To say that this season has been a step backwards for Nebraska would be an understatement.
After getting fed up with winning nine games a year under Bo Pelini, the administration felt a change was needed to jumpstart a program that hasn’t been the same since the glory days of Tom Osborne.
Enter stage left … Mike Riley.
Under Riley Nebraska has looked like a team wandering the wilderness, wondering where it belongs and who exactly who it is. But it’s not all Riley’s fault.
Say what you will about some of the quirky play-calling, or the team chemistry, yada, yada, but there needs to be some significant improvement at the quarterback position.
It’s not like Tommy Armstrong doesn’t possess the skill set needed to take the ‘Huskers to the heights they desire. He has a strong arm, he can make plays with his feet, and he’s got some moxie and a gunslinger’s persona to go along with the package. There’s a lot of other programs in the Big Ten that would love to have a talent like him under center.
But it’s the gunslinger’s mentality that’s gotten this year’s Cornhuskers in trouble this year. Far too often he’s tried to squeeze it into a window that isn’t there, or thrown the ball up for grabs into double and triple coverage.
Having the desire and wants to make a play isn’t a bad thing, and even gambling here and there and allowing your player to go up and make something happen is worth the chance when it’s needed, but there’s a time, and there’s and a place.
Tommy Armstrong — at least this season — far too often hasn’t known the time or the place, and it came full circle against Iowa, throwing four interceptions in key spots to continue the storybook run the Hawkeyes have been on.
Whether Nebraska makes a bowl game or not at 5-7, you have to believe that this offseason will be spent working on footwork, timing and development for Armstrong. But you have to also believe that progressing through reads and making the right decisions will be front and center more than anything.
It has to be, or Nebraska can look forward to another season of close losses, blown opportunities and unfulfilled expectations.
Just like a gunslinger.
Phil Harrison is a frequent contributor to talking10.com. He is also a the founder of Big10news.com and featured contributor to collegefootballews.com and occasionally campusinsiders.com. You can follow him on twitter @PhilHarrisonCFB or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org If that doesn’t work, you can find him in the doghouse at home.