There’s been a good amount of debate on whether or not Taylor Martinez should or will be Nebraska’s starting quarterback once the 2011 season begins.
Some believe that Martinez will quite literally take the ball and run with it all year.
Others feel that challengers such as Brion Carnes or even dual-sport sensation Bubba Starling will replace him at the top of the depth chart come fall.
As it stands, Taylor’s destiny is truly in his own hands, but what must he do to solidify his role as the starter?
Success can oftentimes be rebuilt on simple reflection.
Before the 2010 season, no one aside from members of he coaching staff saw Martinez as the lead man, yet he would find himself under center versus Western Kentucky from snap one.
He exploded out of the gate and absolutely dominated opposing defenses with acceleration and speed only matched by Denard Robinson of Michigan.
The question of “What’s different today from back then?” is something that Taylor should ruminate on.
One of Taylor’s biggest enemies in 2010 was himself.
Many times, the ball would be snapped and the offensive line simply couldn’t contain the seven or eight men in the box, so Martinez had to think fast.
Take off to the right?
No good, a defensive end’s crashing in.
To the left maybe?
No can do, as there’s a defensive tackle making his way directly towards the ball.
At this point, Taylor found himself four yards behind the line of scrimmage with the end result being a wasted down.
The game of football doesn’t allow for much improvisation.
He needs to trust in the playbook as well as himself.
When facing the better secondaries on Nebraska's schedule, Martinez simply didn't have the ability to make a large range of passes against them.
He can throw some short-range bullets and can chuck the ball a mile, as Cornhusker tight end Kyler Reed knows.
His throwing motion needs work if he’s going to make Tim Beck’s passing game a success.
Martinez can’t survive on frozen ropes and long bombs downfield.
Touching back on Taylor’s analysis of a play, he sometimes found himself focusing so hard on formulating a way out of trouble that the ball suddenly seemed like it was freshly dunked in water.
Ball security is vital for a quarterback that is going to be heavily involved with any kind of power run game, let alone any system that dials up option plays.
Investing in some duct tape during the offseason might be a good idea.
There’s no better group of guys for a quarterback to get to know than his offensive line.
Nebraska’s line is the difference between 20-yard scampers and a mashed Martinez.
It would benefit Taylor to take the time to get to know the guys that will be protecting him from all angles.
Learn their habits, how they react to different circumstances, what their temperaments are like.
The value of a hard-earned steak dinner after a good game can never be overlooked either.
If Taylor’s on the field, he’s controlling a brand new attack, and it’s not without high-powered weaponry.
Nebraska has perhaps one of the most talented wide receiver corps in the program's recent history, and Rex Burkhead makes for one of the nation’s most reliable running backs.
Martinez needs to realize what he can do with this firepower and take full advantage of it.
Making mistakes isn’t a fun experience, but it’s how we grow as human beings.
This goes double for athletes.
If Taylor throws an interception, he can't obsess on it.
He’s not getting that throw back, and he won’t regain a fumble that darts away from him.
He needs to simply identify and correct issues while moving forward.
Martinez clearly wants to be Superman, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
He’s a tremendous athlete, and he’s capable of amazing things, but he’s not the only one on the offense who is.
Taylor needs to lean on Burkhead to bash into and through defensive lines to wear them down.
He should relish the opportunity for Jamal Turner to take one of his passes to the house.
To one-up that idea, how about Turner tossing him a pretty pass that he then scorches a Big Ten secondary with once secured?
Taylor’s body language towards his opposition at the beginning of 2010 was simple but loud.
“I’m better than you.”
There was no arguing that point as he blazed past entire defenses early in the year.
He pointed to the stands and paid homage to Nebraska’s defense by “throwing the bones” and crossing his arms across his chest.
Call the kid cocky, but it got the job done, and after he lost that smile, he was never the same.
It's time to bring that swagger back.
Martinez could ponder the idea of being No. 1 when Nebraska opens the season against UT-Chattanooga.
He could also force himself to believe that there’s no way that anyone’s going to take the starting job from him.
The mental aspect of the game is undervalued by many.
If Taylor walks into practice every day ready to perform like the best, he will perform at his highest level.
Should that not be good enough, he needs to pick himself up, dust himself off and do it again until he’s accomplished his goal.
Martinez will have to accomplish all of this if he wants to become and remain Nebraska’s starting quarterback.
Perhaps most importantly, he needs to realize that he has to come hard or not come at all.
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