Wisconsin junior defensive end David Gilbert made a name for himself all across the state of Nebraska when he opened up to ESPNwisconsin.com's Tom Lea about Taylor Martinez:
"I’m not convinced," Gilbert said Wednesday night. "The one game he (Martinez) didn’t play very well in they lost to UCLA. You’ve got to look at who they’ve played. You’ve got to look at who they’ve played. We’re definitely going to bring it. It’s Big Ten season.
"All that is out the window and it really doesn’t matter. All that matters is we’ve got to line up and we’ve got to hit him."
There's a certain amount of pot-kettle-black involved when a Wisconsin player talks down about the Huskers. But Gilbert went on.
"It still looks like he’s skipping rocks out there to me. But that’s not my concern. That’s probably more a concern of the defensive backs. My concern is hitting him. I don’t care what he throws like. I’m not trying to let him throw at all.
"He still can’t throw. I’m just going to say it. He still can’t throw. He’s not going to beat us with his arm."
And he wasn't done yet.
"They did turn the ball over a bunch of times against Idaho State. I’m not knocking Idaho State or Nebraska. They are an opponent and they’re who we have on the menu this week. We’re going to go 100 percent. That’s all the more drive. If Idaho State has three turnovers in the first quarter — that’s all I saw, I know there’s more — that just puts the emphasis on it even more for what we should be able to do."
"He’s (Martinez) the one getting the turnovers. Hitting him is going to be the key. Hitting him hard and hitting him often. Any chance I get. If you see the game (film) he tries to pitch or option away and he tries to throw a little fake, ‘I’m going to cut (block) you or I’m going to get in your way.’
"I’m going to run through that. I’m going to make him feel it as much as you can. That leads to turnovers, that mentality of getting hit over and over."
For the record, Nebraska had three turnovers against Idaho State; none in the first quarter. On the season, Martinez has lost two fumbles and thrown one interception. He leads the Big Ten in passing efficency, ranking tenth. So obviously, Gilbert hasn't been paying attention in the film room.
Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema was none-too pleased with Gilbert's comments; he'll sit out the first play of the game on Saturday night.
Needless to say, Gilbert will be certainly not be incognito on Saturday night. He'll be a marked man for his comments. Gilbert probably opened his mouth hoping to get inside Martinez's head. That's a questionable strategy. Remember the last time someone called out Martinez? It was last October, following Nebraska's loss to Wisconsin. Martinez threw three interceptions against the Badgers, leading Omaha World-Herald columnist Dirk Chatelain to call for Martinez to be benched in favor of somebody else. Who else? Dirk didn't say...just that Martinez was one bad performance away from riding the pine.
Well, Martinez went on to complete 72% of his passes in Nebraska's comeback win over Ohio State...and furthermore, Martinez only threw three interceptions in the Huskers' final eight games.
What's the moral to this story? Call out Martinez at your own risk. Martinez made Chatelain look like an utter fool last year. What will Gilbert look like by midnight Saturday night?