Nebraska Football: Tommy Armstrong Proves He's Taylor Martinez's Heir Apparent

Patrick RungeCorrespondent IApril 6, 2013

Photo credit - Patrick Runge
Photo credit - Patrick Runge

The 2013 season is still months away, but many Nebraska football fans are already dreaming about 2014. At the Spring Game on Saturday, Nebraska fans got their first look at redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong—the heir apparent to four-year starter Taylor Martinez.

On Armstrong’s first snap, he tucked and ran—and fumbled the ball. So, in some ways, Nebraska fans could recognize him as an NU quarterback right away.

But Armstrong recovered quickly from his early miscue, a fumble his Red squad did not lose. He started out on the ground, running the option and executing pitches more decisively as a redshirt freshman than Martinez has throughout his Nebraska career.

He showed vision and acceleration as he read the defense, made his decisions on options and attacked the holes he was given. Armstrong finished the game with 10 carries for 39 yards.

Armstrong got to show off his arm as well. He finished the game 5-of-7 for 102 yards and a 37-yard touchdown to Alonzo Moore. But the highlight of the game for Armstrong may have been the 32-yard strike he completed to Brandon Reilly. When the ball was thrown, Reilly was double-covered, and most fans thought the pass would be incomplete at best or intercepted at worst.

Instead, Armstrong dropped the ball into Reilly’s hands through an incredibly narrow window, giving the Red team a first down and keeping alive a drive that ultimately led to a missed field goal.

No, Armstrong’s performance wasn’t perfect. He did fumble twice—disturbingly similar to the man Armstrong aims to replace—although the Red team did not lose either fumble. But he did not throw an interception and did not seem at all fazed in directing the high-tempo scheme that offensive coordinator Tim Beck ran throughout the Spring Game.

So, for 2013, Nebraska fans can feel much more confident about their fate if Martinez were to go down with an injury. As one particularly smart and handsome analyst observed, senior Ron Kellogg III made a strong showing at the Spring Game that he would be a capable set of hands to run Nebraska’s offense if need be.

But more importantly, Armstrong showed—in his first opportunity before the Children of the Corn—that he has the kind of potential to give Nebraska fans confidence in the future of their signal-caller.


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