LINCOLN, Neb. – Huskers fans everywhere are waiting with bated breath to find out about the status of quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. for Saturday’s game against Minnesota, but they’ll have to wait a bit longer as Coach Mike Riley did not have any definitive news.
However, Armstrong does appear to be on track to play Saturday.
“He has gone through and passed all of the concussion protocol up to this point,” Riley said. “What will happen is we will find out if he is asymptomatic tomorrow and if he is then he’ll pass another day and then he could be cleared to play after that if everything goes smoothly.”
Armstrong did practice Thursday in a green no-contact jersey.
“He was able to actually do most of what we do in our Thursday practice which is relatively light,” Riley said. “But we run some team stuff, we run some pass skeleton stuff. He was in a green jersey and there was nobody even ever close to him as we practiced today. But he was able to run some plays.”
Riley said he doesn’t know when he’ll get the final ruling on Armstrong’s status; it’s out of his hands. That being said, if he had any reason to be especially worried about Armstrong, the quarterback wouldn’t be anywhere near the field.
“In this world here at Nebraska and mostly in our sports world today, if there was anything about neck, back, further concussion stuff, we wouldn’t even be talking about this,” Riley said. “This is a very strict protocol, very well done, and the beautiful thing for me – and I have this basic thought about injuries anyway – when somebody is considered hurt, they are given to the trainers. The trainer and the doctor do what they do and we don’t even talk about it until they give them back to us 100 percent. Because we will never go that way. If he is able to play, he is healthy.”
If Armstrong does get cleared and starts on Saturday, Riley said he’ll be ready to go and they won’t have to change the game plan for him.
“I would say that if Tommy is able to play, we won’t have to limit anything that is in the game plan,” Riley said. “We’re talking about a guy we’ve been with for about a year and three quarters considering seasons and he’s been able to stay up on the game plan during the week even though not practicing and getting some work Thursday, getting some work Friday. With a guy that’s played as many games as he has, I’m not really worried about that. The thing that, however, might be a little different depending on if Ryker and Tommy play is just what plays are called.”
On player who has been cleared and will play on Saturday is left guard Jerald Foster. The redshirt sophomore was expected to miss the season after tearing his MCL shortly before the season began, but he is already back and has been practicing.
“I’m really not worried too much about Jerald except for probably the conditioning of playing in a game,” Riley said. “We are going to play him. Exactly how we do that at this moment is not decided. We wanted to take a look at today’s practice before we finally decided something, but he looks ready, feels good, and again, he has been totally cleared by our medical staff.”
Riley also offered an update on right tackle David Knevel.
“I think David is getting healthier – I wouldn’t say he is healthy right now – but he’s healthier,” Riley said. “In the meantime, Cole Conrad will start there.”
Right guard Tanner Farmer is also back and practicing, meaning for the first time since before the season began, offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh will have both of his projected starting guards available. While those two were out, Sam Hahn and Corey Whitaker filled in and Riley said that experience should only help them during the stretch run of the season.
“With all this, I’ve really appreciated the work of Corey Whitaker,” Riley said. “Sam Hahn has just done a fabulous job and Sam – my guess is Sam and Jerald will in some fashion share that position coming up. We’ve been strengthened through some adversity with injuries and I think that in the long run as a football season is, it will help us.”
On the defensive side of the ball, the only position truly affected by injuries at this point is linebacker.
“Nobody that I mentioned [Dedrick Young, Marcus Newby, Michael Rose-Ivey and Chris Weber] that I would say is out right now,” Riley said. “We’ll look at how they responded today, but most all of them in some fashion – except Dedrick Young has been the most limited – everybody else has pretty much practiced and we anticipate them being able to play. We just want to keep progressing toward the game before I would say that is all final. It looks a lot better today than it did Monday.”
If Young isn’t ready to go, Weber appears to be the top option to take his place as the junior will slide from the middle to outside.
As for the game itself, it will be the first night game of the season at Memorial Stadium for the Huskers as kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. The Huskers’ most notable night game at home under Riley was last year’s win over Michigan State.
“I loved it,” Riley said. “I think that the first night game that we were here was South Alabama, and that was the beginning of kind of an eye-opener for me. It’s an electric stadium always, but especially at night. It’s exciting to play here. I’m real fired up about our team’s opportunity to kind of reset and play like we can. That’s the main thing for me. I know our fans will help us; I know the atmosphere will be great; but it will eventually become about the football and I’m real excited for us to play and try to rebound and play a good football team.”
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.