Can One Play Create a Quarterback Controversy At Nebraska?
The Nebraska Cornhuskers won a game on Saturday against the Northwestern Wildcats at the end of regulation on a Hail Mary pass from redshirt senior QB Ron Kellogg III to redshirt freshman WR Jordan Westerkamp.
The play came to be for a number of reasons. This game saw Huskers redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong get yet another start because senior quarterback Taylor Martinez was once again sidelined due to injury. Previously, it has been reported that Martinez was sitting out due to a turf toe, but recent revelations following the Huskers’ disappointing loss to the Minnesota Golden Gophers have uncovered that Martinez is also hobbled by a hip injury.
The Huskers staff has admitted that between Martinez two replacements, the elder Kellogg has the far superior arm. So in the fourth quarter with time winding down and an entire football field to traverse, coach Pelini and offensive coordinator Tim Beck elected to pull Armstrong, who had already tossed three interceptions in the game, in favor of Kellogg. What ensued will live on in Huskers lore as long as Husker nation speaks of Hail Marys.
Now there are again questions for the Huskers staff two ponder as they prepare for next week’s match up with the Michigan Wolverines in the Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The most interesting topic to follow will be who gets the time under center for the Huskers offense.
First, we have the record-setting senior Martinez. The staff undoubtedly would have preferred to have their star senior healthy and effective all season, but that has not been the case. Now they must seriously consider the well being of both Martinez, who undoubtedly will attempt to enter the draft following this season, and the team’s chances to compete for a chance in at a Big Ten title this season.
If Martinez returns, will he have a hard time developing chemistry with his teammates after missing so much time this year? Would the Huskers staff be doing their senior quarterback a favor by allowing him an opportunity to display his skills at another position in preparation for the NFL draft? The Wolverines allowed Dennard Robinson to do the same last season as he was allowed to play wide receiver.
The Huskers also have the freshman Armstrong, who has shown great promise this season. Armstrong seems to be the future for Nebraska under center. If he were allowed to finish the season, he would gain a great deal of experience in preparation for his sophomore season, that could see him and I-back Ameer Abdullah return for a senior season.
This duo would present a very versatile backfield next season. Armstrong has great leadership skills but needs to polish his passing game, which was evident in his inability to take care of the ball on Saturday.
Finally, the Huskers have the man of the hour, Kellogg. The senior is truly the big man on campus as he is listed at 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, but looks much larger on the field. Kellogg is a great leader who has polished his passing skills in his time on campus. He has been a solid contributor to the Huskers program throughout his career, earning a scholarship for his final season.
Kellogg has a firm grasp of the Huskers offense and has perfected it alongside Martinez for four years. He showed that he is equally capable of leading this Huskers squad. This is a tough decision for Pelini and his fellow coaches to make. If Martinez remains unable to perform, then that easily eliminates one of the candidates. It should be interesting to see what happens, but most likely Kellogg will and Armstrong will once again be splitting snaps.