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Nebraska players not taking sides in quarterback discussion

From the The headlines from Nebraska's 20-13 loss to Minnesota series
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The Lincoln Journal Star's Luke Mullin delivers postgame reaction on Saturday from Memorial Stadium.

With a backup quarterback leading the way, it was always going to be a challenge for Nebraska to get past Minnesota’s defense, ranked in the top five nationally.

The Huskers came close to testing Minnesota’s season average of 14.4 points allowed per game but fell just short in a 20-13 loss.

Given that Nebraska pivoted between Chubba Purdy and Logan Smothers throughout Saturday’s loss, the same question was posed to several Huskers postgame.

Is there a difference when Purdy is in the game as compared to Smothers?

Although their jobs on the field are all different, all three offensive players that spoke answered the same way.

“Both of them guys spin the ball real well,” wide receiver Marcus Washington said. “I don’t see too much of a difference; we have confidence in both of them, obviously.”

Running back Anthony Grant, Nebraska’s top offensive performer Saturday with 115 yards, agreed.

“I feel like all the (quarterbacks) in the room have all the capability of doing the same thing: executing and operating the offense,” Grant said. “It wasn't really a big deal for me. Chubba and Logan stepped in and did their job, took care of the ball and operated how they should.”

And up front, guard Broc Bando didn’t report any difference either. While Nebraska utilized more zone-read concepts with Smothers in the game, Bando said the blocking assignments remained the same.

“We just have to protect to make it easy on them,” Bando said. “Let them go through their reads, and if they need to get out of the pocket, go. I wouldn’t say we change it up per quarterback. Just make it easy on them.”

Those three answers are likely indicative of good teammates unwilling to criticize one of their quarterbacks publicly. That’s because there was a palpable difference in the quarterbacks’ on-field performance against Minnesota.

After leading two scoring drives on Nebraska’s first two possessions of the game, Purdy looked uncomfortable under pressure, often retreating backward rather than stepping up in the pocket. More importantly, Purdy’s fourth-quarter interception marked his third in 36 attempts as a Husker.

Smothers, on the other hand, threw an interception in a start against Iowa last season but delivered several impressive throws during his fourth-quarter cameo against Minnesota.

Both of Washington’s catches on the day came with Smothers at quarterback and went for over 30 yards. And while Washington remained cordial in his first answer, he paused for a second when asked about Smothers' performance in particular.

“Logan definitely balled out when he got his opportunity,” Washington said. “He did his thing, you guys saw that as well."

“That’s that.”

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Husker football/baseball reporter

An Omaha native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate, Luke reports on Nebraska football and baseball. Luke is in his fourth year with the Journal Star and previously covered prep sports.

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