Sipple has a good point, how many times have we seen an athlete or QB do very well individually but the team still struggled to get over the 9 win hump. Maybe this year is the year the Huskers put it together in all 4 phases of the game.
It takes more than a Quaterback:
Let's say the buzz proves to be accurate.
Let's say the mountain of hype turns into reality.
Let's say Tanner Lee really is an NFL-caliber quarterback. In fact, let's go so far as to say he becomes a first-round pick.
What would that mean for Nebraska offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf? Would there suddenly be as much positive buzz about him as there has been about Husker defensive coordinator Bob Diaco throughout the offseason?
Langsdorf has been around the game long enough to understand that having an NFL-level quarterback can make life easier in a lot of ways, but guarantees nothing in terms of wins and losses.
Jared Goff, the first overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, started three seasons at Cal. At 6-foot-4 and 223 pounds, he is the same size as Lee. He throws a gorgeous spiral, as does Lee. Goff looks the part, as does Lee.
But in Goff's three seasons as Cal's starter, the Golden Bears were 7-20 in the Pac-12. In 2015, Goff threw for 4,714 yards and 43 touchdowns -- 43! -- with 13 interceptions while completing 64.5 percent of his passes. Nebraska fans would take those numbers from Lee in a heartbeat, but not if the Huskers ended up 8-5 overall and 4-5 in the conference, as the Bears did in Goff's final season in the program.
No guarantees? Consider the case of Patrick Mahomes, the 10th overall pick in April's draft. Last season at Texas Tech, the 6-2, 225-pounder threw for 5,052 yards — 5,052! — while gunning 41 touchdown passes with only 10 interceptions. He completed 65.7 percent of his passes. But the Red Raiders finished 5-7 overall and 3-6 in the Big 12.
So, yes, Lee could perhaps become the impetus to massive offensive improvement at Nebraska — which finished 90th nationally in yards per game last season. But, as Goff and Mahomes' college careers illustrate, elite quarterback play is only part of what constitutes championship-level football.
It seems for every Russell Wilson at Wisconsin, there's a Mitchell Trubisky at North Carolina.
Fast forward to the end of the 2017 season. If folks are (still) buzzing about Lee, not to mention Langsdorf, Nebraska will have excelled in several facets offensively — not just at quarterback. Husker head coach Mike Riley last week detailed many of those facets for reporters following a practice at Hawks Championship Center.
He cited the importance of having excellent timing in the passing game and being sound and efficient in the running game. He emphasized the need to get plays off in a clean fashion — for instance, avoid false starts and delays of game. That's right, obvious stuff that nonetheless requires elbow grease.
"I think our (running) backs can make plays," said Riley, 15-11 in two seasons at Nebraska. "I think they can run. But you've got to have good assignment football, then you've got to be good technically to get the ball past your block."
Get the ball past your block. Football sometimes can sound remarkably simple. But we know there can be complications. We know that, in part, because in the seasons that Riley had his three best quarterbacks at Oregon State — Derek Anderson, Sean Mannion and Matt Moore — the Beavers were a combined 37-40 in conference play.
Forget the past for a second, though. Riley seems genuinely excited about Nebraska's 2017 offense. He seems to have confidence in the team's skill players. He likes the fact Lee not only completes a high percentage of passes in practice, the junior transfer hits his receivers in stride (timing!) — and many of those receivers don't need much daylight to produce long gains.
"I think we have good guys positioned at each spot," Riley said.
Split end Stanley Morgan, a junior with 58 career catches, looks to be playing the best football of his life.
Slot receiver JD Spielman, a redshirt freshman, looks like a budding star. His first step is ultra-explosive.
As for the flankers (Riley's term), "I think De'Mornay (Pierson-El) and Tyjon (Lindsey) make a terrific couple out there," the coach said.
"So I think those pieces are well-placed."
Riley mentioned the importance of running backs taking good care of the ball — and being versatile.
"They're going to have to run and catch," Riley said.
They're also going to have to protect Lee.
Meanwhile, Riley said "there have been good indications" that Nebraska will receive strong offensive line play. That group has been challenged by Diaco's propensity for throwing "the kitchen sink" at the offense in practice.
"And that's good," Riley said.
We'd be remiss not to mention Nebraska's unknowns. Exhibit A: Three of its anticipated top weapons — Spielman, Lindsey and tight end Tyler Hoppes — have yet to catch a pass in college. You also wonder how well the line will rebound from a rocky 2016 season. The Huskers have five offensive linemen who started at least four games last year.
"Now, we've had our moments (this month) when it hasn't looked great," Riley said. "But like I've said, we've seen a lot of stuff (from the defense), which is what camp is for."
He hopes that as the offense concentrates on a smaller group of plays as the Sept. 2 opener nears, efficiency will improve.
"I'm excited," Riley said. "At the same time, it's one of those things — we've got to go out and do it. I mean, it's got to be out there on the field. I think efficiency is, for me, the No. 1 goal right now. Getting the play, getting (in) the huddle, getting the call, getting to the line, giving yourselves a good snap. Now, let's play."
Let's see if the hype about Lee is legit.
And let's see if NU can check off enough boxes around him to win big.