What's Up with the Health of Nebraska Quarterback Taylor Martinez?

Andrew Coppens@@andycoppensContributor IOctober 1, 2013

Sep 14, 2013; Lincoln, NE, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Taylor Martinez (3) passes against the UCLA Bruins in the third quarter at Memorial Stadium. UCLA won 41-21. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska's issues haven't been completely confined to the defensive side of the football, despite the spotlight that side of the ball has gotten, and now we may know why. 

It appears that the pesky turf-toe injury has hit Huskers' star quarterback Taylor Martinez

For a quarterback who is now the second leading active career rusher in FBS football, that injury and its nagging nature can be a major hindrance to success. 

Don't believe me? Just look at the numbers for Martinez from healthy to the sideline.

Martinez went from 16 rushing attempts in Week 1 to 16 total over the next two weeks. He went from 80 yards in the opener against Wyoming to 34 yards against Southern Miss to -13 yards in the loss to UCLA. 

All without a single rushing touchdown so far this season.

Clearly something wasn't right, and the numbers were equally downhill in the passing game, mainly because Martinez was forced to become more of a pocket passer with the toe injury.

Martinez went from completing 77.3 percent of his 22 passes against Wyoming to 65.2 percent of 23 attempts in Week 2, and finally just 60 percent of 35 attempts against UCLA. 

LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMBER 7: Quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. #4 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers eyes linebacker Alan Howze #37 of the Southern Miss Golden Eagles during their game at Memorial Stadium on September 7, 2013 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska defeated
Eric Francis/Getty Images

It clearly was a slippery slope to the sidelines for the senior. 

Luckily, after suffering through the injury for a week, Martinez got some much needed rest thanks to last week's bye. 

Now the question is will Martinez be healthy enough to go this week

He wasn't two weeks ago, and in his place was the duo of Tommy Armstrong and Ron Kellogg III. 

The results of having a healthy quarterback (even if it was a two-headed monster) sure show what this offense could be capable of. 

In the win over South Dakota State, Armstrong and Kellogg III led the Huskers offense to over 300 yards rushing and 300 yards passing for the first time in school history. 

There is no doubt that playing Martinez, a dynamic playmaker and a senior with over 10,000 total yards to his name, gives Nebraska a great chance to win football games—but only if he's 100 percent healthy. 

After that one performance by Armstrong and Kellogg III, head coach Bo Pelini has a lot of faith in the duo and it also has a lot to do with what is around those two. 

"I have a lot of confidence in those younger guys, the young quarterbacks," said Pelini on the Big Ten coaches teleconference on Tuesday. "They don't have to do it by themselves. There is some talent around them, some guys that have experience and also guys that have confidence in what those guys can do. I think that they are both good football players."

With targets like Quincy Enunwa and Kenny Bell to get the ball into the pass game, and Ameer Abdullah behind them at running back, Nebraska's offense hums along pretty well with a fully mobile quarterback at their disposal. 

Turf-toe can be a nasty, nagging injury and Taylor Martinez is likely to not be 100 percent at any point going forward, so watching to see how the numbers shape up should he play this week and in subsequent weeks will be very interesting. 

If Martinez struggles to do what he does best, don't be surprised to see Pelini go to the backups to get the job done. 

Let's not forget that Pelini is also squarely on the hot seat and it would behove him to do what will win him football games over satisfying the ego of one player. 


*Andy Coppens is the Big Ten Lead Writer. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes are firsthand. Follow Andy on Twitter for more of the B1G conversation.