NU Football Practice, 12.15.15

Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong tosses a ball around before practice Tuesday at Hawks Championship Center.

It was about a week after the Iowa game, the disappointment from defeat still fresh enough.

Husker quarterback Tommy Armstrong, coming off a performance that included four interceptions, wanted to talk with his peers on offense.

According to junior wide receiver Brandon Reilly, the message from the quarterback was this: It's on me. I got to watch more film, make better decisions.

"He took it like a man," Reilly said. "He didn’t put it off on anyone else. He took all the blame himself. It was good to see him show his leadership."

As for the message players returned to Armstrong?

“It’s not all on you," Reilly said. "We all had errors here and there. We’re going to back you. We’re not going to dog on you to other people. We’re going to have your back and let’s go finish this year on a good note."

Added true freshman wide receiver Stanley Morgan: "By us being a team and a family, we just kept his head up. He really fought through it. He's out there playing like it never happened."

In that attempt to try to hit a better note, the Huskers finished their fourth of 12 bowl practices Tuesday, the buildup to a Dec. 26 meeting with UCLA in the Foster Farms Bowl in Santa Clara, California.

By all accounts provided after Tuesday's practice, the Huskers seem eager enough for another game in this 2015 season.

There were grins on the faces of multiple players when asked about a "spirited" practice on Saturday that may have included a skirmish or two.

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"Recently we've had to slow guys down a little bit, say, 'Hey, hang on, we want everybody to get to the game healthy,'" said senior defensive end Jack Gangwish. "That's a good problem to have this time of year. If you got to tell guys to slow down, that means morale here is good."

Asked specifically about some after-the-whistle stuff going down Saturday, Gangwish replied: "That's just guys being dudes."

Yeah, Reilly confirmed, the practice “got a little intense” toward the end.

"Some people thought there was a cheap shot, some didn’t," he said. “It just escalated pretty quickly. It’s football. Everyone’s competing out here."

Gangwish, one of the team's captains, said the bowl practice routine has been fairly consistent with how the Huskers handled things in the past under the previous staff.

There are subtle differences, of course. Mike Riley and coaches have actually been reserving some extra time at the end of practices to work specifically with younger players and redshirts.

"We're getting a good look at how this staff views bowl prep and their theory on how to do things," Gangwish said. "It's new for us and I think guys are adapting well, and we're getting what we need done."

The Huskers will continue to work out in Lincoln during this finals week before departing for California next Monday, arriving five days in advance of the bowl game.

Junior linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey said there's an "upbeat" vibe for a 5-7 team that is not only trying to show it is better than that record, but also use a bowl win as a trampoline into 2016 and the second year of the Riley era at Nebraska.

"Everybody out here loves playing football. They love the process of getting ready," Rose-Ivey said. "I'm not worried about anybody not wanting to play or whatnot. We have a tremendous opportunity to go put something on tape, beat a quality team and jump-start us into the offseason."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7439 or bchristopherson@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.


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