LINCOLN, Neb. — Senior quarterback Tommy Armstrong could be cleared to play as early as Friday, Nebraska coach Mike Riley said after practice on Thursday.
After being knocked unconscious and taken to the hospital during last Saturday’s game against Ohio State, Armstrong practiced for the first time on Thursday. He wore a green jersey and was not allowed to have any contact.
Riley said if he is asymptomatic Friday, Armstrong could be cleared to play against Minnesota.
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Riley said in practice Armstrong was able to do most of what Nebraska usually does in Thursday practice, which is relatively little. Armstrong did throw the ball and call some plays.
Armstrong practicing indicates good news, but Riley squashed any rumors that Armstrong’s injury is either more than it seems or less than it seems.
“He would not, in this world here at Nebraska and mostly at our sports world today, if there was anything about neck, back, further concussion stuff, we wouldn’t even be talking about this,” Riley said.
Riley said the decision on whether Armstrong will play will come down to the trainers and doctors.
As of right now, if Armstrong is not cleared, senior Ryker Fyfe will be the starting quarterback. Holder and wide receiver Zack Darlington would be the backup.
Offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf said Wednesday the offense could change a bit with Fyfe as the quarterback. If Armstrong is cleared to play and does start, Riley on Thursday said he doesn’t anticipate the offense changing at all from Nebraska’s previous games.
Rounding out the injury report, Riley said sophomore offensive lineman Jerald Foster will play for the first time this season. Foster was out with a knee injury he suffered in fall camp. The only thing Riley said he’s worried about for Foster is conditioning.
“We are going to play him, exactly how we do that is not decided,” Riley said. “He looks ready, feels good and he’s been totally cleared by our medical staff.”
Cole Conrad will start for David Knevel at right tackle. Knevel has been struggling with an ankle injury for a few weeks. Tanner Farmer, who was taken out of the Ohio State game with a knee injury, is back and will play as well.
The addition of Foster is a key considering Nebraska’s offensive line has been hobbled with injuries the past few weeks and hasn’t performed particularly well. With more healthy linemen, Riley likes Nebraska’s ability to run the ball, something it hasn’t done effectively in the past few weeks.
“We’ve been strengthened through some adversity,” Riley said about the injuries up front. “In the long run, as long as the football season is, it’ll help us.”
Riley said he was excited for the opportunity to play Minnesota (7-2, 4-2), take control of second place in the Big Ten West and break a two-game losing streak.
“I’m real fired up about our team’s opportunity to reset and play like we can,” Riley said. “I’m real excited for us to play and try to rebound.”