Quarterback Casey Thompson will not suit up for Nebraska’s game against Michigan on Saturday. Interim head coach Mickey Joseph announced the decision on Thursday morning in his final meeting with local media before the Huskers leave for Ann Arbor.
Joseph said Thompson did not practice during the week but threw lightly on Wednesday and Thursday. Nebraska’s starting quarterback for Saturday’s game will be revealed at game time. The interim head coach said both Chubba Purdy and Logan Smothers practiced well this week. Earlier in the week, he said coaches would determine who starts between the two based on the week of practice, as well as performances in the Minnesota game.
“They practiced well but you don’t get graded on practice,” Joseph said on Thursday. “You get graded on game day. So it’s about who can manage the team on game day.
“It’s just like I say about coaching. This would be a great profession if you didn’t have to play the games. But you’ve got to play the games. So they’ve got to be able to manage this team through the game.”
Thompson tried convincing coaches he could play last week and this week. Throughout his status on the sidelines he continued coming to meetings and encouraged both Purdy and Smothers during practice.
Nebraska’s head coach was asked whether the offensive system has to adjust to fit its starting quarterback. He immediately thought of the first adjustment.
“The No. 1 thing they’ve got to do is they’ve got to be able to hand that ball off,” he said. “Hand the ball off, slow it down. That’s what we’ve got to do.”
The Huskers will get Gabe Ervin Jr. back for the Michigan game after he missed time with a turf toe injury. That leaves Nebraska with Anthony Grant, Jaquez Yant, Ervin and Rahmir Johnson in the backfield.
Joseph himself hasn’t coached at Michigan Stadium and shared his faith in the University of Michigan to ensure no more dust ups in the tunnel happen again. Recorded incidents involving Penn State and Michigan State went viral earlier this season, including an ongoing investigation in the Michigan State case. Nebraska played at Rutgers earlier this season, which also utilizes one tunnel for both teams.
As for on-the-field approaches, Joseph encouraged the team to embrace the opportunity to play the third-ranked team in the country. The former Nebraska quarterback hasn’t seen Nebraska back down or throw in the white flag against any opponent even before he arrived in the spring. He saw their hard work yield little results. He also told the team that Michigan is still playing for the top seed in the College Football Playoff. Playing a team of that caliber is an opportunity for the Huskers.
“The guys came out this morning with a great attitude, I thought they were detailed the entire practice,” he said. “I loved their focus in all three phases of the game. I think they understand we have to play at a high level and a great football team. It’s one of the great venues of college football you can play in. So we’ve got to be ready for the challenge and I think they’re going to be ready for it.”