Wisconsin vs. Nebraska, 10/7/17

Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee (13) is hit by Wisconsin linebacker Garret Dooley (5) just as he releases the ball in the second quarter Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

ERIC GREGORY, Journal Star

Let's keep this relatively simple.

Through six games, Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee is completing 54 percent of his passes -- 109-for-202 for 1,406 yards and 11 touchdowns, with 10 interceptions.

Regarding the 54-percent rate, "I think that's low," Husker offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf told reporters following Monday's practice. "But there's a couple throwaways in there, and there are a lot of drops."

Langsdorf clearly isn't pleased with the number of drops by receivers -- be it by wideouts or others.

"There have been quite a few, in fact, that have been kind of shared by all the perimeter groups," he said. "It's not been one guy or one group, it's kind of been a combination."

He said there were four drops of "catchable balls" in Saturday's 38-17 loss to ninth-ranked Wisconsin.

Even so, Langsdorf said, Lee's completion percentage should be much higher.

"Some of that's going to be a guy getting open," he said. "Some of that's going to be ball placement. Some of it's going to be finishing the play and making the catch."

* Husker receivers coach Keith Williams, when asked about how to fix the drops: "Look, look (pointed at receivers working at the JUGS machine). Right there."

He added, "It depends, most of the drops have been 50-50 balls, balls where there’s been some distraction. I’m going to do some drills that involve every one of those scenarios. It’s up to the kid to have the techniques we teach in terms of taking a picture of the ball, having a photo (of the ball) and re-emphasizing it. It’s on me emphasizing it and them carrying it to the field.”

* Nebraska didn't get much going offensively during the second half Saturday night, in part because Wisconsin controlled the ball but also because the Huskers were plagued by inconsistency, especially in the run game.

That often led to second-and-longs and third-and-longs.

"We talked a lot about it today -- about really being feast or famine," Langsdorf said. "We'd hit a 12-yarder, then we'd go zero, then we'd go 1, and then we'd go 11, and then we'd go 1."

He prefers the most common runs to be in the 4- and 5-yard range. Of course, that sort of production will be critical this Saturday night to slow Ohio State's defensive front, which is regarded as one of the nation's best. Sophomore Nick Bosa (6-4, 270) leads the Buckeyes with four sacks and a Big Ten-best 10 tackles for loss.

"The Bosa kid looks like his brother (Joey Bosa of the Chargers), and his brother's tearing up the NFL," Langsdorf said.

* Lee wasn't sacked by Wisconsin, but he was hit eight times. Eight is far too many, Langsdorf said.

It was the result of a few factors beyond just offensive line play, including Lee failing to get the ball out of his hands quickly enough on occasion. What's more, tight ends and running backs need to help pick up pass-rushers more effectively at times.

* Lee played really well the last two games, Langsdorf said.

"He had some really smart decisions. I thought he threw the ball accurately. He moved nicely in the pocket and had a scramble. Stepped up a few times against some rush and made some throws. I just think he's been really sharp, really solid.

"He graded out great in our last game just with all the things we're asking him to do."

Against Illinois and Wisconsin combined, Lee was 33-for-56 for 508 yards and four touchdowns, with one pick.

* True freshman Tyjon Lindsey (nine catches for 48 yards on the season) has experienced the typical growing pains of a rookie while playing behind De'Mornay Pierson-El. Lindsey is doing "a pretty good job," Langsdorf said.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com.


Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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