Redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong and senior Ron Kellogg knew all week long that they’d be splitting reps at quarterback during Saturday’s game.
It’s what offensive coordinator Tim Beck told them at the beginning of the week (when starter Taylor Martinez wasn’t practicing and everyone was assuming he’d be out).
“I told them both early, that no matter who won the starting job, I was going to play both guys,” Beck said.
So that’s what happened during Nebraska’s 59-20 win. Armstrong got the start, but Kellogg was in for the Huskers’ third drive. Then Armstrong for one, and Kellogg for one. Kellogg got the nod during NU’s two-minute drill right before halftime because he performed better in practice in those scenarios, Beck said. But Armstrong was given an extra series in the second half just to even things back out.
They finished with similar numbers. Armstrong: 12-of-15 for 169 yards and a touchdown (he also ran five times for 38 yards). Kellogg: 8-of-9 for 136 yards and a touchdown (he ran twice for 6 yards).
Here’s the review on both from Beck: “I constantly talked to them this week — they don’t have to win us the game. Sometimes I think Taylor feels that. … Those guys kind of went out realizing, ‘I’ve just got to do what Coach tells me to do and function within the offense and let my guys go make the plays and win the game.’” Beck said he was “really impressed” with the way Armstrong and Kellogg played.
Martinez is expected to return to practice next week, a bye week.
Now, on to the defense …
Coach Bo Pelini was not pleased as he met with reporters. A snippet of his opening statement: “I thought that was our worst performance defensively, for a lot of reasons. Just fundamentally, technique-wise. Don’t like the number — way too many — of missed assignments and just basic things that there’s just no excuse for. Like I just told the defense, I said, ‘We’ve got to make up our mind of what we’re going to be and how we’re going to approach it. Because we can’t play like that.’ We have a lot of work to do, and it starts with us coaches.”
Defensive coordinator John Papuchis spoke with a similar sense of urgency after the game. Said Papuchis: “We’ve got to do some real evaluating, some real soul-searching, as players and as coaches. And figure out what we’re going to go forward with.”
Nebraska’s defense played with relatively simple responsibilities Saturday, yet still made lots of mistakes. The players’ mentality and attitude is a concern. Pelini spent the first seven minutes of his press conference talking about all that.
Can these issues be corrected?
“I work in the business of getting it fixed. And I take it as a challenge right now, to get this thing fixed,” Pelini said. “We’ll find the right combination and we’ll find a way. I’ve always been able to do that. I feel confidence we’re going to be able to do it. I’ll get this fixed. Trust me, there.”