Mike Riley, as always, began his weekly news conference by looking back at the last Nebraska football game.
Riley: We’ve got improvement to do. We’ve got things to work on.— Samuel McKewon (@swmckewonOWH) November 14, 2016
Riley: “tommy had a terrific game.”— Samuel McKewon (@swmckewonOWH) November 14, 2016
Mike Riley at weekly news conferences. Says Josh Banderas and Kevin Maurice are playing at an "All-star level." #Huskers— Brian Rosenthal (@GBRosenthal) November 14, 2016
On offense, Riley names Armstrong, Newby, Cotton, Farmer and Cole Conrad as having played really well.— Brian Christopherson (@HuskerExtraBC) November 14, 2016
No real news on quarterback Tommy Armstrong, who is officially questionable.
Riley said Armstrong has hamstring injury, will approach as day by day, like last week. Fyfe again taking snaps with No. 1 this week.— Brian Rosenthal (@GBRosenthal) November 14, 2016
Another Monday, another health concern for TA. "He's limping heavily" according to Coach Riley.— Nick Handley (@NickESPN590) November 14, 2016
According to Riley, Armstrong's ankle is okay, but the hamstring is the main injury. #Huskers— HuskerOnline.com (@HuskerOnline) November 14, 2016
For some reason, I still expect Armstrong to play on Saturday...or at least try to. In other injury news:
Riley also said #Huskers are hopeful with receiver Brandon Reilly and what he can do this week— Rich Kaipust (@RKaipustOWH) November 14, 2016
I’m not surprised that Foster played the whole game; offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh doesn’t believe in substituting, so unless Foster reinjured himself, he wasn’t coming out of the game.
Foltz family will be part of the senior celebration on Saturday. #Huskers— Josh Harvey (@JoshHarveyScout) November 14, 2016
That is going to be one emotional moment on Saturday morning.
Then, talk finally turned to the elephant in the room that’s been waiting all year long.
Riley calls special teams “50/50” bag this season. #huskers— Samuel McKewon (@swmckewonOWH) November 14, 2016
Riley being real about special teams. "Less than 50/50. Caleb is erratic" Probably could add more there.— Nick Handley (@NickESPN590) November 14, 2016
In fairness, Caleb Lightbourn really shouldn’t even be playing this season; that’s nobody’s fault, and frankly, I think he’s done well trying to replace a legend.
Mike Riley determines who NU will leave out, the defense or put in punt return unit. But need to remove one for the returner. Plus #15 issue— Mike'l Severe (@MikelSevere) November 14, 2016
Riley says the 12-men on the field penalty was failure by defensive staff b/c they were in "punt safe." Bruce Read was not involved.— John Bishop (@JohnBishop71) November 14, 2016
And then the defense of beleaguered special teams coordinator Bruce Read.
Riley on Nebraska special teams coach Bruce Read: "Bruce is a meticulous, detailed worker." #Huskers— Kevin Sjuts (@kevinsjuts) November 14, 2016
Riley said he wants to evaluate special teams in offseason to make sure it’s more of a “weapon.”— Samuel McKewon (@swmckewonOWH) November 14, 2016
Read between the lines, and you can see that changes are coming, but not until after the bowl game.
Riley comments indicate he’s wanted more out of KR and PR this season. Feels like they have good returners in Bryant/Pierson-El.— Samuel McKewon (@swmckewonOWH) November 14, 2016
Pierson-El, yes. Not so sure on Bryant, though. Then there was this take from Brian Rosenthal, who’s now on the athletic department staff:
@JoshHarveyScout all this because a freshman shanked a punt and the defense got confused with a punt-safe call.— Brian Rosenthal (@GBRosenthal) November 14, 2016
If it were only. The shanked punt and confused defense were simply the final straw. Nebraska’s three punts blocked this season is the worst in the nation, tied with UNLV and Oklahoma State. And it’s not like this is the first time Nebraska didn’t have the right number of defenders out on special teams.
More Unspecial Teams: Huskers only had nine men to defend on Wyoming's final PAT attempt: pic.twitter.com/c4G978ZPcH— Husker Mike (@Husker_Mike) September 11, 2016
Nebraska's punt return unit a total mess there. Riley has to burn a TO. NU had about 6 guys on the field and Rose-Ivey/DPE (same no.) on fld— Samuel McKewon (@swmckewonOWH) September 25, 2016
If anything, it’s a surprise that it’s taken until the tenth for someone to bring the topic up.