Nebraska coach Mike Riley and quarterback Tommy Armstrong took their share of blame Monday for the disastrous third-and-7 play that stopped the clock at the end of a 14-13 loss to Illinois.
Instead of burning clock in the final minute with a designed quarterback run, Armstrong tossed a pass to freshman running back Devine Ozigbo, who couldn't corral the ball, which was thrown behind him. The game clock stopped, giving Illinois much more time to drive for the game-winning touchdown.
Armstrong conceded that the play call came to him "tagged" as a run.
"We got the play call in with eight seconds left on the clock," Armstrong said. "We actually had to have a tight end motion over — couldn't get the motion over in time. We snapped the ball, faked to the running back. The play was originally a pass, but it was tagged a run for me. But my whole mindset was (the defender) was probably two yards in front of me when I turned around, didn't want to lose any yards, saw Devine open, tried to get him the ball.
"If it was a catch, no one would talk about it today. He dropped it. It's on me. I was supposed to run the ball. I didn't run the ball. I tried to at least give him a chance to get the first down. I didn't want to get out of field goal range. My whole mindset was: If I lose yards, maybe we're out of field goal range."
Riley elected not to kick that field goal. He went for it on fourth down, instead. Riley said the management of the play was ultimately his fault.
"We reiterated it was a run — it was a run — but I don't blame him," Riley said of Armstrong. "I blame myself for the training of it. He just reacted — he had a guy too fast in his face and just reacted."
Armstrong said he was "fine" in the wake of the loss and not focused on criticism or fans.
"I've been in tougher situations than this," he said. "I'm fine. I'm going to play for my team, play for my coaches. I don't play for nobody else but them. I play for my family, but that's about it. That's my mindset. Those guys are my family. What they think matters. I don't let any other outside force drive me. I play how I am."