No QB battle at NU anymore?

In an official release from the University of Nebraska Head Football Coach Bo Pelini announced that sophomore quarterback Patrick Witt was leaving the team. And just like that a quarterback race which was wide open seems to be locked up for one guy. But is it?

"Patrick has decided that it is in his best interest to continue his college career at another school. Patrick is a great kid from a great family and I appreciate the contributions he has made to our football program. I wish him nothing but the best in the future and know he will be a success wherever he goes."

This was a statement issued by Husker Head Coach Bo Pelini last night, announcing that one of the potential heir apparent to the position vacated by the now graduated Joe Ganz, has left.

While there will no doubt be some debate as to why a young man sitting in such a potentially prime position of opportunity might leave, I

Is Lee the only QB with a shot to
start?
think the most obvious question pertains now to the quarterback race, if there is one or if junior Zac Lee is almost a lock for the starting position for 2009.

The most obvious answer seems to be "yes." After all, he did play last year, albeit in very limited fashion, playing in only two games, rushing it more times than he threw it, Lee totaling two rushes for 17 yards while he went 1-for-2 throwing it, totaling just five yards.

But he's been in the system, having gone the route that Joe Ganz had to take himself, working with the Scout Team, and like Ganz did before him, earning Scout Team Offensive MVP. Lee is almost very similar to Ganz in the style of play, having proven in both his limited playing time, but certainly during practices, he's got mobility to burn.

On paper this one seems like a no-brainer. Witt didn't have the mobility of either Ganz or Lee. The sophomore certainly had a good arm, but when you look at what Nebraska was doing with all this new "Zone Read" stuff, where the mobility of a quarterback was a weapon versus a means to an end, Witt kind of seemed like a fish out of water.

He could run…a bit. But nothing like Ganz, nothing like Lee, and even going down to redshirt freshman Kody Spano, when Bo Pelini wanted to mimic quarterbacks they would be facing like Baylor's Robert Griffin or Virginia Tech's Tyrod Taylor, it was Spano who got the job.

It's not to say he's that mobile, but clearly he's a lot more mobile than maybe anyone really knew.

That doesn't change the fact, however, that Witt had maintained his position at number two behind Ganz, despite Quarterback Coach and Offensive Coordinator Shawn Watson saying that it was a very tight battle.

Is Kody Spano ready? Do we
know for sure he's not?
Point of fact, when Joe Ganz got dinged in the head against Clemson in the Gator Bowl, they brought Witt in when the game was in question and the down and distance wasn't forgiving, the inexperienced quarterback looking at a third and seven.

Coach Watson always said of Witt that he managed the game well, knew the offense in and out and could make the reads he needed to make to get Nebraska into the correct play.

Perhaps that's where Lee's struggles existed. If that's the case, despite his mobility, strong arm and experience, there seems to be a real question of whether or not he can manage the offense versus running a play here and there. Now Witt hadn't proved he could do that either.

He had a touchdown against Oklahoma, the irony existing that as Nebraska's last mobile quarterback, he put it into the end zone with his legs. But he hadn't done enough, thrown enough, thus proven enough for anyone to really know just what he could do.

So, whose job is it?

It shouldn't be ridiculous to think that Spano can't climb into this race. He's got the Spring ahead of him, and while he's running Scout Team offense more than anything else, he obviously has at least some knowledge of the system his own team utilizes on the field.

He is 6-2, which is almost the same as Ganz. He has a good, but not great arm, which is also very similar to Joe, who leaves Nebraska with the outright hold on or share of 25 offensive records at Nebraska. And it would appear that he's got some mobility as well.

If Witt was still the number two behind Ganz, without having all the ideal athleticism to do all the things Ganz could do, then maybe it does and will come down to just who can manage this offense best over the Spring versus who seems the most logical fit to take snaps under center. It's not to say Lee won't or can't do it. He is certainly in the driver's seat right now. But in what was considered to be a hot quarterback race to come between Lee and Witt, might be just as hot even though Witt is gone.

And no, I haven't forgotten Cody Green, and all the wonderful potential he has. But he's a freshman, a true freshman, and to expect that he'll be in this battle is simply expecting too much. If he is and does make an impact, more power to him, and it would be a heck of a story. Let's stick with the most logical reality of the situation right now, though, and that is that this situation isn't as logical as we might at first think.

One battle may be over, but I have a feeling that a new battle, maybe even a better battle, is getting set to begin.


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