Is A One-Time Heisman Hopeful’s Starting Career Over at Nebraska?

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

A game that is expected to be a knockout battle by two high-powered offenses may feature one team missing its top thrower.

Entering this season Nebraska Cornhusker quarterback Taylor Martinez was poised to lead his team for one last season. Martinez’s name was mentioned in the Heisman race early in the season last year, and he was also on some watch lists this season. He was forced to sit out for the first time last week for Nebraska’s match up against South Dakota State.

It looks like the Huskers will once again be without their highly-decorated signal caller this week as the team opens Big Ten play against the Illinois Fighting Illini.

There are plenty of quarterbacks that Husker fans can recall and whose faces still adorn the walls of man caves throughout the Cornhusker State. Tommie Frazier wore no. 15 and led Tom Osborne’s Cornhuskers teams to back-to-back national titles.

Brook Berringer was the inspirational backup who filled in for the electrifying Frazier when Frazier was battling potentially career ending blood clots. Berringer is a state hero who tragically died in a plane crash, but who is still remembered throughout out the state.

In fact players at Nebraska consider being a member of the Brook Berringer Citizenship Team a great honor. Also Scott Frost a player from Wood River Nebraska whose father and mother were his high school coaches, and left his scholarship at Stanford only to join Osborne’s Huskers and lead the team to a national title, defeating Peyton Manning in the final game of the season.

Frost is now the offensive coordinator for the high-scoring Oregon Ducks. Most recently, the Huskers saw Eric Crouch win the Heisman trophy in 2001.

With all of these extraordinary quarterbacks, who would have thought that Martinez may go down as a more productive quarterback of them all. Martinez holds the Nebraska record for total offense, passing yards, completions, touchdown passes, starts, single-season total offense, single-season total touchdowns and single-game rushing yards by a quarterback.

This is a man who is now a senior and should have the rest of the season to break countless other records, or at least add to the ones he already owns. So how could there even be a possibility that Martinez’s time as the starting quarterback at Nebraska is setting?

There are a number of reasons that the passing of the torch may be sooner than later in Lincoln. No. 1 would have to be the turmoil in Lincoln. Unfortunately, the team has not impressed their fan base thus far in 2013. Fans want to see the offense do what everyone around the country knows they are capable of doing.

They also want to see a young, inexperienced defense overachieve because they have one of the great defensive minds in college football as their head coach. Unfortunately, fans have not seen this. Instead, they have heard a tape released in which coach Bo Pelini expressed some disgust about NU fans. If fans are calling for another quarterback, Pelini may have to give them something this season. But why would they call for a new quarterback?

Nebraska has historically been a program whose fan base who has a rabid desire to see young players on the field so that they may discuss the future of the program. Tommy Armstrong sure seems to be the future at quarterback for the Huskers, and fans want him to prove it on the field.

Fans desperately called for Joe Dailey to replace Jamal Lord after Lord had put in his time helping the Huskers in whatever role he was asked to fill. Fans also favored Crouch over a very talented Bobby Newcombe before a knee injury gave Crouch the role and set him on the path to his Heisman trophy.

A lot of speculation has gone on about Martinez’s future at Nebraska. Is it time for him to finish his career at a different position to prepare for a potential pro career in a position similar to the one former Michigan Wolverines alum and current Jacksonville Jaguars player Denard Robinson.

Martinez has a tendency to turn the ball over, and this is not an attribute NFL GMs are looking for. Martinez has lead college football in fumbles each of his three years at Nebraska. If Armstrong has a strong game, it may be the end for Martinez at NU.

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