November 9, 2009

Quarterback controversy alive and well once again

Lost in the celebration of Nebraska's upset win over Oklahoma on Saturday was looming question that could impact the Huskers' offense for the rest of the season.

On NU's first drive of the second quarter, head coach Bo Pelini decided to pull freshman quarterback Cody Green - who made just his career start - and put in junior Zac Lee.

As luck would have it for Lee, the drive started at the Sooner 1-yard line, and he was able to toss a touchdown pass on his first play. Lee, who was replaced by Green after the loss to Iowa State three weeks ago, remained at quarterback the rest of night.

On Monday, Pelini was asked about the Huskers' quarterback situation during the Big 12 coaches' teleconference. He said the competition is still open, and he doesn't plan on announcing who would be the starter against Kansas until later on this week.

"That remains to be seen," Pelini said. "We've got to go week to week, and we're going to do what we feel like we need to do to win a football game. It could be a combination of the two, it could be Zac or it could be Cody. It's something we're going to figure out as time goes on and as we put in our game plans. We're going to give ourselves the best opportunity to win football games.

"I'm in no hurry to name the starter."

Pelini was asked why he didn't let Green go back out and try and build some confidence after Nebraska took over at the goal line with a gold opportunity to score. He said he and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson had already decided to sit Green in favor of Lee before junior cornerback Price Amukamara made the interception to set up the drive, and they weren't going to go back on their decision because of it.

As for the original decision to pull Green from the game, Pelini said much of it had to with wanting to protect Green from potentially making a crucial mistake in such a pressure-filled game.

"That's the main reason that we removed him from that situation," Pelini said. "That was a crazy atmosphere. I just felt an aura out there that that game was a little bit different. I wanted to protect him a little bit. That's one of the reasons we did what we did. It was that we lacked confidence in Cody. It's a long-term deal with him, and we wanted to make sure we did the right thing by him and protect him in that situation."

The other part of the decision was Pelini and Watson trusted in Lee's composure and experience to manage the offense well enough to get a victory.

"He's a little bit older," Pelini said. "He doesn't have a ton more experience, but he has a little more experience. He's been in the system a little but longer. He's a talented guy. He does a lot of good things. I just felt at the time that was the right move to make, and it turned out to be the right thing. You got a feel for how the game was going and what you need to do to win the football game, and I thought at the time that that was best thing for our football team."

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