QB Report Card

Following the spring game comes a cold reality for college football fans, no more football until August. Have no fear as there is always the spring to talk about. As part of a series, Big Red Report will being a look at the players at each position, grade the position on a player basis and then the position overall. Please join us for our first installment of the quarterback report card.

The quarterback position, going into spring, was one that Nebraska fans had some confidence in the players at the position. After a season-ending injury to Sam Keller last year, Joe Ganz stepped up and showed that he was capable of playing in the Big 12 and at a very high level.

In Ganz's first start against Kansas, he threw for more than 400 yards and put up 39 points. The following week, Ganz led Nebraska to 73 points and threw for over 500 yards and over 700 yards of total offense. Ganz was impressive again against Colorado with almost another 500 yards throwing and putting up 51 points.

Here is the post-spring report card for the quarterbacks:

1. Joe Ganz - Ganz came into spring as the apparent starter and leaves as the solid starter. While this is good news for Husker fans, there are still some questions about Ganz to ponder. Can he last, physically, through an entire season? Does he have the arm strength to make some of the deeper out patterns required in the West Coast Offense?

If there is one certainty when it comes to Ganz, he is a gamer. You take a look at him and he is not prototypical. Sam Keller was prototypical. However, you can now make the argument that prototypical does not equal time in the offense. While there might be some flaws in Ganz' game from a physical tools perspective there are few flaws in his game from a comprehension of the offense perspective.


2. Patrick Witt - Without a lot of media pub and hub-bub, Witt quietly had a very good spring. Splitting reps with Ganz and the #1 offense, Witt demonstrates the same type of decision making ability that Ganz has and adds a stronger arm that allows him to make some of the longer throws to the outside. Many believe that the trade-off with Witt under center is mobility, but people need to be reminded that Witt rushed for almost 600 yards in his high school career to go along with 19 touchdowns.

What you get with Ganz that you don't with Witt is some practical game experience; expect that to change this year. The Nebraska staff is going to need to think about developing a quarterback this year to take over for Ganz next year, injury this year or just in blow-out situations. Witt should be the first player off of the bench to get those reps and take another step forward.


3. Beau Davis - Many will ask why I have put Davis at number three on this list and I will tell you why. Technically, Davis was actually the second quarterback drafted (with Ganz being a captain) behind Witt for the spring game. What I take from that is that Davis, while probably not a realistic possibility to push either Ganz or Witt for playing time this fall, still has the nod over the others because of his knowledge of the offense.

Davis will probably go down in Nebraska history for his rough debut in Lubbock with just one completion and four interceptions. Beyond that game, where he did see meaningful playing time, Davis' time on the field has been little to none. Don't expect that to change this fall without there being a complete disaster at the position in terms of either performance or injury.


4. Zac Lee - Lee received a lot more attention from the media this spring than expected, but when you are a four or five star recruit you are destined to get some attention. Lee has a live arm. Lee has good mobility. However, the knock on Lee has never been physical tools on the football field. The knock on Lee has been playing inside the offense.

The fact of the matter is Lee simply doesn't know enough of the offense to run it effectively. Missing check downs and making bad reads is enough to make an offensive coordinator go crazy (especially when you have two or three quarterbacks that do understand). Lee is going to need the intangibles to go along with the tangibles before he can be expected to lead the Nebraska offense.


5. Kody Spano - Spano joined the Huskers in the spring after a great career in Stephenville, Texas. A highly regarded recruit, Spano threw for 2,263 yards and 23 touchdowns as a senior with a 62% completion percentage. Spano was the Offensive MVP for his district and also all-state honors.

At this point, you haven't heard as much about Spano as you did last year about Witt when it came to understanding the offense. However, Spano did get his chance in the spring game to lead a drive or two. Spano should be considered a work in progress with a bright future.


6. Jim Ebke - Ebke joined the Cornhuskers this spring after transferring in from South Dakota State. A former Lincoln East product, Ebke will be required to sit out the fall after partaking in the spring drills due to NCAA transfer rules.

What Ebke brings to Nebraska, in terms of playing the quarterback position, is toughness. At South Dakota State, Ebke was a scout team standout at safety and linebacker. Ebke was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Nebraska in 2006 and led Class A total offense with 1,225 yards passing and 1,549 yards rushing adding 31 total touchdowns.


Overall, the position does have ability, but does lack some practical experience. Nebraska should feel good knowing that Ganz is capable of putting up numbers to keep Nebraska competitive offensively. Nebraska should also feel good that once again this year that there is a quarterback ready to step in that knows about the offense in Witt. Beyond those two, the Nebraska quarterbacks are a work in progress. Without injury or some very high scoring games I wouldn't expect anyone beyond those two to get many minutes this fall. The quarterback position is a position of strength for the Huskers this coming year.


Up next…running backs.

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