Thursday, September 10, 2009

Lee the man unless trouble hits

Don’t you find it mildly strange how the media is frequently ready to draw premature comparisons when a perceived young stud quarterback enters the picture?

Nebraska enters this week’s home game against Arkansas State fresh off a 49-3 season-opening win over Florida Atlantic. Making his first start on the Div. I-A level, Zac Lee completed 15-of-22 passes for 213 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Playing at No. 2 behind Lee (a junior) is true freshman Cody Green, who saw action late in the game, completing 2-of-3 passes for 18 yards. He also had an explosive 49-yard run.

Never mind that the run came in garbage time but both the Lincoln Journal Star: and Omaha World Herald: ran stories that featured Green. “Unpsportsmanlike Conduct,” which is an Omaha based sports talk show did two segments on the matter.

I didn’t necessarily have a problem with the way either story was presented. Plus, being a mainstream media member myself, I respect the job they have to do as far as filling sports pages and filling air time.

I just think it’s a little premature to feature Green not matter what his high school resume suggests.

My biggest issue comes on message boards, which in one respect has replaced going to the bar and having conversations. Well, not replaced per se, but an outlet nonetheless.

At any rate, various message board posters have posed the question throughout the offseason and even now that at what point does Green (a true freshman) start?

We’ve all heard the football axioms of how, “The most popular guy on the team is the backup quarterback,” and “If you have two capable middle linebackers it’s a competition but if you have two capable quarterbacks it is a controversy.”

The thing that really chaps me about the aforementioned Nebraska media, which does a very good job more often than not, and the message board postings is that yes Green showed his dynamic talent in his limited time – but it was in garbage time. Just like Lee’s snaps last season in relief of Joe Ganz and Patrick Witt. I can understand going gaga if say he came in to flash that ability with the game in the balance.

I’m not saying this to knock Green. He appears to be a talented young man but going gaga over him under the circumstances does him no good either.

Granted, Green won the No. 2 job in camp hut Lee is also familiar with the entire playbook (which has 320 plays) while Green admitted himself that he has only 15 plays that he feels comfortable with. Just doing the math, that’s 15 divided by 320. That’s not even five percent of the playbook, folks! Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson might not desire Bill Callahan like volume but he does not strike me as the type that will scale down the playbook.

Bottom line, barring injury, Green will not start at quarterback this year or maybe even next year.

I’m all for playing a freshman over a junior if he is a better athlete but quarterback is a much different animal. Yes, Tommie Frazier took over as the Huskers starting quarterback five games into 1992 – supplanting Mike Grant. Frazier went on to lead Nebraska to two National Championships. More recently, Terrelle Pryor took over as Ohio State’s starting quarterback as a true freshman and led the Buckeyes to the Fiesta Bowl. Vince Young started as a true freshman at Texas and led the Longhorns to two Rose Bowl wins, the second of which was a National title. Matt Barkley is USC’s starting signal-caller. This year’s Trojans have been considered “down” but they have enough talent to be 10-3 if they have a bad year.

The difference is this. Those teams had strong supporting casts. The current Nebraska team has a good but not great supporting cast.

Husker fans that truly know the sport understand that Lee will see about 90 percent of the snaps. Do you play Green in meaningful situations? Sure but do so with one of the 15 plays where he is comfortable and perhaps around the goal-line.

However, if Green is starting, it’s not a good sign for Nebraska because it means that Lee is either injured or ineffective and that the Huskers have opted to move forward.

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