Nebraska Football: Four challenges facing Mike Riley’s first year with Cornhuskers

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Nov 1, 2014; Lincoln, NE, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. (4) scores a touchdown against Purdue Boilermakers in the first half at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Challenge Two: Can Tommy Armstrong Jr. be Consistently Accurate?

There are legions of doubters as to whether Tommy Armstrong Jr. can thrive as a drop back quarterback. The numbers certainly do not support it. Last season he had a 53 percent completion rate, and his 22 to 12 touchdown to interception ratio is going to have to improve further still with more opportunities. He’s going to throw a lot more on the run, and he’s going to have to be consistent while doing it.

These are all things we have not seen from Armstrong in abundance, and quarterback coach Danny Langsdorf is expecting a lot of evolution in his play style.

The interesting thing is most still are not quite sure what to expect out of this “pro style” offense, with regard to its variation. Riley and Langsdorf are going to want to play to Armstrong’s strengths, but mostly thus far that has been running the ball. And that changes. Will he still see his chances to rush? Certainly, but those will be far fewer in 2015.

The offense seems certain to use some option and zone-reads, not just because that is what we’re used to seeing from the Cornhuskers but because that best fits Armstrong we’ve seen. Despite coaches seeking to employ vast changes, sometimes a regression to what works becomes inevitable. Armstrong is a talented QB to be sure, but there’s so many questions about whether his style is suitable for the offense Nebraska wants to install.

If Armstrong is not a fit, the team still has another option in Johnny Stanton. If he ends up adapting to the pro-style better he could steal the job. It’s not likely, but do not count it out of play necessarily.

The only certainty at this point is that there is plenty to be determined, and Nebraska enters the season with a lot more question marks than in recent seasons with a proven and known formula.

The biggest concern has to be that Armstrong’s greatest strengths may be minimized.  But maybe Riley is far too good of a coach to allow that to be the case.

Next: What about the Offensive Line?