nebraska to a banner year which pops the eyeballs of NFL scouts?

Should he test the waters and see what kind of a draft grade he comes back with, who’s to say he doesn’t skip total seniority and potentially become the Huskers’ first quarterback to be drafted at that actual position in forever and a day?

In such a scenario, O’Brien’s left as a likely redshirt sophomore starter with current 2017 commit Tristan Gebbia as his backup should no other signal-callers enter the fray.

Worst case scenario for O’Brien, Lee sticks around for two years and the transition is easier for Nebraska’s offense heading into 2019. He still heads into that spring with the edge on Gebbia and the 2018 commitment on experience alone.

There’s no doubt he’ll get the opportunity to play against the likes of Arkansas State and Northern Illinois during this upcoming season to get some live action in to start working those sea legs.

Nebraska football won’t find itself in a similar situation as it did in 2016 where two very different types of quarterbacks are on the depth chart as Tommy Armstrong, Jr. and Ryker Fyfe were. This needs to be a plug and play kind of deal from here on out.

Finally, who’s to question O’Brien’s commitment to the team? It’s understandable that as a field general, you want to be out leading the charge. However, like with any good skillset, he has to build as good a rapport as possible with his teammates before the situation calls for him to take the field.

Keep in mind that all it takes is one play to go horrifically wrong and BAM! – O’Brien’s “The Man.”

Don’t worry, folks. Not everybody’s itching to transfer.

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