Published Friday, September 6, 2013 at 12:49 pm / Updated at 2:29 pm
Big Red Breakfast
NU's Tim Beck says deciding when to sub at QB is 'complicated'

Tim Beck left a little wiggle room again Friday when discussing which Nebraska backup quarterback might replace Taylor Martinez when the time is right.

It didn't happen last Saturday night when Martinez took all 85 snaps and the Husker offensive coordinator never got a feel for when to make a switch. Then, a late-shrinking lead wiped out any possible mop-up duty for a backup.

So when the time is right, will it be fifth-year senior Ron Kellogg or will it be redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong?

Beck had no definitive answer and told a Big Red Breakfast crowd that a lot of variables could go into that decision.

“It just depends,” he said. “Where you're playing, who we're playing, what's the score, where's the ball, what's the situation, where do we have to get him, what's the game plan calling for … all those things.”

For what it's worth, Kellogg warmed up briefly during the 37-34 win over Wyoming when it appeared that Martinez had gotten dinged.

The senior shook off whatever might have been bothering him to complete 17 of 22 passes for 155 yards, with three touchdowns, and ran 16 times for 80 yards.

The difference between Kellogg and Armstrong might be what they've done in recent weeks.

Beck said Kellogg had a “great fall camp” and can give the Huskers a veteran who knows the offense and can be a calming influence.

That can be imperative, Beck said, because the loss of a starting quarterback often can lead to teams going into “panic mode.”

“He has a presence about him when he goes in there, where it's like: 'I got it. Calm down. We'll be OK,' ” Beck said.

Beck said NU still has high expectations for Armstrong and believes he'll be a great player, but the learning process continues. Some of it got slowed down during preseason practice by minor knee surgery.

“It was a harder recovery than he thought and we thought,” Beck said. “He struggled some in camp with that, and then coming back the frustration grew. He wanted to be at this level, and he was at this level because of his setback, which also hurt him mentally.”

Beck said Armstrong has bounced back more recently and will be ready when his number is called.

Other than at quarterback, Nebraska was fairly liberal with its substitutions on a hot night against Wyoming.

Temperatures are again forecast to be in the 90s this Saturday as NU prepares for a 5 p.m. kickoff with Southern Mississippi at Memorial Stadium.

In addition to those conditions, however, there's a big-picture view to it for Beck, who spoke before a crowd of about 175 at the Ramada Plaza Omaha Hotel and Convention Center.

“You've got to keep them all fresh,” Beck said. “This is a marathon, not a sprint. Our goal wasn't to beat Wyoming, it's to win 'em all.”

Beck said he trusts NU assistants such as Ron Brown (backs) and Rich Fisher (receivers) with rotations and substitutions. They discuss who they like and who they're playing.

Among the Nebraska I-backs, Ameer Abdullah had 19 carries, Imani Cross 13 and Terrell Newby 15 in the 37-34 win over Wyoming.

NU also rotated three backup linemen, played more than a half-dozen receivers and used three tight ends.

Some other Beck breakfast bits:

Ľ Beck said even a veteran Husker offense had some nerves working Saturday night, giving an example of offensive linemen not being patient with where they were supposed to go with some blocks: “You're watching upstairs and you're like, 'We've got to slow them down, man. They're playing so fast and so fired up.' ”

Ľ Because of the staff changes at Southern Miss, NU has tried to find film from Eagle coaches' previous stops to pick up anything that might help: “It's like preparing for a test and you don't even take that class.”

Ľ Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith left an impression on the Huskers after throwing for 383 yards and four touchdowns against NU: “I was thinking about this yesterday … who in the Big Ten is as good as that kid?”

Ľ The offense might not have finished its job, but Beck pointed to two late blocks by receiver Quincy Enunwa as proof that not everybody let up: “Whew, those were impressive.”

Ľ Beck said his players love running the Huskers' fast-paced offense, but it's perfected through the week by Beck creating chaos in drills with loud music, changing personnel and yelling, referencing it as “like a biker bar.”

“They hate it in practice,” he said.

* * *

Video: Pelini talks after Thursday's practice:

Contact the writer: Rich Kaipust

rich.kaipust@owh.com    |   402-444-1042    |  

Rich Kaipust is a staff writer for The Omaha World-Herald and covers Nebraska football and some general assignment tasks, including the College World Series and U.S. Olympic Swim Trials.

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