The lights shine bright for Husker football players in the Cornhusker State. Consider how on game day Saturdays, Memorial Stadium turns into the state’s third largest populated area.
All eyes focus to the light green/dark green patterned field at One Stadium Drive, and they often look longest and hardest at the man taking snaps from under center.
At Big Ten media days on July 28 in Chicago, head coach Bo Pelini was asked about the quarterback situation heading into his team’s fall camp, specifically how he would assess the state of the quarterback competition between Tommy Armstrong and Johnny Stanton.
“Now that you mentioned Johnny Stanton and you mentioned Tommy Armstrong, there’s also a walk-on young man, Ryker Fyfe, who I think will have a little bit to say about who our starting quarterback is.
And I would say because of his starting experience, I would say Tommy has a little bit of a leg up going in. But Johnny Stanton and Ryker Fyfe are tremendous talents, the kids who did very well in the spring.”
Pelini’s answer was masterful in coachspeak, but it’s clear that he likes all three of the young men in competition to lead his offense.
As the coach mentioned, Armstrong the experience edge. The sophomore from Cibolo Steele High School started eight games in 2014 after Taylor Martinez’s injuries finally caught up to him and split time with Ron Kellogg III.
To say Armstrong was anything but average would be a stretch, though he showed flashes of what could be. Turnovers and flat out erratic passing put the offense in a bad spot more than once.
A prime example came against Michigan State when Armstrong turned the football over three times leading to the Spartans getting the ball inside Husker territory, including at its own three-yard line.
It is clear Pelini and offensive coordinator Tim Beck won’t simply hand over the reins to Armstrong.
The Husker head man continued:
“I think it’s going to be an open competition. Like I said, I think when we line up day one, it will be Tommy will walk out there take the first snap. Because he has the most experience.
He kind of earned that right through the spring. But I think the competition is, gosh, very good. I think it’s going to make all three of those guys better.”
Fyfe played extensively in the 2014 Red/White Spring Game and by most accounts looked good. He throws a good ball and can run well. His stat line in the spring game included five rushes for 44 yards and 9 of 12 passing effort for 89 yards and a touchdown.
Like Fyfe, Stanton had a very good spring including an 8 for 12 day with 135 yards and two touchdowns in the air.
I’d be hard-pressed to believe Armstrong will be anything other than the starting quarterback on August 30 against Florida Atlantic at this point. Six to eight weeks in to the season if things aren’t going well? That’s where things get interesting.
I think Coach Pelini said it best:
“The guys who make a mistake of worrying about where they are or who they’re repping with how many reps I’m getting or anything like that, a lot of times it leads them to worrying about things other than what they need to control.
And that’s control what you can control. Be the best football player you can be and trust your coaches that if you earn it, you’re going to be the one on that spot.”
Tommy Armstrong controls his own destiny at No. 1 on the depth chart, but this race won’t end even after August 30.
Competition breeds champions and Nebraska needs a champion.
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