LINCOLN, Neb. – The quarterback situation for Nebraska looked pretty dire on Monday after Mike Riley announced that Ryker Fyfe had broken a bone in his wrist in Saturday’s game – a game starter Tommy Armstrong Jr. missed with a hamstring injury. However, according to Riley on Thursday, things are looking better as we move closer to Friday’s game at Iowa.
“If I had to guess right this minute, I think that both Tommy and Ryker will be available to play,” Riley said. “I also know that we have prepared Zack Darlington. So they have all taken turns and I feel good about the fact that all three of them are ready to go.”
Does Riley expect Armstrong to start?
“I think so,” Riley said. “I think that that would probably be the case. I will reserve final judgment for a couple days probably as we see how he does tomorrow and then talk about it Friday morning, I guess.”
Riley said he hasn’t really seen Armstrong struggle since returning to practice, although they haven’t fully tested him yet.
“He looks comfortable,” Riley said. “I don’t see any noticeable limp or soreness or anything like that; I don’t notice that. Now, I do know too he has not gone full speed. We have not run all the quarterback run stuff full speed ahead like we normally do with him this week. We have simulated it and run the plays, but he has not cut it loose.”
When will they ask Armstrong to cut it loose? Well, that’s going to be up to him. Regardless, Riley has faith in Armstrong to run the offense.
“Whenever Tommy’s ready to go and what he can do, it’s going to be one of those things that the only best assessment of how he feels is going to be him,” Riley said. “If there was a great risk, that he was really putting himself at risk right away in the game just playing in the game, we wouldn’t be talking about this. But he has definitely progressed from Monday to today, so we actually feel good about that and his movement of what he can do to manage and quarterback a game, although we haven’t necessarily seen all the parts of what makes Tommy, he can still quarterback this team.”
Assuming both quarterbacks are available as expected, the trainers will determine within the next day or so whether or not Armstrong will wear the artificial hamstring that has helped him return to practice this week. Fyfe will wear some kind of a “noticeable protective unit on his hand,” according to Riley.
The short week couldn’t have come at much worse of a time for Nebraska with the quarterback situation, but Riley said they’re handling it as well as they can.
“It’s nothing that we can control, so it doesn’t do any good to sit and complain about it,” Riley said. “You have to adjust. It was bad timing for something like this but I think everybody’s worked extra hard at it. The rehab guys, the guys themselves, what they do, what they have to do to get ready and then the trainers and doctors, they all pitch in. Everybody’s kind of gone overtime with it, which I appreciate.”
In other injury news, kicker Drew Brown and wide receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. have both been released from concussion protocol and are cleared to practice, which they did today. Tight end Sam Cotton also practiced after leaving the game early against Maryland. Linebacker Dedrick Young practiced all week, an encouraging sign for Riley, and he thinks the sophomore will be able to play.
“Alonzo Moore did some physical work that was encouraging, but did not participate full-fledged in practice,” Riley said to wrap up the injury report.
Finally, Riley shared what he saw from Iowa’s upset against Michigan last week.
“What it looked like was kind of a statement of what, to me, is Iowa’s identity: tough defense, don’t give up big plays, make everything that the other team does – make them really have to work at it, earn it,” Riley said. “Nice job on third down. Very, very sound defense. Offensively, their identity pretty much also was emphasized, signified in that game with good running, persistent running and timely play action passing.”
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.