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Tommy Armstrong Jr. tabbed Neb starter vs Illinois

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Tommy Armstrong Jr. will make his second straight start in place of injured quarterback Taylor Martinez when Nebraska hosts Illinois in its Big Ten opener Saturday.

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Coach Bo Pelini said after Thursday's practice that Martinez hasn't progressed enough in his recovery from an injury to his left big toe.

Armstrong, a redshirt freshman, and fifth-year senior Ron Kellogg III split playing time evenly in the Cornhuskers' 59-20 win over South Dakota State on Sept. 21. The Huskers (3-1) didn't have a game last week.

Martinez continues to battle turf toe, an injury marked by painful bruising at the base of the toe. Turf toe can become chronic if not allowed to fully heal. The fourth-year starter hasn't played or practiced since the Sept. 14 game against UCLA.

``I think he's getting pretty close, but until he's 100 percent and feels comfortable where he can put his foot in the ground and do what he needs to do, then we won't see him,'' Pelini said. ``When that time is, I don't know.''

Armstrong completed 12 of 15 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown and led the Huskers to TDs on his first three series against South Dakota State. Also a threat in the triple-option, he ran five times for 38 yards against the Jackrabbits.

Kellogg was 8 of 9 for 136 yards and a TD and led Nebraska to scores on three of four first-half drives against SDSU.

Pelini said he didn't know whether Armstrong and Kellogg would rotate every two series as they did most of the last game, but he expected Kellogg to play some.

``No matter who's the quarterback,'' Pelini said, ``the key is playing good around them, and our guys understand that and are ready to do that.''

Armstrong said earlier in the week that he wouldn't be surprised to start again. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Armstrong was ranked among the top dual-threat quarterbacks when he was coming out of Cibolo (Texas) Steele High in 2012. He redshirted last season and has overcome some minor knee problems while transitioning into Beck's multiple system.

``We started clicking ever since I was in high school and I committed here,'' Armstrong said of his relationship with Beck. ``Since I've been here, he's always told me he sees potential in me ... and he's going to be hard on me all the time just because I'm young and he wants me to be prepared.''

Copyright 2018 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
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