LINCOLN — Nebraska’s offensive coaches knew that when the Huskers got the ball with roughly eight minutes left in the game, it could be the final chance. The week before when Nebraska needed a clutch score with two minutes left against Northwestern, they turned to Ron Kellogg. Against Michigan – albeit with more than two minutes to operate – Nebraska turned to Tommy Armstrong Jr.
“He did a nice job with a lot of composure and made a lot of big throws for us,” Beck said. “They were key. Even the drive before, he made a couple big throws, we just didn’t finish it off. I thought he played really well; handled himself well, made good decisions, didn’t panic back there, was very calm.”
Beck said Armstrong’s check into a pass to Kenny Bell on fourth down was a routine check with the corner giving Bell a decent cushion on the line of scrimmage. That goes back to composure, Beck said. The quarterback’s calmness under fire on the road is just another factor that set Armstrong apart as a freshman.
“It’s the ‘it’ factor. He has it,” Beck said. “It just applies to all the things that he does as a player and as a person. It’s why he’s able to go into the Big House and stay composed no mater what. He just has that.”
The “it” factor is something Beck said he’s seen in players not just at the quarterback position. Beck singled out Ameer Abdullah and Rex Burkhead as Husker players with the factor he “absolutely” looks for on the recruiting trail. The third-year offensive coordinator – who spent time as running backs coach at Kansas – said former Jayhawks quarterback Todd Reesing possessed the “it” factor.
“You can’t time it, you can’t weigh it. It’s not some star,” he said. “You can’t put a star on it, it’s just, they got ‘it.’ We try to look for it in all our players.”
-Beck added Tuesday night that Michigan State’s salty defense is not a fluke this season. Beck said you can always count on the Spartans to field a sound defense.
“There’s no question about it,” he said. “They play hard, and they’re physical. They did last year and they did the year before that too. They’ll show up on Saturday.”
-According to Beck, injured guard Jake Cotton practiced “some” Tuesday. Cotton left the practice facility in sweats.