In 2018 the Nebraska Danger had five different players start at quarterback.
Some were hampered by injuries. Some were just ineffective.
This year it’s been one man and one man only.
Tommy Armstrong Jr. has been the quarterback for the Danger all season long. In fact, he’s thrown every pass for the Danger this year except for one and has 150 completions in 251 attempts for 1,799 yards and 27 touchdowns during the regular season.
The former Husker starting quarterback also led the team in rushing during the regular season with 137 carries for 720 yards and 26 touchdowns.
Despite that heavy workload, Armstrong has remained relatively healthy throughout the season and hasn’t missed any time due to injuries.
“(I’m) just taking care of my body, making sure that I take care of the bumps and bruises,” Armstrong said. “Every game I come out with bumps and bruises, maybe tweaks here and there.”
Armstrong and the Danger will be in action again at 8 p.m. CDT Saturday against unbeaten Arizona in an Intense Conference championship game in Phoenix.
Armstrong said it’s been important to him to stay on the field, and that’s not always easy. Nebraska offensive coordinator Jameel Sewell took his share of lumps and missed some time back when he quarterbacked the Danger to three straight IFL championship games from 2013 to 2015.
Armstrong said the keys to his healthy season are “being smart with the football, not taking the extra hits, throwing the ball away here and there, Trusting my running back has helped me a lot. It’s definitely harder turf to land on. I’ve just been trying to take care of my body and trust I can just play the whole season.
“I know last year the starting quarterback got hurt. At the same time I wanted to make sure I took care of my body. If I had bumps and bruises, talk to our trainer.”
Danger head coach Pig Brown is happy Armstrong has remained healthy, but he said that wasn’t really a focus for the team.
“We don’t focus on keeping just one player healthy,” Brown said. “The healthier our team is, the better chance we have to go out and get a victory. We got a great training staff. We take precautionary measures necessary to keep our guys safe. Hopefully we’re 100% healthy when we go play Arizona.”
The Danger had the running game rolling in a 45-40 win over Green Bay in a first-round playoff game Friday. Running back Davonte Sapp Lynch had 10 carries for 81 yards and two touchdowns. Armstrong had just 14 yards on nine carries but scored four TDs in the game.
Armstrong credited the offensive line for the team’s success on the ground.
“They do a great job getting prepared every single day, staring off with our center to both guards,” Armstrong said. “Being able to go out there and, as Coach Sewell says, being able to impose their will, make sure the defensive line isn’t getting any penetration up front, and when that happens it gives me great time to stand back there and throw the ball.
“When we run the ball, they’re working the linebackers, chipping guys, getting pancakes and things like that. That’s when it starts getting fun when you see that group of guys having fun, playing hard and physical all four quarters.”
Brown has seen growth from Armstrong as his first season of indoor football has progressed.
“I think he’s played extremely well,” Brown said. “He still has a lot of room for improvement, but for him being a rookie I think he’s handled the challenge quite well and he’s getting better on a daily basis. The sky is the limit for him. Hopefully he continues to work hard and we’ll see what happens.”
Armstrong said his first season in the IFL has been fun for him.
“I’ve enjoyed it, been learning a lot from Coach Sewell.” Armstrong said. “At the same time, it’s something that I cherish, being about to be close to home and being able to be around a great group of guys like this and having them support me and believing I can lead this team.”