Red-White Spring Game, 4/15

Nebraska quarterback Tristan Gebbia (14) drops back to pass in the fourth quarter during the spring game at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, April 15, 2017.

JAKE CRANDALL, Journal Star

The reporter's question to Mike Riley was simple and direct.

Has the Nebraska coach seen anything during preseason camp that would change his original preference of wanting to redshirt true freshman quarterback Tristan Gebbia this season?

"Yes," Riley said following Saturday's practice at Memorial Stadium, which wrapped up the second week of drills. "I think Tristan, by the time we get to the season, would function well in a game. I really do."

Riley then added, "Now, I don't think that's the best thing for him. I really don't. But we also know, for a purpose, we keep that (QB meeting) room small. But the other side of that is he's got to be ready (to play). So we know that."

Nebraska offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf said Thursday there isn't much separation between redshirt freshman Patrick O'Brien and Gebbia for the No. 2 job behind starter Tanner Lee. Before Langsdorf's comments Thursday, it was widely believed O'Brien had a clear-cut lead on Gebbia.

Walk-on Andrew Bunch is the only other quarterback on the roster.

Other nuggets from Saturday:

* The team worked through a 90-play scrimmage, with emphasis on "critical situations," such as red zone and two-minute drill, Riley said. The coach said he saw "snapshots that looked like a picture of what we want to be -- some good play-action, down-the-field throws, some good efficiency on third-down stuff, a nice touchdown pass in the red zone ..."

Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Jake Kitten, a walk-on from Santee, California, suffered a knee injury -- the only injury Riley mentioned. The coach was uncertain of the extent of the injury.

* Redshirt freshman slot receiver JD Spielman (muscle pull) sat out the scrimmage, but sophomore running back Tre Bryant returned after sitting out earlier in the week with recurring knee pain.

* The tight ends have made a major impression on Riley. "Tyler Hoppes has stepped up like a man," the coach said. "Connor Ketter has been hurt all summer, but I'm really proud of the work he's done to come back."

Riley also mentioned Jack Stoll, Matt Snyder and even redshirt freshman Branden Hohenstein, a walk-on from tiny Jackson (population 215) in extreme northeast Nebraska.

"This position could have a little depth to it and maybe now become a factor to being different -- maybe being good instead of just getting by like I thought we were going to have to do in some fashion."

* Riley seems unconcerned about ongoing praise going to Lee's head.

"It's not all perfect," Riley said of the QB's performance in camp. "There's daily evidence that there are still things left to improve."

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

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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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