Ne­braska’s Lee might not play vs. Penn State

Dayton Daily News - - SPORTS - By Eric Ol­son

Ne­braska LINCOLN, NEB. — quar­ter­back Tan­ner Lee is in the con­cus­sion pro­to­col, and coach Mike Ri­ley said Mon­day that red­shirt fresh­man Pa­trick O’Brien would pre­pare as if he will be the starter for Satur­day’s game at Penn State.

A Min­nesota player fell on Lee’s head shortly be­fore half­time Satur­day, Ri­ley said, and O’Brien played the en­tire sec­ond half of the 54-21 loss.

Lee won’t be able to par­tic­i­pate in foot­ball-re­lated ac­tiv­ity early this week. Ri­ley said he wouldn’t rule out Lee for the game. Ri­ley said An­drew Bunch, a sopho­more walk-on who played at Scotts­dale (Ari­zona) Com­mu­nity Col­lege last year, would be the No. 2 quar­ter­back if Lee can’t play.

Re­gard­less of who starts, the Corn­huskers (4-6, 3-4 Big Ten) face a dif­fi­cult task after los­ing four of their last five games. The Nit­tany Li­ons (8-2, 5-2) have won 13 straight home games and are fa­vored by 24 points.

O’Brien has ap­peared in three games, with his most ex­ten­sive ac­tion com­ing against Min­nesota. He was 12 of 18 for 137 yards and picked up 41 yards on five car­ries, but those rush­ing yards were wiped out by the six sacks he took. Three of those sacks came on the last four plays of the game.

“I was proud of Pa­trick, ac­tu­ally,” Ri­ley said. “It’s a hor­ri­ble time to have to play in a game where you’re just pass­ing al­most all the time and they’re tee­ing off with blitzes and rushes and so we get too much pres­sure. I thought he hung in there and made some beau­ti­ful throws and ap­peared to have a lot of poise. Ev­ery­one can see he has a big-time arm and can make some of those big throws and ac­tu­ally showed good mo­bil­ity.”

Ne­braska drove to the Go­phers 14 on its fi­nal pos­ses­sion, and Ri­ley called three straight time­outs in the last 26 sec­onds, draw­ing boos. “I hated to do that ac­tu­ally but ... here we are in a sit­u­a­tion where we’re in the red zone, he hasn’t played much, who knows if he’s go­ing to play next week at that point,” Ri­ley said. “I was just go­ing to give him more snaps. I know that’s not very pop­u­lar.”

O’Brien is a more ca­pa­ble and will­ing run­ner than Lee, but Ri­ley said there prob­a­bly won’t be de­signed runs for him against Penn State. Ri­ley said O’Brien’s ten­dency is to de­cide to take off run­ning quicker than Lee when the pocket be­gins to col­lapse.

Ri­ley said there might be a smaller pack­age of plays for O’Brien if Lee can’t play.

AP

Ne­braska quar­ter­back Pa­trick O’Brien (top) could start Satur­day, with Tan­ner Lee in con­cus­sion pro­to­col.

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