Head coach Mike Riley met with the media following Thursday’s practice, addressing the one topic on everyone’s minds: Injuries. First and foremost, Riley provided an update on quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. who has been sidelined with a hamstring injury.
“You know, he’s still not practiced at this point,” Riley said. “We are still going to see what he’s like tomorrow and we’ll go from there. Obviously the other part is that we’ve prepared Ryker [Fyfe] and Zack Darlington. Patrick O’Brien will be the third guy that we hope we don’t play.”
When asked if Armstrong’s final status could be a Saturday morning decision, Riley said it definitely could be. As for what will determine whether or not Armstrong plays, Riley said it’s a combination of things.
“It’s certainly how he feels but it’s also what kind of risk do we take in making it worse,” Riley said. “The hamstring is a mystery. You really don’t know until you go and you could make it worse. We don’t want to do that. We want to be sure. That’s why we haven’t done much with him at this point. Those things take time so we’re going to let it continue. He’s been getting a ton of rehab but it’s been interesting.”
On to other news and notes from Thursday’s practice:
>> After mild temperatures all week at practice, it was a bit more brisk Thursday. Riley joked about it.
“Welcome to winter,” Riley said. “It’s not even bad. It’s pretty nice, pretty good.”
Saturday is expected to be even colder though, which Riley thinks may play a part in the final decision on Armstrong.
“When you’re talking about this day and age and what people can do to get warmed up and play…” Riley said. “It might enter into it and it certainly might cause a little more at risk and probably will be a part of the conversation about how he gets ready to see if he can play.”
>> Center Dylan Utter practiced and Riley said he “felt pretty good” and “looked good.”
As for running back Devine Ozigbo, he also practiced on Thursday and had a good day.
“Looks as good as he’s looked in two or three weeks,” Riley said. “That feels better.”
>> On the defensive side of things, Riley called linebacker Dedrick Young is doubtful for Saturday.
“Dedrick Young is going to be at this stage right now doubtful,” Riley said. “We’re to the point where we just want him to get better and feel good. He has not really practiced yet so I’d say it’s doubtful.”
>> Cornerbacks coach Brian Stewart – who was previously the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at Maryland – has been providing insight to the team throughout the week. Riley said he found that to be helpful.
“Brian has been able to give input on both sides of the ball about some of the people that are there,” Riley said. “I think it’s been good insight and hopefully helpful.”
>> Alabama has been using Trent Richardson on its scout team, which has caused quite a commotion in college football. What did Riley think about using a former player on Nebraska’s scout team?
“My first question was, ‘How is that legal?’ But it is,” Riley said. “It’s kind of a remote thing. A guy has to be back in school full-time to be eligible. It would be a limited amount of people that would qualify for that but certainly interesting, I will say.”
Riley’s not sure who he’d pick to return for Nebraska, but said the Huskers would have plenty of good options if someone ever came back to school full-time.
>> Nebraska granted the wish of a young boy named Jack, who wanted to be a Husker football player. He spent Thursday with the team, which Riley really enjoyed.
“We’ve had a lot of fun,” Riley said. “He got a scholarship offer and he signed his letter [of intent] with his school and met with the team today, got his playbook. Pretty fun day.”
Jack will also spend Saturday with the team getting the full player experience.
>> In addition to Saturday’s game, it is also senior day. Riley said he’s been working to balance the emotions of the team so that the game preparation doesn’t get lost.
“From my position, you have to accept it as a good thing and it’s a great celebration for these kids,” Riley said. “It’s, I would say, fairly emotional but I think the other part we have to maintain is that we still have to play a football game. We try to hit the reality of that all week long but we’re going to have a nice celebration of this thing. It’s a good thing but there will be a football game and we have to be ready for it and the best way to go out and play well in this stadium is to play well and win.”
As for how the late punter Sam Foltz will play into Saturday’s senior day celebration, Riley said he’s pleased with the plans.
“Sam was an integral part of this group of kids that are going to be playing their last game here,” Riley said. “It seems like we’ve seen Gerald and Jill [Foltz] here quite a bit in the last couple of, three weeks. For me, for Sam, for all of us because you guys knew him, it’s going to be sad but there’s things that make you smile about Sam Foltz. It just makes you thankful at this point. I know it will be … There’s going to be a special part of senior day that is for Sam and it’s perfect. It’s the way it should be.”
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.