LINCOLN — Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong’s status for Saturday morning’s game against Maryland may go down to the wire after the fifth-year senior didn’t practice Thursday.
Armstrong wore his jersey and a hooded sweatshirt to practice. Backup Ryker Fyfe took all the snaps with the No. 1 unit. Fyfe’s backups are Zack Darlington — who has converted back to quarterback from his slot receiver spot — and Patrick O’Brien, a true freshman Nebraska does not intend to play because it wants to protect his redshirt status.
Coach Mike Riley said he and trainers will evaluate Armstrong’s status Friday and “go from there.” Later in his short press conference, Riley said a decision on Armstrong’s status will be a combination of how he feels and whether he could further injure his hamstring.
“The hamstring is a mystery,” Riley said. “You really don’t know until you really go, and then you can make it worse. We don’t want to do that. We want to be pretty sure. That’s why we haven’t done much with him. Those things take time. He’s getting a ton of rehab — all that stuff — so it’ll be interesting.”
Riley said the expected cold temps for the morning game — it could be in the 30s or 40s at kickoff — might be a factor in whether Armstrong plays.
Fyfe had a good week of practice, Riley said.
“I liked it a lot, as a matter of fact,” Riley said. “I was real excited. And it culminated in a real nice Thursday, which I consider a kind of dress rehearsal day. I thought he did a nice job today. Threw some nice, sharp balls. Very confident. The practice was crisp. The execution was good. I think the kids respond well to Ryker. He’s been around a long time.”
Fyfe started last season in a 55-45 loss to Purdue. He threw for 407 yards and four touchdowns in the game, but he also accounted for five turnovers. Fyfe’s most extended game action other than the Purdue start came at Ohio State in relief of Armstrong. Fyfe did not play well, completing 5 of 18 passes and throwing an interception, but NU trailed 24-3 when he entered the game.
In other injury news, center Dylan Utter will start Saturday after practicing Thursday. He missed practice on Tuesday and Wednesday while recovering from an ankle injury suffered when Jerald Foster stepped on his foot. I-back Devine Ozigbo — who has 13 carries in the last four games while battling an ankle injury — looked as good as he has in three weeks, Riley said. Linebacker Dedrick Young is doubtful for Saturday’s game because of an ankle injury. His backup is Marcus Newby.
» Riley said he thinks the Senior Day moment planned for Husker punter Sam Foltz — who died this summer in a car accident — will be “sad” but also “special.”
“It’s perfect,” Riley said. “It’s the way it should be.”
» Riley said it would be “significant” for Nebraska to win all of its home games this season. The Huskers are currently 6-0.
“One of the factors that I’ve always kind of believed in: You can have a pretty good season if you win your home games,” Riley said. “That’s a pretty good starting point.”
» Nebraska cornerbacks coach Brian Stewart was Maryland’s defensive coordinator in 2014; Riley said Stewart has been helpful in analyzing the personnel on both sides of the ball for the Terrapins.
» Jack Johnson, the 8-year-old profiled in Wednesday’s World-Herald, was part of practice on Thursday. Johnson, through Make-A-Wish Nebraska, conducted a press conference earlier in the day and hung out with Husker players, walking into the stadium with Armstrong. He also got a Husker playbook.
“For us to be included was a privilege,” Riley said. “It was great to meet the whole family.”
» Riley said he’d consider using a former Husker on the scout team — as Alabama has done — but figured it would be used on a “remote” basis with a player who was a full-time student.
“Certainly interesting, I’ll say,” Riley said.