Today, I had a friend ask me about the things I would be watching most closely during the Red-White Spring Game on Saturday. Among my answers was the battle for the backup quarterback spot. The answer caught him off-guard so much so, that I felt I had to explain myself. Then I thought I might as well share that explanation with all of you too.
There is no position on a football team more important than the quarterback. The entire offense runs through the QB and he is one of only two players who touch the ball on every play. They must lead and set the tone in the huddle.
All that said, it is obvious that Joe Ganz is QB1 for the Huskers in 2008. Much of NU's possible success hinges on his performance and I'm glad the kid has guts and is a fierce competitor. I also know he is willing to scramble because he's going to take hits.
This brings us to the backup quarterback battle. Right now it is neck and neck between Zach Lee and Patrick Witt and I think Saturday's scrimmage with relatively even teams can tell us a lot about who will move in to that No. 2 role. It's an important role because that guy is literally "one play away" from being NU's starting QB for 2008.
When a starting quarterback goes down, teams usually follow. NU benefited greatly against Wake Forest last year because Wake was playing a backup quarterback. And look at what happened to Oregon after Dennis Dixon's injury. Or, if you dare, consider what happened when Bill Callahan benched Joe Dailey on the road at Texas Tech in 2004. Or recall how we all held our breath every time Zach Taylor got hit (over and over and over) in 2005.
Having a talented or at least capable backup behind Ganz could mean the difference between having a winning season and not. And if NU is able to get Lee or Witt repetitions in some of their less competitive ball games in 2008, it would set up 2009 nicely.
So on Saturday, I'll be watching the quarterbacks not named Joe Ganz more carefully than I'm evaluating the incumbent.