LINCOLN — Nebraska’s starting quarterback will be back on the field this weekend against Michigan State after missing Saturday’s road trip to Purdue.
Junior Tommy Armstrong, previously sidelined by a turf toe, practiced every day this week — and he appeared to gain mobility by the day, coach Mike Riley said.
“I thought he was quick and fast,” Riley said.
Armstrong said Monday that he felt much better after using last week to recover. Backup quarterback Ryker Fyfe started against Purdue, throwing for 407 yards but committing five turnovers in a 55-45 loss.
In other injury news: Right tackle Nick Gates (foot) will start Saturday, Riley said. Defensive tackle Kevin Williams (hand), linebacker Chris Weber (neck) and linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey (groin) are expected to contribute as well.
Riley said he’s “encouraged” by receiver Brandon Reilly’s improving status, but he hasn’t practiced much full-speed this week because of a toe injury. Riley said he’s “hopeful” that receiver Alonzo Moore (arm) will return to action. Starting I-back Terrell Newby (ankle) remains questionable.
Cornerback Daniel Davie (dislocated finger) will wear a cast Saturday, but he’s only available in an emergency role, Riley said.
Sterup earns spot on line
Senior Zach Sterup impressed the Nebraska coaches while subbing for an injured Gates at right tackle this month, so he’ll remain in the starting lineup.
Sterup just will be playing a new position.
The Huskers moved Sterup to right guard this week, which is where he’ll start Saturday. Riley said Sterup, who’s listed at 6-foot-8, looked “pretty comfortable” at his new spot in practice.
Senior Chongo Kondolo has started all nine games at right guard. Redshirt freshman Jerald Foster is listed as the top backup at both guard spots.
But Riley said Sterup is smart and deserving.
“We think because of the way he’s been playing that he should play,” Riley said.
Morgan to return kickoffs
Riley said he has “mixed emotions” about burning the redshirt of true freshman Jordan Stevenson, who appears to have lost his job as NU’s kickoff returner.
Freshman Stanley Morgan will start Saturday’s game as the team’s top option on kickoffs, Riley said. If Reilly is healthy, he’ll be the No. 2 guy.
Stevenson didn’t have a kickoff return at Purdue last week because he was sick, Riley said. Morgan recorded a 42-yard return Saturday, the Huskers’ longest of the season.
Riley wasn’t ready Thursday to express regret over deciding to play Stevenson, who appeared on track to redshirt until the season’s sixth game.
“I think our intentions and his desires were good,” Riley said. “Only the future will tell.”
Recruits will be watching
Riley’s been pleased with Nebraska’s ability to persuade prospective players to visit campus on game days. Saturday’s group of recruits could be the biggest yet.
Credit the 6 p.m. kickoff for that.
“We’ve been fortunate with this one to have it a little bit later, and that has allowed us actually to get more guys to the game,” Riley said.
Riley said he and the staff are still figuring out how to best market the Husker program during the season. He likes what they’ve done so far.
Nebraska will be looking to sign at least 22 recruits in its 2016 class, though that number could grow.
“I would say right now for sure I think a number to talk about is 22,” Riley said. “That could change with our current roster, if somebody decides they might want to leave for more playing time or something like that. So you can play around that 22 number. Probably not lower than that.”
Riley prefers traditional look
Riley said a few Husker players mentioned to him Thursday that Nebraska should consider sporting an all-red uniform combination for home games.
Riley’s not so sure. He seems to prefer NU’s traditional look.
“I was real excited to get back to red and white on the road. And then, I like the red tops at home, and the white pants,” Riley said. “If we could just stay that consistent like that, that would be great with me.”
Nebraska wore red pants at Purdue, the first time this season it didn’t play in the all-white uniforms on the road. The Huskers wore their alternate uniforms — black jersey and black pants — for a home game against Northwestern two weeks ago.