Saturday, January 24, 2009

2009 Nebraska football: Position outlook -- quarterback

One story in a Wine Country Husker series, looking at position breakdowns for the Nebraska Cornhuskers for the 2009 season. Today, we look at quarterback:

Looking back: When you put up the numbers Joe Ganz amassed it’s hard to be underrated but he played in a conference that included Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford (Oklahoma), Colt McCoy (Texas), Graham Harrell (Texas Tech), Zac Robinson (Oklahoma State), Todd Reesing (Kansas) and Robert Griffith (Baylor).

Ganz spent the better part of three seasons behind Joe Dailey, Harrison Beck, Zach Taylor and Sam Keller. However, when replacing an injured Keller in a 28-25 loss to Texas, Ganz made his mark. In that game and 17 subsequent contests, Ganz threw 45 touchdown passes, including two in the Huskers come-from-behind 26-21 Gator Bowl win over Clemson.

Nebraska has certainly had better athletes at quarterback (Tommie Frazier, Turner Gill and Eric Crouch to name a few) but when it comes to toughness, leadership and other intangibles, Ganz has few peers.

Looking ahead: Whether it’s Zac Lee, Patrick Witt, Kody Spano or Cody Green, the stats might be good but replacing Ganz’s leadership will be tough.

Lee and Witt figure to be the two primary combatants. Whoever the quarterback is, however, we will not know anymore in August than we know now. Because Nebraska was seldom in any blowouts in 2008, Lee and Witt did not receive many snaps. The only experience they received was mop-up duty and those situations do not lend themselves to getting a true picture of what a player is like.

Lee has experience from the Junior College level, much like Zac Taylor when entering the program in 2005. He also has the mobility necessary for Nebraska’s offense, which took on concepts of the Spread combined with the West Coast Offense.

Witt, however, might have the edge as far as size (6-4 to Lee’s 6-2) and experience within the system but is more of a pure drop back passer.

As far as the measurable talent, Green might have the edge on all three and while he is already on campus taking courses, it’s hard to imagine a true freshman not redshirting his first season under Bo Pelini much less playing significantly.

Time will tell but because of his mobility and playing experience beyond high school, my early money is on Zac Lee.

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