What Does NU Need from Tommy Armstrong in 2014?

It goes without saying that quarterback is a very important position on a football team, if not the most vital one.  That said, how much do we really know about Tommy Armstrong heading into 2014?  What do we need him to do for NU to win 9 games or to win 11?


His Freshman Campaign
Armstrong won 7 games in 8 starts.  At that rate, he could lead NU to 11 or 12 wins.  His debut against South Dakota State was nearly flawless.  He was similarly effective in an easy victory over Illinois.  He had a very poor passing day against Purdue as he threw 3 interceptions and completed just 6 of 18 passes.  He had another 3-pick day against Northwestern, though he did some damage with his legs.  He had an efficient day at Michigan, which was crucial to the victory.  If not for his fumbles, you'd say he had a reasonably good day against Michigan State with 2 touchdowns against 1 interception.  But those extra two turnovers were killers.  He left the field early with an injury in a scoreless contest with Penn State.  He did not play in the loss to Iowa.  He helped deliver the victory over Georgia with a pair of touchdown passes to Quincy Enunwa.  The 99-yarder elevated not only his day but his season numbers.  His pass efficiency for the year was 124.3 (it would have been 115.6 without the miracle pass).

How it Compares
While Armstrong was less efficient than Taylor Martinez was over his freshman campaign, he nearly matched the passer rating that Martinez tallied as a sophomore or Zac Lee as a junior.  It was actually better than Zac Taylor's first year at Nebraska.  It was better than any year by Jammal Lord or Joe Dailey.  It was better than Tommie Frazier's rating in 1994.  It matched Eric Crouch's passing numbers in his Heisman year (also a year that Nebraska played for a national championship).  It was in the neighborhood of Scott Frost's senior year (a national championship season) or Tommie Frazier's sophomore year (a near miss of the title).     

What it Means
Certainly you can see that your team can have a lot of success with a quarterback about as efficient as Armstrong.  At the same time, those numbers are hardly elite nor guarantee success.  If he stays around his current level, he'll need to complement those skills with his own running ability (so far, pretty pedestrian for an NU quarterback).  It will also matter what's happening around him.  It certainly helps that he has a back like Ameer Abdullah behind him.  Frost certainly benefited from having Ahman Green who might be the best back at NU over the last 20 years not named Abdullah.  The defense will certainly have to do their part as well.  Nebraska doesn't beat Georgia or Michigan without some critical plays by the defense.

NU has already shown it can win with Armstrong.  But he'll likely need to raise his game if he's going to elevate the Huskers beyond the four-loss plateau.

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Comments 12 comments so far

First and foremost, NU needs Tommy Armstrong to PROTECT THE BALL and DO NOT COMMIT TURNOVERS.  For the one person who touches the ball every offensive possesion, he needs to tighten up his decision making.  Make his progressions better when passing, and stay away from hesitation on running the option.  Taylor Martinez’s biggest downfall next to his throwing mechanics was his lack of decisiveness in the option.  Whether it was from his injuries, or confusing defenses, he didn’t make enough reads on the option.  Armstrong has the arm to make defenses respect him enough.  The play calling has to put him in a position to succeed as well.  Stop throwing that damned bubble screen that never works…utilize the TE (do we even have TE’s anymore?) more, hand the ball off to Ameer, or keep it.  Hell, they should go retro and use a fullback for the option.  Run the ball first, then work the short-intermediate passes.  Once the opposing defenses focus on stopping the run, go deep.  Set up the pass with a punishing run game (Stanford, Mich. St., Wisconsin) and give the defense a lead that will allow them to pin their ears back and go after the QB…that’s Football 101.

I agree with pretty-much everything Rob10 said.  I am really not too concerned about Tommy.  I just want us to return to ball control oriented offensive schemes that expose the deep threat when the opposing D is getting tired.

Putting Cross in the FB position in the ‘retro’ style Rob is talking about would be more than enough of a threat to get opposing DB to stay home.

What Rob 10 said.

I think TA just needs to keep growing into his potential, which I see as potentially very very good, or great.  Seems to have great competitive and leadership skills.  Maybe a little more speed could help, but other thatn that, I think he will be difficult to unseat from the position.

I’d like to see Johnny “Tebow” Stanton and Darlington really get their fair shots in spring and fall camp. I do like Armstrong, especially his option game, but I don’t think he’s the most gifted QB on the roster, at least from a passing standpoint. Stanton was the most highly touted of the bunch for his overall makeup (size, speed, arm, playmaker, etc), not to mention finishing as an Elite 11 QB, and has the most upside in my opinion.

T-doggy and 580….I was able to watch some film on both armstrong and stanton and I have no doubt that if pelini gives both qbs equal practice reps that stanton will win the job!  He is no doubt the better qb!  One more thought,  you think bo is trying to get carl back on the staff?  Feels like it.

May the best man win.

TA, JS, ZD, I like them all.  It will be very interesting to see who separates from the pack, just as Ameer separated from those who would dare to compete with him for the RB spot.

No doubt, everyone…I agree.  Competition brings out the best AND worst in players.  Sink or swim.  Would love to see a situation where 2 QB’s are equal in being able to start (Frazier & Berringer).  Players pushing each other to perform better.  That’s competetion at its finest.  Martinez didn’t have that, or didn’t get challenged.  He was handed the “keys”.

Martinez had excellent physical ability.  He seemed to lack consistency, even when healthy.  He tended to ‘panic’ when pressed.  We didn’t see him consistently improve his overall game as he grew older.  He demonstrated flares of greatness, then huge flops during certain games.  Pelini invested everything in TMart.  For recruits, that meant no chance of playing until TMart either left the program or became hurt.  Kids who are recruited want to know that after a year or two, they will have that chance.  Pelini pretty much closed the door on competition at the QB spot for how many years?

Hopefully, with the door now open again at that top spot, NU will see better, more consistent QB play due to opportunity and real competition for that position.

Martinez paniced because are line (under barney) sucked.  He was scrambeling for his life at times, and when you have 300lb gorrillas after you, you have a tendency to make mistakes especially when you are a young QB.  I am not saying TM was the be all at QB but the timing of him becoming our QB wasn’t ideal.

scrambled like eggs…

gonna miss good ol’ Tater, ain’t no one like ‘im:


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