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Riley Talks Armstrong, Senior Class and Special Teams

November 14, 2016

Quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. is once again questionable to play after suffering a hamstring injury against Minnesota. As a result, head coach Mike Riley expects Armstrong to be day-to-day through the week.

“We’re going to approach it like we did a week ago,” Riley said. “We’re going to see how it goes.”

Armstrong also suffered an ankle injury against the Gophers, but Riley wasn’t as concerned with that.

“I think the ankle is OK,” Riley said. “If it was his ankle, we wouldn’t have to worry about him the next game but with the hamstring, it’s one of those mysterious things.”

When asked how Armstrong was walking on the hamstring injury, Riley noted he has a pretty significant limp. Regardless, Riley isn’t ready to imagine Armstrong not playing against Maryland.

“I don’t want to,” Riley said.

On to other news and notes from Monday’s press conference:

>> Armstrong was named the Big Ten offensive player of the week after his performance against Minnesota. This is second time he has been awarded the honor this season.

>> Aside from Armstrong, Riley addressed a couple of additional injuries, including linebacker Dedrick Young. While he was limited against Minnesota, Riley said he is progressing. Also, wide receiver Brandon Reilly is expected to participate more in practice this week.

>> Riley was critical of Nebraska’s special teams play after Saturday’s performance, including De’Mornay Pierson-El’s negative-3 return yards, Caleb Lightbourn’s negative-2 yard punt and the 12-men on the field call that led to a Gopher touchdown.

When it comes to the punt team specifically, Riley isn’t happy with what he’s seen so far this year.

“In general, it has been less than 50-50,” Riley said. “Protection is not always great. Caleb is young and erratic obviously, and at the same time has a lot of talent, is a good worker. I think continued development to work with him and coaching is a big factor.”

As for punt returns, Riley would like to see Pierson-El get more room to run.

While Riley was quick to say that there multiple coaching units for various aspects of special teams, the group’s successes and failures ultimately fall on Read’s shoulders. As a result, he is the man who has to answer to the team’s issues.

“He is ultimately responsible,” Riley said. “We certainly have to have a better job. There are some glaring things there that aren’t good.”

>> Reilly showed up to the press conference wearing Westerkamp’s No. 1 jersey. He said Westerkamp should “be more cocky for how good he is.”

>> Toward the end of Jerald Foster’s time at the podium, he received one final question. It came from his brother Trey Foster: “How would you characterize Trey Foster, since some people have said for you his relationship has been like a life coach, a role model, a hero. What words would you use?”

“OK, so if we’re going to break down Trey, we’ve got to first start off with how he has a great younger brother,” Jerald said. “The kid is amazing. He’s knows exactly what he needs to do. You know, it’s kind of like he’s a leader. He leads his brother. He just tells him what he needs to do, definitely when he’s out on the field. Trey doesn’t really know what’s going on, but with the brother – What is his name? Is it D.J. Foster? Is that his name? Jerald? You know, one of those names – that kid definitely helps him out. He’s a good guy. We’re talking about D.J., weren’t we? That guy’s great. Great guy.”

>> Saturday’s matchup with Maryland is also Nebraska’s Senior Day. Riley confirmed that Sam Foltz’s family will be on the field to honor their son during the celebrations.

As for this year’s senior class, Riley said he wishes he could have had more time with them but is grateful for the time he did have.

“I’m really glad I got to coach this group,” Riley said.

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