Starting quarterback Tanner Lee might be available yet for Saturday’s game against No. 10 Penn State.
Head coach Mike Riley announced Thursday that Lee has gone through full practices each of the last two days and has been making progress in the concussion protocol. Should things continue to progress, Lee should be cleared for Saturday.
“He’s going through the protocol and if he does not have a setback as of today and everything checks out okay after this practice heading into tomorrow’s walkthrough, he will be cleared to play,” Riley said.
What that means in terms of playing time, Riley’s not sure at this point. He said it’s hard to make definitive statements with concussions and Lee has yet to actually be cleared, so they will wait until the go-ahead from the doctors.
“I think everything has really been smooth,” Riley said of Lee’s progress. “There have been no real glitches, he was not that guy that was prohibited. He watched practice on Monday. He’s been around. Whatever the doctors have allowed him to do, he’s done it and it’s been pretty seamless.
Right before halftime against Minnesota on Nov. 11, Lee was hit and driven into the ground by a Minnesota defender. During the play, he sustained what coaches called an “impact migraine,” and did not return for the second half. O’Brien took over and completed 12-of-18 passes for 137 yards.
O’Brien said Tuesday night he has been preparing as if he would be the starter, despite Lee’s status being up in the air. Riley said he received all of the first team reps on Monday and Tuesday, but he has split time with Lee since. O’Brien said he’s confident in his preparation heading into the matchup if called upon.
“It’s just football at the end of the day,” he said. “Just go out there and play.”
Other news and notes
>> Riley also announced that cornerback Eric Lee Jr. (concussion) is in the same situation as Tanner, if no setbacks occur, he should be cleared to play.
Holder Zack Darlington (illness), safety Aaron Williams (neck) and running back Jaylin Bradley (ankle) are also expected to play against Penn State.
>> Senior tackle David Knevel will shift inside Saturday and start at right guard, Riley announced Thursday.
“David is smart and healthy now and he gives us a pretty impressive physical figure in there,” Riley said of the 6-foot-9 offensive lineman. “It reminds me a hair of a couple years ago when we put Zach Sterup in there.”
Sterup, a 6-foot-8 lineman from 2011-2015, started his career as a tackle before moving inside to guard for the final four games of the 2015 season.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.