Mike Riley

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Mike Riley names Tanner Lee as Nebraska’s starting QB

Leave a comment

The spring has come and gone in Lincoln, Nebraska, and the Cornhuskers have a new starting quarterback in line for the fall. Nebraska head coach Mike Riley announced, via Twitter, Tanner Lee will be the new starting quarterback moving forward.

Lee transferred to Nebraska from Tulane in January of last year. After choosing Nebraska over LSU, Lee had to sit out the 2016 season due to NCAA transfer rules, but he took flight this spring and generated some sparks in the Nebraska offense. Lee was given an extra year of eligibility from the NCAA last August, meaning he will be eligible to play for Nebraska in 2017 and 2018.

Lee started 10 games for Tulane in 2014 and nine games in 2015. Between his two seasons playing for Tulane, Lee racked up 23 touchdowns but was picked off 21 times. At Nebraska, he will have a stronger supporting cast to count on, which should help cut down on the turnovers and maybe improve in the scoring department.

Mike Riley: Tommy Armstrong in concussion protocol, is day-to-day

Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Nebraska had quite a scare on Saturday night in Columbus, and it had nothing to do with the scoreboard as the Buckeyes were decimating the Cornhuskers in Ohio Stadium. Quarterback Tommy Armstrong was taken by ambulance off the field and to a nearby hospital after being knocked out after hitting the ground hard. It was a welcome sight to see Armstrong return to the sidelines in street clothes, but the Huskers quarterback is not quite cleared to play just yet.

On Monday, Nebraska head coach Mike Riley said Armstrong is going through concussion protocol. That makes his status for this week’s game against Minnesota “day-to-day.”

A decision on whether or not Armstrong will be able to play this weekend will be made later this week as doctors continue to monitor Armstrong and check for any signs of head trauma that would prevent him from playing. In the meantime, Riley will prepare for the Gophers as though Ryker Fyfe will be the starting quarterback for Nebraska. Fyfe stepped in for the injured Armstrong on Saturday night.

Holder Zack Darlington will prepare for backup duty behind Fyfe in case of an emergency, but the hope is obviously that Armstrong will be able to return to the field quickly.

Nebraska is closing out games with authority this season

Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images
Leave a comment

A year ago, it seemed Nebraska was unable to find a way to close out a game in the fourth quarter. It was one of the reasons Nebraska struggled in the first year under Mike Riley, but the Cornhuskers are having little problem late in games this season.

Through the first five games of the 2015 season, Nebraska was out-scored by opponents in the fourth quarter by a cumulative score of 45-55. It is worth mentioning that included a 23-3 fourth quarter advantage for Nebraska on the road against Miami, a game that was lost in overtime. After five games, Nebraska stood at an underwhelming 2-3 with an overtime loss at Miami, a loss on a Hail Mary by BYU and a fourth quarter stunner at Illinois. The only wins came against South Alabama and Southern Mississippi (who scored 21 points on the Cornhuskers in the fourth quarter). Three more opponents, including UCLA in a bowl game, would go on to out-score Nebraska in the fourth quarter in 2015. So far, through five games of the 2016 season, Nebraska seems to have improved in the final quarter, which is a key reason why the Cornhuskers are off to a nice 5-0 start.

Nebraska has outscored its opponents in the fourth quarter by a dominating 78-6 margin. It started with Nebraska pulling away from Fresno State by turning a 21-10 lead into a 43-10 victory in Week 1. In Week 2, Nebraska pulled away from Wyoming with a 28-0 outburst to go from a 24-17 lead to a 52-17 victory. Oregon has been the only team to score on Nebraska in the fourth quarter, but the Huskers scored one more point in the final quarter of a 35-32 victory. Yesterday, against Illinois, Nebraska pulled away once again by turning a 16-10 deficit into a 31-16 victory.

The stiffest challenges are still likely to come later for Nebraska, with Indiana and Purdue up next before getting to Wisconsin and Ohio State in the coming month, but this is a noticeable difference in Nebraska this season, and could be what helps power them to a run in the Big Ten West.

Helmet sticker to Reddit for the stat.

