Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Mickey Joseph: Casey Thompson on Track to Play Against Wisconsin

November 17, 2022

Casey Thompson is on the verge of returning.

Interim head coach Mickey Joseph said during his short update with media on Thursday that Thompson threw the ball well in practice and is on track to return barring any unforeseen recurrence with his nerve injury. Joseph said the last three practices are enough to convince him Thompson’s ready. That confidence isn’t likely to change as long as Thompson continues to feel good.

“Unless he wakes up tomorrow and says ‘My whole elbow is numb,'” Joseph said, “OK? He’s going to play.”

Joseph said coaches and the medical team didn’t specifically pick the Wisconsin game as a targeted return when Thompson left the second quarter against Illinois three weeks ago. It was a matter of Thompson feeling better and being physically able to “play at a high level.”

Chubba Purdy and Logan Smothers served as the two main backups to Thompson all season and both stepped into the limelight when Thompson went down. Since the start of the Illinois game, Purdy went 15-of-35 for 112 yards and two interceptions before a season-ending high ankle sprain against Michigan. Smothers went 10-of-19 for 96 yards in that same timeframe. Redshirt freshman Jarrett Synek did not throw against Michigan but Joseph said he would have been the No. 2 quarterback behind Smothers if Thompson was not able to play. Thompson, this season, is 141-of-224 for 2,023 yards with 12 touchdowns to 10 interceptions — he was 7-of-15 for 172 with a touchdown and two picks before leaving the Illinois game.

Joseph was confident Thompson could pick up where he left off come Saturday because of his high-caliber experience. Having Thompson back gives him and the offensive coaches more confidence in pushing the ball down the field.

“He’s going to be able to make sure we get in the right place, he’s going to be able to line the running back up,” Joseph said. “He’s our starting quarterback. We’ve been playing with our second guy and our third guy the last couple of weeks.”

The interim head coach told media on Thursday that he’s impressed with the younger emerging defenders. Javin Wright played 24 snaps in the secondary against Michigan and cornerback Malcolm Hartzog continued his progression as a starting true freshman. That’s in addition to freshman Ernest Hausmann, who coaches spoke highly of early in the week.

Joseph said Wisconsin brings a solid defense into Lincoln. The Huskers need to execute on offense in order to be successful against that unit.

The interim head coach said there’s no “Mickey magic” or secret formula in the works. Just a two-game season of determined, gritty football. There’s ending the 10-year drought against Wisconsin and then a rivalry game.

He also reiterated his plan for this team, and the program, revolves around telling people the truth. He’s been like that, “since I came out the womb.”

In addition to the dozen seniors who will walk on Senior Day Saturday, it’ll be the last time Joseph leads the Huskers through the tunnel, at least in an interim capacity. Callers on last night’s episode of Sports Nightly admired Joseph and hoped he stays at Nebraska. He’s thankful for those kindnesses while also acknowledging what is and isn’t beyond his control at this time.

“I’m sure Trev and them will do what’s best for the university,” Joseph said. “I always appreciate the support and my thing is I’m trying to help these kids move along and win the game and not focus on that because it’s not about me.”

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