Nebraska Cornhuskers Football: Will 2012 Be a Career Year for Taylor Martinez?

Brad WashingtonCorrespondent IIAugust 4, 2012

LINCOLN, NE - OCTOBER 29: Quarterback Taylor Martinez #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers runs for a first down against the Michigan State Spartans defense during their game at Memorial Stadium October 29, 2011 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska defeated Michigan State 24-3. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images

In 2010, Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Taylor Martinez burst onto the scene with five 100-yard rushing games in his first seven games, including a 241-yard, four-touchdown performance against Kansas State.

He also showed promise of being an accurate passer, completing 59.2 percent of his passes and throwing for 1,631 yards, 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

A rolled ankle against Missouri derailed his season statistically and his chances for a Heisman Trophy. The last five games he played—including the game he injured his ankle in—he rushed for a paltry 95 yards and finished the season with 935 yards.

His passing improved to 2,089 yards with 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2011, but he only had one 100-yard rushing game against a Big Ten opponent (Ohio State).

Nebraska is ranked No. 16 in the USA Today poll, and optimism for a strong year for Martinez is high.

With a year under his belt as a Big Ten quarterback, will this be the year Martinez becomes a top-tier duel-threat quarterback?

If Martinez can put together a 2,000-yard passing, 1,000-yard rushing season, the Cornhuskers will be one of the top Big Ten teams on the ground—thanks to running back Rex Burkhead.

Martinez likely won't make it as a quarterback at the next level—thanks to his awkward throwing motion and mechanics—but he can excel as a spread-option college quarterback.

This season will be his third year in Nebraska’s spread-option offense. The Big Ten is usually a tough conference in terms of run defense, but his experience should enable him to thrive.

Denard Robinson-type numbers in rushing may not be realistic, but he is fully acclimated to the system and he is in a perfection position to succeed.