What will Taylor Martinez be remembered for during his time with the Huskers in ten years? 20? He was really fast, broke a ton of yardage records, threw a pretty armpunt and yikes, those mechanics.
Regardless of his flaws, Bo Pelini hitched his wagon to Martinez. He became a fan favorite in near record time.
Unfortunately, even when Pelini’s chosen quarterback struggled, there was no hook. Maybe he knew his backups couldn’t cut it, but as time went on, that became a recruiting issue and reflected poorly on him.
A more likely situation was that the now-seventh-year Nebraska head coach wanted his starter to succeed so badly, he wouldn’t (and perhaps couldn’t) say “no more”.
Maybe, just maybe, Pelini had no choice. There was one Martinez that was nearly as familiar to die-hard fans of the Huskers as Taylor: his father, Casey.
In hindsight, the helicopter parenting was blatantly obvious.
The torture through which Casey Martinez put his eldest son would have broken a weaker athlete; would have burned him out on football. Taylor couldn’t get enough.
In high school stadiums and in public parks, passers-by have long stopped and stared, or taken a seat in the stands, as father has put his son through sprints and plyometrics. For starters. A former Iowa State safety whose career was cut short by a knee injury, Casey prefers to “bring [Taylor] to a state of pure physical and mental exhaustion.” - Austin Murphy, SI.com, Oct. 15, 2010
Even in 2010, that read like a former player trying to live through his son. Didn’t matter, though, because his son was amazing to watch.
Later on that year during the infamous 9-6 officiating botchamania that was Nebraska-Texas A&M, Casey called his son in the locker room to check on him following potential injury, a team violation.
To his last days as a football player, Casey was Taylor’s mouthpiece. I don’t blame Casey’s son. He was living in his natural environment. Didn’t know better.
The Huskers now move on and must legitimately address football players on the roster without parents attached at the hip.
Tommy Armstrong, Jr.’s heading into fall camp the starter. I know that because like Martinez, not only does he have quickness, he has experience.
He posted a 7-1 record as a starter in 2013, but where’s the substance?
Armstrong led Nebraska to a win over South Dakota State which was a great scrimmage to see what he could do. Against Illinois, he tossed two TD passes, but Ameer Abdullah also had a career-high 225 rushing yards and just as many scores.
He threw three picks in a 44-7 win over Purdue. The next week, we saw Martinez trotted out against Minnesota, the game that likely drove his football career into the ground making an already bad foot injury worse.
Next came Northwestern and, all due respect to No. 4, can he even really credit himself for that victory?
His performance late in the game against Michigan was fantastic as he led a 75-yard scoring drive that chewed up over six minutes of clock.
He can’t be forgiven for what happened against Michigan State, though. Picked off and two fumbles gift-wrapped for the Spartans.
What makes the loss totally inexcusable is that the Huskers had every opportunity to knock off the No. 14 team in the country despite five turnovers. He was yanked early against Penn State and Kellogg helped secure a 23-20 overtime victory.
His effort against Georgia deserves applause as even though both teams were torn apart and playing in crappy conditions, Armstrong was one of few shining stars.
Out of seven victories, I’d credit two largely due to Armstrong’s efforts. If Kellogg wasn’t around, Pelini more than likely doesn’t have a job in Lincoln this year and Bill Callahan has company in the record department.
The quarterback job was handled as well as possible once Martinez went down for good (though he shouldn’t have seen Goldy on the sidelines in the first place). That said, if Armstrong really is The Man in 2014, fantastic.
Pelini can’t stubbornly stand by a candy-coated record if things go south in Fresno or against the Hurricanes.
Get Johnny Stanton snaps against Florida Atlantic and McNeese State which shouldn’t be an issue if this is Tommy’s team. There should be enough of a lead to get Ryker Fyfe into the mix, too.
A one-point win over both early opponents shouldn’t be shunned if points are sacrificed for experience.
Those investments could very well result in an undefeated non-conference slate and walking out of East Lansing with a victory.
It’d start controversy if Nebraska only beat FAU by 3 or McNeese State by 10, but who cares? A win is a win early on if that’s the plan, and if it equates to the first conference title the Huskers have seen since 1999, so be it.
More importantly, Pelini can’t be afraid to pull the trigger if Armstrong struggles as he did last year. While he won nearly 88 percent of the contests he technically started, one quarterback’s going to come out ahead this fall.
If it’s not Armstrong and he continues to play just for the sake of having been on the field longer, Nebraska’s looking at trouble down the line.
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