Nebraska practiced Tuesday night without a few starters as the Huskers prepare for their first road trip this season.
Starting wide receiver Jamal Turner sat out with the hamstring injury he suffered in the Illinois game, as did starting tight end Jake Long with an undisclosed injury. Senior quarterback Taylor Martinez remained in a walking boot and street clothes as he recovers from his lingering turf toe injury.
With Martinez still out for now, offensive coordinator Tim Beck turned his attention to redshirt freshman quarterback Tommy Armstrong who could make the third start of his career this Saturday.
“(Tommy) has done a good job of being level-headed and staying poised,” Beck said. “I coached him pretty hard today, but I know that he’s the kind of guy that doesn’t let things get to him. He will need to do that on the road against a faster, more aggressive defensive football team.”
Beck added that he still plans to use both Armstrong and Ron Kellogg III this week if Martinez can’t go.
“You never know who’s got the hot hand,” Beck said. “You never know what’s going to happen. You better have guys ready to go in there and play. You have to play both (Tommy) and (Ron) so that if you have to go back to them later in the game, you aren’t going to a guy who hasn’t played at all.”
A few other notes from Tuesday’s practice:
–Freshman outside linebacker Jared Afalava got his first taste of Memorial Stadium for an extended period of time. Afalava said he knew he’d play mostly in base defense, so he’d be ready when the Huskers went into a three linebacker set.
“In my head I was just thinking like ‘this is practice. Just like practice,’” Afalava said. “It’s crazy looking up seeing the crowd, but other than that, in my mind I was just thinking ‘it’s just practice.’”
Afalava graded his first start as “alright.”
“I ain’t gonna lie, I don’t think I did that good,” he said. “Everybody’s just telling me ‘oh yeah, you did good.’”
After what looked like a bit of a tongue lashing from coach Bo Pelini on the sidelines, Afalava said he’s been there before. The freshman from Utah said he was supposed to take the first man in the flat, but he accidentally went to the perimeter.
“We did it the next time, and I stayed in and got that tackle for loss,” Afalava said.
–Afalava talked Tuesday about the neck injury that sidelined him for the first two games of the season, which turned out to be a strained neck from bulging discs. For fear of worsening the injury, Afalava said he voluntarily told the coaches he didn’t want to play when they thought it was an injury. After a week and a half of therapy, Afalava was able to play.
“I was just scared for my neck that I was gonna be paralyzed or something. That’s why I just told them ‘I’m good. That’s my career,’” he said with a grin.
–Senior Andrew Rodriguez said after practice the offensive line has the most guys on the field, so they have the most responsibility when a young quarterback is on the field.
“We have five, six guys there, so we do have to take accountability,” he said. “But we’re always confident in whoever’s next to step in. We don’t doubt anyone and I feel like that’s the most important thing is trust in your teammates, because if you don’t have that, then everything will just fall apart.