Nebraska staying with Armstrong as its starting QB

Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. received a vote of

confidence Monday from coach Bo Pelini, who said the redshirt

freshman would start at Penn State this week after his

three-turnover performance against Michigan State.

”We still believe in Tommy and still think he’s going to be a

really good football player for us,” Pelini said. ”He’s young.

He’s a freshman. He’s not going to be perfect. He was disappointed

yesterday, but that experience will make him better down the

line.”

The 41-28 loss to the Spartans was the first in Armstrong’s six

starts since he replaced the injured Taylor Martinez. Armstrong’s

wins, however, have come against Championship Subdivision South

Dakota State and four Big Ten teams with a combined conference

record of 3-21.

Since he went 7 for 9 in the first half against Illinois on Oct.

5, Armstrong is just 42 of 91 (46 percent) with five touchdowns

against seven interceptions and two fumbles.

Armstrong, with those seven picks, is tied with Illinois’ Nathan

Scheelhaase for most in Big Ten play. But Scheelhaase has 233 pass

attempts in conference games compared with Armstrong’s 100.

Armstrong had fumbles that gave Michigan State the ball at the

Nebraska 22 and 3 and an interception on the Cornhuskers’ side of

the 50. The Spartans converted two of the three turnovers into

touchdowns.

”Mistakes killed us, and most of that was on me,” Armstrong

said. ”I’ve got to fix that. Most people say that it’s part of

being a freshman. At the same time, I just think I’ve got to hold

onto the football. Being a player is being a player. It’s not about

what grade you’re in.”

Pelini and offensive coordinator Tim Beck are handling Armstrong

carefully. Pelini said Armstrong has a tendency to be extremely

hard on himself. He wants Armstrong to learn from the mistakes but

not dwell on them.

Linebacker Michael Rose, one of Armstrong’s best friends on the

team, said the quarterback was extremely upset in the locker room

after the game.

”People outside of our team are going to tear him down and tell

him he’s this and he’s that and he cost us this,” Rose said.

”That’s why we have to remain close and stay a tight-knit

bunch.”

Armstrong said it helps to know he has the support of teammates.

That was conveyed to him in a text message he received from running

back Imani Cross after the game.

According to Armstrong, the text read, ”No matter if you’re a

quarterback that throws 100 touchdowns and zero interceptions, or

you don’t throw any touchdowns and 100 interceptions, I’m still

going to trust you and I’m still going to have your back.”

Pelini said fifth-year senior Ron Kellogg III could rotate in

for a few series against Penn State, as he has in other games

Armstrong has started. Kellogg didn’t play against Michigan State

until the last few minutes, when the game was decided.

Pelini said Armstrong must not allow his poor performance

against Michigan State to carry over when the Huskers return to

practice this week or when they enter Beaver Stadium on

Saturday.

”I think you’ll see him respond the right way,” Pelini

said.