Count Monte Christo Still Supports Fyfe, Huskers

Nebraska Falls at Purdue

Christo Helped Beat Mizzou

Randy York N-Sider

Official Blog of the Huskers

If there’s one player in America who can identify with the wide range of thoughts that Nebraska junior quarterback Ryker Fyfe is processing in his mind right now, it’s the Count Monte Christo, the only other Husker quarterback who was on the losing end of 19 Nebraska football games played on Halloween.

A walk-on senior quarterback from Kearney, Neb., Christo started for the No. 7-ranked Huskers in a 20-16 loss to unranked Texas in 1998. A walk-on junior quarterback from Grand Island, Neb., Fyfe was at the control panel for Nebraska’s 55-45 loss to Purdue Saturday in West Lafayette, Ind. Christo is a Nebraska football season ticketholder, and he could almost feel Ryker’s heart crushing with the periodic updates he received while coaching his son’s Pop Warner football game in the Hawks Indoor Facility – Nebraska’s indoor football home – on Saturday. It was a big deal for Christo to get to coach his team inside the facility that he was lucky enough to practice on daily two decades ago.

He remembers those days as “a really cool time” and knows how hard Fyfe worked to overcome hurdles he cleared to get Saturday’s opportunity to replace Tommy Armstrong Jr.  A foot injury ended what would have been Armstrong's 23rd consecutive start as Nebraska’s quarterback.

Competing at Nebraska, Christo Underwent Five Surgeries

Christo values the trust a head coach can place in a walk-on’s heart. “I've been a big Ryker Fyfe fan since he came to Nebraska,” Christo said. “He's from my neck of the woods, and I've always had an affinity for the Nebraska kid who gets the opportunity to walk on and play quarterback, whether it’s Ryker Fyfe (pictured above), Tyson Brokemeir or Ron Kellogg. I understand what those guys have done and all the work that they put in. To get an opportunity to go out and start a game is just a really cool experience.”

For Fyfe, it was the best of the world and the worst of the world in simultaneous time. Fyfe’s performance “was like our team’s…probably at best a mixed bag,” Nebraska Coach Mike Riley said in his postgame analysis. “He made some throws and some plays. We went through that rough spot in the middle there that really set us back. But for the most part, I was really proud of Ryker, and I think at the end, it will make us stronger down the road with him making plays.”

As unfortunate as Christo’s experience was in the loss to Texas, it was an opportunity to go out and start a game. The biggest obstacle or hardest thing to overcome for any first-time starter is getting into a rhythm. “All the practices and scrimmages in the world cannot really prepare you for that true game speed,” Christo said. “Ryker is a great athlete, and he's been around a long time. Getting that experience under his belt is a big deal.”

Ryker Fyfe’s Historic 407-Yard, 4-Touchdown Performance 

Leading up to Saturday’s game, Riley praised Fyfe for the way he’s prepared for his chance since the opening of fall camp and added that he was “excited” for the now scholarship quarterback’s opportunity. The good news is Fyfe completed 29 of 48 passes for 407 yards and four touchdowns – a 20-yard pass to Stanley Morgan Jr., a 17-yard touchdown to Lane Hovey (pictured immediately below) an eight-yard scoring pass to Brandon Reilly (final picture below in column) and a 35-yard strike to Jordan Westerkamp (No. 1 pictured above). The bad news is Fyfe’s four interceptions created the “mixed bag” Riley mentioned. Westerkamp's nine catches for 123 yards and a touchdown led the charge. Reilly finished with 88 receiving yards on five catches, including a 52-yard reception.

A Nebraska co-captain and Armstrong Jr. roommate, Westerkamp liked the way Fyfe kept fighting. “I thought Ryker played a hell of a game,” Westerkamp told the Huskers Sports Network. “When you throw for more than 400 yards, that’s a lot. He kept his poise. He did a great job. It seemed like it wasn’t his first game out there with the way he acted. Everybody stayed positive. You have to continue to fight. Ryker was a great example. In situations like this, you can never give up…never! You have to always play like the score’s zero-zero.”

The result of that mindset placed Fyfe in an elite category among Nebraska’s all-time best single-game passing performances. Joe Ganz ranks first and second with 510 and 484-yard games. Sam Keller ranks third with 438 and Zac Taylor fourth with 431. Ganz was also fifth, but not anymore. Fyfe’s 407 yards supplanted Ganz’s 405-yard fifth-place effort. Riley recognized a walk-on’s long awaited opportunity to make a difference for his team. “I think everybody was seeing glimpses of what he’s very good at and capable of doing,” Riley said. “I thought he did a lot of good things, but turnovers were the tale of the score and the game.”

Christo Kept Coming Back to Prove that He Belonged

Christo remembers what motivated him to overcome his five surgeries and bounce back with the great support of team trainers and doctors. “It would have been very easy for me to just hang it up at multiple points along the way,” he told me. “I guess the main reason that I kept coming back was to prove to myself that I really did belong out there. I saw a lot of other guys who persevered and overcame a lot during my time at Nebraska. It was something that I just had to see through to the end. I'm glad I was able to stick it out and get the opportunity to really contribute and play my senior year.”

Christo points to the “crazy season in terms of how close the games have been and how things have really gone down at the end of games this year for Nebraska,” he said. “I like what I see from Coach Riley in terms of how he’s handling the adversity, his demeanor, his willingness to try and figure out where their deficiencies are and how they’re going about fixing them.”

This Omaha-Based Doctor is Behind Mike Riley 100 Percent

Saturday might have been the biggest step backward team-wise, but “I think they have a good plan for recruiting, and they need to finish out the year and build this program into what Coach Riley envisions,” Christo said. “It will take some time to get the roster filled out like he wants, and I'm behind him 100 percent.”

That positive charge comes from an Omaha doctor who works for Anesthesia West, P.C., a private practice group of Anesthesiologists that covers the Methodist Health System Hospitals, and Midwest Surgical Hospital. After graduating at UNL and playing a year of indoor football, Christo enrolled at UNMC for medical school. After completing med school and finishing his residency in Anesthesia at UNMC, Christo has been practicing in Omaha for eight years. Christo and his wife, Jill, have four children who keep them busy. Drew and Sydney are 12-year-old twins in 7th grade. Courtney is a 10-year-old 4th grader and Ian a 6-year-old 1st grader.

Christo knows this a tough season, but remains onboard. Now 3-6, the Huskers will finish the season hosting unbeaten Michigan State on Saturday night, then visit Rutgers before returning home to host unbeaten Iowa in the annual Hero’s Game the Friday after Thanksgiving.

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