Riley details decision to name Lee starting QB for 2017
Though Tanner Lee was mostly considered the frontrunner for the starting quarterback job throughout spring practices, head coach Mike Riley made it official on Wednesday night by tweeting out that a decision had finally been made.
Lee and Patrick O’Brien had been in a head-to-head battle for the job since the end of last season, and the Huskers decided the time was right to name the former Tulane transfer as the No. 1 signal caller going into the 2017 campaign.
Our QB competition this spring was outstanding. That talented group will continue to push each other and provide a bright future.— Mike Riley (@Coach_Riley) April 19, 2017
We met with the QBs and explained the importance of defining a starter at this time. Tanner Lee is our top QB heading into the summer.— Mike Riley (@Coach_Riley) April 19, 2017
Shortly after making the announcement, Riley was a guest on the Husker Sports Network and expanded more on the decision to name Lee the starter.
“Tanner won the job, but he won it with great competition from Patrick O’Brien and great work from the next guy, Tristan Gebbia," Riley said. "We feel like the Husker quarterback position is in good hands right now, and those guys made it a tough decision. But we are thrilled with the group and excited about Tanner starting as our quarterback.”
Considering it was a competition that featured a literal coin flip to open spring ball to determine who got the first snaps, Riley was asked how the announcement was received in the quarterback room when he informed them of the decision.
“First of all, I think they all realized that the competition was good,” Riley said. “It was always a good, healthy room, and the camaraderie within that position has been good, even in the midst of strong competition. So that says a lot about the guys, for sure.
“So I think that they understood that it was good competition. I believe that they understood that we gave them a fair opportunity throughout the spring to share the turns in practice. For sure Patrick was disappointed, Tanner excited.
"That’s kind of a natural, easy reaction to relay to everybody, but I think the reality of it is we’ve got good quarterbacking here, and we’re excited to name our starter and are glad that we have the crew that we do.”
Riley said the timing of the announcement was done intentionally to have it be a few days removed from spring ball and also well in advance of the start of fall camp.
That way, as Riley said, the Huskers will enter the fall without any “drama” surrounding the quarterback position.
Riley noted that there was a year back at Oregon State when he waited all the way up until the week before the first game of the season to announce the starting QB.
“I learned then that I don’t want to do that again,” Riley said.
“We decided that it might be good to define it now before the summer time for the work that the quarterbacks are going to do with the team,” Riley added. “I don’t know that there’s any magic to it, but I do know that we did not want to carry it out into fall camp.
"I didn’t really want to start fall camp making that the story. The story is out right now. Everybody can sit on it, including our team and our quarterbacks, and we can prepare and basically enter fall camp without any drama at that position.”
All part of God's plan— Patrick O'Brien™ (@oneandonlyPOB) April 19, 2017