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The Morning After: 2016 Nebraska Red/White Spring Game

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What were folks saying this morning after the final scrimmage of the Spring Practice session?

David McGee

Steven Sipple, Lincoln Journal-Star: With Tommy Armstrong on run, defenses could be in Code Red

It's been said Armstrong reported to spring camp in perhaps the best condition of his college career, which is saying a mouthful, because he's always in good condition. At any rate, perhaps that explains his apparent improvement as a runner.

I'm not even going to suggest that Nebraska use him more as a runner because it's become so obvious.

Nobody is saying Mike Riley and Danny Langsdorf should blow up their pro-style system. But how about committing to a dozen quarterback run plays a week, or somewhere in that neighborhood? Just let the kid do what comes naturally. It can be accomplished within the context of the offense.

As Riley, the second-year Nebraska head coach, told me before spring ball, "Coaching is really the utilization of talent."

Tom Shatel, Omaha World-Herald: QB run game's potential with Tommy Armstrong too good for Huskers to ignore

Do you trust Mike Riley to run the ball and ride the quarterback run game this fall?

Once upon a time, this is a question we never dared to ask.

But this is 2016. On a day when one of NU’s top defensive players left the game of football, and on a day when Husker quarterbacks sometimes couldn’t complete the most basic throws, it became clear that next season rides on how Riley and Co. manage this team.

It starts with Tommy Armstrong. The senior enters the fall as the man at quarterback. A quarterback controversy in the fall is not likely. Any rumors or theories contrary to that were dispelled on Saturday. The other quarterbacks do not look up for a serious run at the incumbent.

And this is an Armstrong who did not dazzle with his arm. The hope that he was going to make big strides in the passing game this spring did not translate to the field Saturday. Armstrong wasn’t bad. He wasn’t sharp, either.

But when Armstrong ran the ball, especially on draws, he looked untouchable. Armstrong ran it six times for 120 yards, including one for 44 yards and another for 37 yards and a touchdown.

If you were sitting in the stands saying, "Now that’s what they should be doing," know that it has crossed the head coach’s mind, too.

Brandon Vogel, Hail Varsity: Thoughts from the Spring Game

Perhaps the most difficult thing to do with spring games is get a broad sense for a team based on a practice. Even if it were easy, it wouldn’t be wise.

That said, I come out of this spring game — and maybe there’s just some confirmation bias at work here — thinking this 2016 team will be a little bit better than last year’s team, which is what I came into the day thinking. Not talking just better record here — which the Huskers could probably achieve with a little bit better luck — but actually better.

I think the quarterback play will be better. Run game, too. Both lines are young but enticingly athletic. The defense as a whole remains a major question mark, but Nebraska might have an offense that’s good enough that a merely average defense might be enough.

Did the spring game confirm all of those notions? No, but it didn’t scare me off them either.

Dirk Chatelain, Omaha W-H: Freshman QB O'Brien's first act is forgettable, but Huskers still see star

You may have shredded high school defenses. You may have been Mike Riley’s prestigious first quarterback recruit. You may have come to Lincoln with more hype than Kyle Kasun could ever dream of. But right here, right now, you’re a fourth-stringer.

O’Brien, who wasn’t available for an interview, plays the most cutthroat position in sports. Even if he’s good, there’s a chance he’ll never start a game at Nebraska.

When Langsdorf finished talking to O’Brien afterward, he walked over and greeted another four-star SoCal quarterback, Tristan Gebbia, who committed to NU’s Class of 2017. And then there’s Tanner Lee, the transfer from Tulane who joins the Huskers this summer.

Quarterback competition is paramount for a rebuilding program. But man, it must be tough to be an 18-year-old who enrolled at Nebraska early as his friends are coasting to graduation back in California.

"The guy should be in high school," Langsdorf said. "Here he is going through a whole spring ... so there’s some growing pains that are coming with that, but it’s good for him."

There’s an adjustment period, Langsdorf said. Doesn’t matter how good you are. The players are bigger and faster. The pressure is more intense.

"You’re here and 70-some thousand are watching you for the first time," Langsdorf said. "He had a bunch of people cheering for him when he came in and I think there are high expectations for him. High hopes."