Last night, my Twitter feed blew up with more accusations about Pelini losing it after being asked about Taylor Martinez and the criticism he's received this week. I was swamped and couldn't dig into it last night. This morning, Dirk Chatelain of the World-Herald tried to make it a crisis. So what did I miss?
Finally on the radio this morning, I heard the actual post-practice interview. Pelini was calm and reasonable, but obviously disagreed with all the furor over Taylor Martinez's performance last week. And no matter what certain members of the media and fan base think and want the rest of fans to think, Taylor Martinez is taking way too much grief over the Wisconsin game.
Did Martinez play a great game in Madison? Hardly. Three interceptions were very damaging. But other mistakes were far more damaging. First and foremost, the failure of the Blackshirts to stop the Badgers for the final 35 minutes of the game. When Wisconsin last punted, they trailed the Huskers 14-13. The Badgers went on a 34 point scoring run...and only 21 of that can be -partially- blamed on Martinez. Since no interception was a pick-6 or was even returned into scoring position, the defense shares the blame on those points.
And let's not forget the game plan that had Nebraska abandon the running game at the end of the first half. Nebraska's offense needs to be balanced, and the Huskers stepped away from balance. And it burned them. That's not Martinez's fault that he was put into difficult situations.
Sam McKewon chimed in this morning on Twitter that "fixing D(efense) more important than Martinez." KLIN radio's John Bishop agreed. If Martinez throws incompletions instead of picks, Nebraska still loses...and probably still 48-17. All this focus on Martinez is more circus and frenzy than substance.
I get that quarterback is the public's fixation of the team. But teams can win with subpar quarterback play (see Trent Dilfer's Super Bowl ring). Nebraska's biggest problem isn't Martinez, it's a defense that isn't performing anywhere near expectations. Heck, we learned in 2009 that Nebraska can win with subpar offense.
All this Martinez criticism serves almost no purpose. There's a very simple reason why Taylor Martinez is playing quarterback for Nebraska: He's the best quarterback on the roster. Period. Is he a great passer? Absolutely not. He's been somewhere between mediocre and average through the air. But he is a playmaker with his legs. His ball fakes still leave defenses looking silly. His speed burns everybody. And he runs tough, in my opinion. Does he need to work on ball security? Yes...but as we've seen, he's working on that as well.
Cody Green is in Tulsa. Kody Spano had to hang up his shoulder pads. Jamal Turner is best suited to be a wide receiver. Brion Carnes has looked especially green in his limited playing time this season. Whether you like it or not, Martinez is Nebraska's quarterback this season, barring injury.
So if the Chatelains and anonymous message board posters want to manufacture a controversy, that's their business. But they are woefully misguided.