Steven Sipple/Lincoln Journal-Star: Armstrong still lead dog, but young QB's show promise.
It's safe to say this is still Tommy Armstrong's show. Nothing we saw or heard suggested otherwise. The junior has adapted well to an entirely different scheme, his coaches say. But a pair of redshirt freshmen, Zack Darlington and AJ Bush, have shown enough this spring to keep Armstrong on his toes throughout the summer and into preseason camp.
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Bush has been the flavor of the spring in media circles. For good reason.
But Darlington was the flavor of the Red-White Spring Game, completing 7 of 11 passes for 70 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions. He had a nifty 19-yard run on a zone-read play that immediately preceded a 29-yard touchdown pass to Jamal Turner.
Langsdorf said evaluation of the QBs continues.
"We're not going to just evaluate it off today," he said. "We're going to take the whole spring and make sure we make a good decision."
Bottom line, "There's a good battle for that backup spot."
Paul Myerberg/USA Today: Mike Riley's new look Nebraska still a work in progress.
This is Mike Riley, the new face of Nebraska's football program — if somewhat reluctantly, given his former life of relative anonymity in the Pacific Northwest — and his impact during two months and 15 spring practices are seen in such subtle tweaks to the Cornhuskers' brand.
"There's been a lot happen in the last two months," Riley said. "It's frankly still kind of a strange feeling. You have a lot of mixed emotions. A lot of this is simply very exciting. Just kind of feeling yourself in a new role, in a new place."
He'll have less than five months to make more drastic alterations. If Saturday's spring game is any indication, the Cornhuskers' have two primary issues, each related to the other: Nebraska might not have a quarterback who fits the new staff's preferred style, and Nebraska might not have a quarterback, period.
But the Cornhuskers do have a starter — sort of. The starter since midway through his freshman season, junior Tommy Armstrong has done nothing to relinquish his spot during spring drills; thought another way, however, no backup has done enough to unseat Armstrong's from atop the depth chart.
Vahe Gregorian/Kansas City Star: Nebraska’s Mike Riley represents stark personality contrast, and upgrade, to Bo Pelini
As one Nebraska message-board poster put it on Dec. 4, this was like swapping David Bruce Banner and the Hulk — "don’t make me angry; you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry" — for the amiable Mr. Rogers.
Riley, after all, is a yoga practitioner known for his pristine language and an upbeat disposition that would make Dale Carnegie sound glum.
And you could understand this reputation within, oh, about 90 seconds of meeting Riley last week as Nebraska prepared for its spring game Saturday.
It’s all in the handshake and the look in the eye and his fetching of a latte for a visitor and the sincere interest in the other person’s story.
This seems a man as comfortable in his own skin as one can be.
"Two different ends of the spectrum," said Nebraska defensive tackle Maliek Collins, a junior from Center High. "Bo, you could see his aggression and how he wanted to get it done.
"Riley, he’s an even-keeled dude. You never see him really, like, frustrated or flustered or anything like that."
Pausing and smiling, he added, "At least so far."
Michael Rose-Ivey, a junior linebacker from Rockhurst, called it "like a different style of parenting."
Like Collins, though, he wonders when the styles might blur some.
"It can’t be humanly possible to be this happy all the time," he said, laughing. "We’re waiting on that one person to not run out on the field-goal unit (for Riley to snap)."
So the over-under on that is one intriguing question as Riley, 61, tries to revitalize one of the nation’s most storied programs.
Mitch Sherman/ESPN: Nebraska's Spring Game: What we learned.
Fear the defensive line. These guys were the real deal last year and the group looks equally good or better, despite the loss of Randy Gregory, as it enters the next phase of this offseason. Defensive tackles Maliek Collins and Vincent Valentine consistently penetrated the backup offensive line on Saturday. On the edge, Greg McMullen and Jack Gangwish form a solid duo, and converted tight end Freedom Akinmoladun offers impressive athleticism in pass-rush situations. Same with fellow freshman Sedrick King. The top unit harassed Bush, twice converging on him for sacks – one of which was negated by a Gangwish penalty.
Rich Kaipust/Omaha World-Herald: Terrell Newby shows versatility, states his case to be Huskers' top I-back.
Life has changed plenty the past few months. Newby has a new head coach, offensive coordinator and position coach. And with Ameer Abdullah no longer around, there will be all kinds of available work for whoever earns it.
Like Imani Cross, Adam Taylor and Mikale Wilbon, Newby wants as much of it as he can get.
"Everybody wants to make the most of their opportunity," Newby said. "I think that’s just what I’m trying to do. I’m just trying to be able to be the best I can be for the team."
Newby finished with 53 yards on seven carries in the Husker spring game, with his day cut short by an ankle that tightened up.
It was another chance for Newby to state his case to head coach Mike Riley and his staff as they try to figure out who best fits what they want to do — and whether it will be one back or some sort of committee approach.
Tom Shatel/Omaha WH: Safety aside, Husker QBs are on the right wavelength
No cats. No gimmicks. No entertaining drills. No problem. Riley said he wanted the format to resemble a game so his staff could do more evaluation.
Heck, Riley didn’t even lead the team out for the Tunnel Walk. He followed it out. I figured maybe he wanted to watch it.
Dirk Chatelain/Omaha WH: Former Nebraska players seeing 'great vibe' with Mike Riley
The blueprint sounds easy on a 70-degree day in April. Can Nebraska stay unified during the Riley era? Can former players stay satisfied with not only their winning percentage, but their access to the program? For now, there’s hope.
Cole Pensick, an offensive lineman during the Pelini era, returned to Memorial Stadium with mixed emotions. He still loves Pelini. He’d do anything for him, he said. But change isn’t always bad.
"I grew up in Nebraska. I played for Nebraska. My blood runs for Nebraska."
Stanton just got in the game…don't know where he will be playing in the future but wish him the best of luck. Timing was bad here. #Huskers— Nick Gregath (@NickESPN1480) April 12, 2015
Mark Banker respect for Charlie McBride is genuine. Spent time together this week, which Banker called "great honor and privilege" #Huskers— Rich Kaipust (@RKaipustOWH) April 12, 2015
Michael Rose-Ivey called Gatorade bath an "initiation" for Mike Riley after first spring with #Huskers, and to "welcome him to the club."— Rich Kaipust (@RKaipustOWH) April 12, 2015