The guy who touches the ball every offensive snap, the guy who has the most difficult position to play in all of sports, and the guy who is your team's leader 9 times out of 10, is kind of a big deal. In most cases he can make or break a game and a season. That's why QB play is ingredient #4 for a successful football team. If you missed ingredient #5, check it out here.
As a quick refresher, this is one man's thoughts on 5 main ingredients for a successful football team:
1. Big Uglies
4. QB Play
Which brings us to Nebraska's starting QB........what's his name again? Oh, yeah, Taylor Martinez. He has been talked about, critiqued, dissected, praised, criticized and everything in-between ad-nauseam over the past two years. He's now a 4th year junior and 3rd year starter with 25 games under his belt. He has been brilliant at times (my daughter and I shared the special moment in Memorial Stadium when he took his very first college snap to the house in electrifying manner), and downright awful (don't just crumble in the pocket under a heavy rush).
But what should we expect out of him this year? No need to recant all the offseason foot work and throwing motion work with assorted QB gurus across the country, nor talk about how he's coming out of his shell in front of the media. The bottom line is: How is his play going to benefit or detract from the Cornhusker's 2012 season?
1. He needs to limit his turnovers. He improved dramatically over the 2nd half of the season in respect to interceptions. He needs to continue that trend. Although he improved on ball security, he still has a propensity to have fumble-itis from time to time.
2. He needs to be smart. Throw the ball away when there's nothing there. Slide when you have to slide.Check into the right plays pre-snap. Yes, the dreaded "manage the offense" montage.
3. He needs to get a better feel for the pocket. When the rush comes, particularly from the defensive ends, he doesn't seem to have the natural QB "feel" for the pocket. Sometimes all it takes is a side shuffle, or a step or two forward, to buy an extra second to allow the wide receivers to get open. I don't know if this can be taught, but if we want to be a team that can throw when we have to throw (3rd and long, coming from behind, etc.), he needs to become more comfortable in the pocket.
4. Finally, he needs to be explosive with his feet and arm from time to time. He has the weapons around him to deliver with his arm, but defenses will have to game plan around his running prowess if he shows the burst and breakaway speed again. That could really open things up for Burkhead and the rest of the offense. Hit Reed down the seam for big gainers. Get Jamal Turner and Ameer Abdullah the ball in open space. Throw it anywhere Kenny Bell happens to be. And run the zone read like he did the first half of 2010.
Count me in the pro-Martinez camp. Let's give him some credit. He's humble enough to take a dressing down from his coach in stride and brush off constant criticism from fans and media. He's confident enough to state his goal is a National Championship. By the time his career is over, he'll more than likely hold many significant passing, rushing, and total offensive records. I think the QB play for the 2012 Nebraska Cornhuskers will prove good enough to win the B1G, and thus provide another necessary ingredient for a successful football season.