Husker notes: Will Tommy Armstrong be back for Minnesota? Too early to tell

If Tommy Armstrong can't play next week, Ryker Fyfe will be Nebraska's starting quarterback.

Nebraska coach Mike Riley said after NU’s 62-3 loss to Ohio State that he wasn’t sure if quarterback Tommy Armstrong — knocked unconscious during a second-quarter play — would be able to play next week against Minnesota. The Huskers would know more, Riley said, on Sunday.

If Armstrong can’t go, backup Ryker Fyfe will be NU’s starter. He last started against Purdue, a 55-45 Husker loss last season.

Fyfe completed 5 of 18 passes for 52 yards and one interception on Saturday. As Armstrong lay motionless on the ground, Fyfe had to warm up.

“You feel bad, but I had to get myself going,” Fyfe said. “I know everybody’s making sure he’s OK.”

One of Fyfe’s first plays in the game was one of NU’s most important: A failed fourth-and-one inside the Ohio State 20. Instead of running the ball, the Huskers chose a playaction pass that required running back Devine Ozigbo to block OSU defensive end Tyquan Lewis.

“We missed a block, I had pressure in my face, I tried to dump it off,” Fyfe said. “I got hit. Incomplete. We tried getting them with playaction boot. Didn’t work.”

Fyfe said he’ll prepare for the Gophers as if he will play. Fyfe said the gameplan will be different for him than it would be for Armstrong.

“I don’t know what they’d do — probably throw out some zone read and put in some more passes and different runs,” Fyfe said. “Either way, I’ve still got to go out and execute. There are no excuses.”

Back to basics for NU

Nebraska coach Mike Riley doesn’t want to change a “whole bunch of plans” after the loss to Ohio State.

He wants to focus on how the Huskers are handling the fundamentals.

“The tackling, the position on the blocks, the blocking — kind of getting back to playing football and running a play — whether it’s offense, defense, special teams — and make it look like football,” Riley said. “This game came out of the blue to me.”

Riley said NU can’t let a loss like this get it off track.

“This team will respond,” Riley said. “It’s pretty raw right now to say that, and it probably doesn’t look very good, but we’ve played through hard games, hard times, played our best ball in fourth quarters of games.”

Turnover woes

Nebraska failed to come out plus in the turnover battle for the seventh time in the last nine games. The Huskers had two interceptions — both returned for touchdowns — and its only takeaway came on a muffed punt by Ohio State.

Since being plus-seven in turnovers after two games, Nebraska is minus-three since.

The lone game where NU had a plus margin since the Wyoming game was against Purdue two weeks ago, when the Boilermakers had two and the Huskers just one.

Tough day for defense

The Blackshirts had a hard time stopping just about everything in Ohio State’s offense. It wasn’t for lack of adjustments, defensive coordinator Mark Banker said.

“We had some subtle line movements,” Banker said, “different ways to cancel the gaps inside. … We changed up the back end a little bit, single-safety high as opposed to two-safety high. But never found a formula.”

Afterward, Banker answered questions about the talent gap of Ohio State. He respects the Buckeyes, he said, “but we’re not 60 points a lesser team than they are.”

Numbers game

10,254: Tommy Armstrong accounted for 93 yards of total offense, including 19 rushing yards and 74 passing yards. He increased his career total to 10,254 yards, setting a new Nebraska career record in that category. He surpassed the previous record of 10,233 yards by Taylor Martinez. Armstrong set the record on a 32-yard second-quarter completion to Jordan Westerkamp.

Armstrong moved to into a tie for ninth in Big Ten history in total offense, passing Martinez and tying Iowa’s Chuck Long (10,254 yards).

9: Nebraska linebacker Josh Banderas had nine tackles, marking his fourth straight game with eight or more tackles.

258: Nathan Gerry had a season-high-tying nine tackles to increase his career total to 258, good for eighth place on the Nebraska career tackles list and second among Husker defensive backs. Gerry passed Jim Wightman (254), Marc Munford (256) and Ed Stewart (257).

Things to ponder

Nebraska dropped to 1-4 all-time against Ohio State, including 0-4 in Columbus. ... The crowd of 108,750 was the fourth-largest ever to see a Nebraska football game. ... The 59-point loss was Nebraska’s largest under Mike Riley. The previous largest margin of defeat was 10 points at Purdue last season. ... Nebraska lost consecutive road games in the same season for the first time since joining the Big Ten in 2011. The only previous time Nebraska has lost two straight Big Ten road games was the final road conference game of 2011 at Michigan and the first road Big Ten game of 2012 at Ohio State. ... Ohio State improved to 16-4 in night games at Ohio Stadium. ... The attendance of 108,750 was the second-highest in Ohio Stadium history. ... Ohio State has won six of its last seven matchups against Top 10 opponents.

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Reporter - Sports

Dirk writes stories and columns about Husker football in addition to covering general assignments and enterprise for The World-Herald. Follow him on Twitter @dirkchatelain. Phone: 402-444-1062.

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