Mike Riley picks up long-awaited win vs. No. 22 Oregon as Nebraska hangs on

Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images
4 Comments

Nebraska head coach Mike Riley had a seven-game losing streak against Oregon dating back to his years as head coach of Oregon State. So when Nebraska brought down No. 22 Oregon quarterback Dakota Prukop on fourth down and saw the final seconds tick away off the clock, there was a reason to celebrate with a Gatorade shower for Riley. Nebraska (3-0) held on for a 35-32 victory over the Pac-12’s Ducks and enter Big Ten play with momentum that eluded them a year ago.

Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong ran 34 yards for a touchdown with 2:29 to play, giving the Cornhuskers a 35-32 lead. Oregon once led the game, 20-7, and was unable to hold Nebraska down in the second half.

This one will not be fun to review for new Oregon defensive coordinator Brady Hoke, who made his return to a Big Ten stadium for the first time since being fired by Michigan two years ago. Nebraska had 228 rushing yards, with Armstrong leading the way with 96 rushing yards and a touchdown and Devine Ozigbo nearly equaling him with 94 yards and a touchdown. Terrell Newby chipped in with 42 rushing yards as well. Armstrong’s passing effort helped lead the way too with 200 yards and three touchdowns without an interception.

Oregon’s offense took an early hit in the first half with running back Royce Freeman going down with a leg injury. He did not return, leading the Ducks to look to Prukop, Taj Griffin and Kani Benoit to take care of the ground attack. It was effective with 327 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Oregon’s unique decisions to go for two-point conversions came back to haunt them, perhaps. Oregon attempted five two-point conversions and converted on just the first one in the game. That left four potential points off the scoreboard in a three-point game. Take the points, Oregon. Take. The. Points.

Nebraska will hit the road next week for their first Big Ten game of the season. The Cornhuskers travel to Northwestern, a team that has given Nebraska the fits in recent years. Oregon will return home for its Pac-12 opener against Colorado. Colorado gave Michigan a run for a while in Ann Arbor before the Wolverines put them away in the second half of a 45-28 victory.

Mike Riley bringing rape victim at Oregon State to speak to Huskers

AP Photo/Michael Conroy
10 Comments

Nebraska head coach Mike Riley is taking an interesting approach to addressing the impact of sexual abuse to his football players in Lincoln. Riley will bring in a former victim of a gang rape incident at Oregon State, which occurred under Riley’s time at the Pac-12 program. Brenda Tracy

Brenda Tracy was allegedly raped in October 1999 during her freshman year at Oregon State by four men, two of which were football players at Oregon State. The charges were later dropped and the two Oregon State players served one-game suspensions by Riley.

Doing the right thing is the key,” Riley said on Thursday, according to Sports Illustrated. “What I’ve learned is that some things that are not negotiable about the opportunity to be on a team. One of those is certain kinds of assault, and one of them is anything to do with guns.”

Considering no charges were ever pursued and the players each served a simple one-game suspension, it stands to reason Tracy would have some animosity toward Riley, who she also blames to an extent. Riley previously invited her to speak to his team while at Oregon State and is now coming through on his promise to allow Tracy to share her story with his new football program at Nebraska.

I despised that man,” Tracy told The Oregonian, speaking of Riley. “I hated him with every cell in my body. This is a coach who victimized me, and now I’m going to stand in front of his football team and tell them how I felt.”

It should be a very powerful message, and it sounds like one that every college football program should consider hearing if possible. In the wake of recent findings at Baylor and a disturbingly growing list of sexual assault cases involving college football players, why not hear how a victim’s life can be impacted by the poor decisions of young men?

“I think kids have to always understand it’s about choices,” Riley said. “The other basic thing to understand is how you treat people. It’s one more piece. I really appreciate Brenda reaching out, stepping out to do this. I think it will be a real-life thing. I think that’s what players need to know about. There’s people’s lives involved here and how it affects them.”

Last November saw a trio of Nebraska players (Tommy Armstrong, Trey Foster and Jordan Westerkamp) connected to an alleged rape incident, but no charges were filed following an investigation by officials due to a lack of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.