Published Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 12:01 am / Updated at 5:53 pm
Husker freshman QB Tommy Armstrong learning from mistakes

LINCOLN — As much as Tommy Armstrong wants it to be perfect, the Nebraska quarterback has been warned by offensive coordinator Tim Beck that it's not always going to be that way.

So it's those times — like last Saturday's second half against Northwestern — when Armstrong has the most to prove.

“They've just always told me to stay level-headed and that mistakes are going to happen, because I am young,” Armstrong said. “I try to fix that as much as I can. My coach always told me it's going to happen, but it's just how you respond.

“It was a rough second half for me, but I just want to play a full game without having those bumps and bruises.”

Armstrong plans to have that kind of fortitude Saturday, when the redshirt freshman makes his fifth career start at Michigan.

The work started Sunday, when Armstrong and fifth-year senior Ron Kellogg reviewed film from the Huskers' 27-24 comeback win against Northwestern. Among what they discussed were things that Armstrong did or didn't see on three second-half interceptions.

“Tommy's a freshman and he's going to learn from his mistakes,” Kellogg said. “As a quarterback, you don't want to have your head down and show the other team that you're defeated. So it's important for him to keep going forward.”

Join the conversation on the Big Red Today Facebook page.

Beck said Armstrong didn't recognize a blitz coming on his last interception, which defensive end Tyler Scott returned to the 7-yard line to set up the Wildcats' go-ahead field goal.

On the two previous pickoffs, Armstrong was stepping up in the pocket when he underthrew Alonzo Moore and scrambling to his left when he tried to force a ball to Moore in traffic. On the latter play, Armstrong also could have taken off running.

“A couple plays he was just trying to make some plays,” Beck said.

Nebraska was without juniors Kenny Bell and Jamal Turner in the second half against Northwestern, and Beck said there were communication errors with some young wideouts. Some of the mistakes reminded Beck of 2011, when he took over the offense and Taylor Martinez was a sophomore.

“It's kind of what we did our first year a little bit, where our passing game was just a hair off,” Beck said. “When we put it in, there was a lot of route reading and recognition, and we were off a little bit.”

Beck isn't surprised to see teams trying to confuse Armstrong more than they might do with Martinez, who had come into this season as a fourth-year starter. It won't get any easier Saturday with former Notre Dame, Florida and Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Greg Mattison on the opposite sideline at Michigan.

“My coaches tell me it's going to happen like that,” Armstrong said. “With me being young, they're going to throw a bunch of stuff at me. At the same time, I've just got to make sure I'm ready for that and make sure I study as much as I can for it.”

Armstrong said he already gets a daily education with what he sees from Beck and the Huskers' defense.

“I try to make it hard on him in practice,” Beck said. “I even make stuff up sometimes, just to show him.”

Pelini began the week by saying Armstrong would start again Saturday, and Armstrong said he appreciates the faith and trust of the Nebraska staff. In his previous four starts, Armstrong hasn't felt as if he's looking over his shoulder if he makes a mistake, and NU hasn't tinkered much with how it has rotated Kellogg — though it called on Kellogg to run its two-minute drill twice Saturday.

Armstrong was 10 for 12 for 124 yards midway through the second quarter against Northwestern, including a 3-yard touchdown pass to Quincy Enunwa. He then completed 5 of 17 throws as the Husker offense stalled.

That was after Armstrong threw three interceptions at Purdue on Oct. 12 after being turnover-free in his first two starts.

The 6-foot-1, 220-pounder from Cibolo, Texas, promised that he's anything but deterred by recent events, which Kellogg said is the most important thing.

“We need him as a leader,” Kellogg said. “He's young and he's still learning. He has a long career ahead of him and we're going to need him for the next four Big Ten games. It's crucial that he understands what happened on Saturday and move on from it.”

* * *

>> Video: The Big Red Today Show, Nov. 5:

Contact the writer: Rich Kaipust    |   402-444-1042    |  

Rich Kaipust is a staff writer for The Omaha World-Herald and covers Nebraska football and some general assignment tasks, including the College World Series and U.S. Olympic Swim Trials.

Read more related stories


< >
2013 college football preview
View our 2013 college football preview, a 26-page, three-part section filled with coverage of the Huskers, Big Ten conference and more.
Big Red Bowl Retrospective
See complete historical results, game recaps and photo coverage from the Nebraska Cornhuskers college football bowl game appearances, from the 1941 Rose Bowl up to today.
Big Ten football recruits
The World-Herald's Big Ten recruiting database contains every football recruit that signed with a Big Ten school from 2002 to 2011, complete with color-coded interactive map representations, player information, high-concentrations recruiting clusters and more.
Devaney Center timeline
Check out a World-Herald timeline to see the evolution of memorable moments at the Devaney Center, complete with photos, videos, memorable quotes and more.
Follow OWHbigred on Twitter
Looking for the latest Husker sports news from The Omaha World-Herald and Follow us on Twitter!
Husker scholarship distribution chart
Want to see how many scholarships NU has invested at each position? Wondering how the Huskers have appropriated their offers by class? Check out our handy chart to look further into how Bo Pelini has built his team.
Husker Signing Day 2013
The World-Herald's top-notch coverage of the Nebraska football's class of 2013, complete with videos, photos, articles, live recruit interviews, interactive components and more.
Husker turnovers: A slippery slope
Bo Pelini has coached 68 games at Nebraska. When NUís turnover margin is positive or even, the Huskers are 35-2. When they lose the turnover battle, theyíre 13-18. Why hasnít Nebraska joined the nationís elite? More than anything, itís turnovers.
Interactive: Bo Pelini's contract
View an interactive PDF of Pelini's revised contract signed by the NU football coach, complete with brief summaries of the legalese and insight into the document's finer points.
Interactive: Darin Erstad's contract (2012)
View an interactive PDF of NU baseball coach Darin Erstad's contract released in August 2012, complete with brief summaries of the legalese and insight into the document's finer points.
Interactive: Tim Miles' contract
View an interactive PDF of Tim Miles' contract signed by the Nebraska men's basketball coach on May 4, 2012, complete with brief legal explanations, comparisons to other Big Ten coaches and more.'s Big Ten coverage
Delivering the best news coverage and analysis of the Big Ten Conference, from and other top news outlets from around country.
Husker Recruiting: Changes shrink NU's sphere of influence
For decades, the Great Plains represented fertile recruiting ground for Tom Osborne's football program. Restoring that lost tradition won't be easy.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
The Jaipur in Rockbrook Village
Half Off Fine Indian Cuisine & Drinks! $15 for Dinner, or $7 for Lunch
Buy Now
< >