Last week I talked about why one of the biggest question marks the Nebraska Cornhuskers are facing heading into the 2014 season could be at the quarterback position.
Many feel Tommy Armstrong Jr. proved himself more than capable of handling the most scrutinized position in the entire state of Nebraska. Others fear it is way too soon to start making comparisons to another Husker quarterback with his first name. So what does Armstrong need to do to succeed as the signal caller this year?
First let's take a look back at what we saw a year ago. Many of the stats were great, including the one that matters most: wins. Armstrong was 7-1 as a starter. He showed himself to be a legitimate dual-threat quarterback.
But let's be honest, the thing we remember most about Armstrong's freshman campaign is the turnovers. He threw eight interceptions; some coming at a crucial time, including one against Northwestern that led to what should have been the game-winning touchdown. If my math is right, that means one out every 16 Armstrong passes went to the other team.
Let's not forget about the fumbles. Two of them came against Michigan State, at home, and buried the Huskers before the first quarter was over.
Armstrong says he's been hard at work making sure he doesn't make the same mistake(s) twice. We've heard that song and dance before with Taylor Martinez. So what's different with Armstrong? Last year you could see him develop a rapport with several receivers. It wasn't just the "chuck it up and pray for the best" that we saw during the Martinez era. And it doesn't hurt Armstrong by having most of those targets back in 2014.
So how's this for a little pick-me-up? Armstrong said of the 300 passes he threw during competitive drills this spring there were just three interceptions. That's one percent of his throws instead of 16 percent. Now let's see if that translates into success against actual competition.
If you are looking for signs of growth here are two things to keep an eye on: 1. Is Armstrong making his reads, and 2. Will he panic? Offensive coordinator Tim Beck isn't putting much pressure on young Mr. Armstrong. Beck said if the read isn't right the best thing for Tommy to do is tuck it and run; a two-yard gain is something they can live with, an interception isn't.
You hate to hear the term "game manager", but that is all Armstrong really needs to be this year to be a success. He is surrounded by loads of talent. It sounds simple, but if Armstrong cuts down on the mistakes, he will make huge strides in 2014.
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