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Nebraska Football’s Five Most Underrated Quarterbacks Of The Past 20 Years

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Who isn’t getting enough credit?

Zac Lee vs Arkansas State

Here’s our nominations of the five most underrated QB’s of Nebraska Football since 1997.

Zac Taylor

Colorado v Nebraska Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Brian: You can have many complaints about the Nebraska years under Bill Callahan, but one thing is for sure and that he got the QB part right with Taylor.

After one year at Wake Forest, Taylor transferred to Butler County CC and then to Lincoln. After a mediocre 2005 season where he threw for 56% and 2600 yards, Taylor gave Nebraska a formidable attack with his Senior season. He improved to both nearly 60% and 3200 yards in the season. He was the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year in ‘06. In three November wins to get Nebraska to KC, he threw over 60% against Missouri, Texas A&M & Colorado.

I’m not saying that Taylor was a world stopper, lord knows he struggled vs. USC, Oklahoma & Auburn at the Cotton Bowl that year. But he did give Nebraska ample chances to win game in and game out.

Taylor Martinez

Southern Miss v Nebraska Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images

Mike: After seeing Taylor Martinez get so many votes on the “overrated” list, it’s clear that a sizable number of Husker fans don’t appreciate what Martinez did. He’s the only Nebraska quarterback to play in two conference championship games, and more importantly, he’s probably the quarterback you wanted on the field at the end of a close game.

(I hear some of you laughing. Let me finish...)

Remember 2011 against Ohio State? The next season, Martinez led comeback wins against Wisconsin, Northwestern, Michigan State and Penn State.

For as awkward as his passing style was, it actually was pretty effective. As a junior, he completed 62% of his passes and in his injury-shortened senior season, he approached 63%. His final two seasons? 33 touchdowns with 14 interceptions.

And we haven’t touched on his legs: over three and a half seasons, he rushed for 3,030 yards and 31 touchdowns. Did he ever deliver a conference championship? No...but other than Eric Crouch, nobody has. Yes, he had an odd manner in interviews and turned the ball over a few too many times. That doesn’t change the fact that he still is one of the best to ever play at Nebraska - even as much as many want to deny it.

Jammal Lord

Nebraska v Penn State Photo by Rick Stewart /Getty Images

Jon: Jammal Lord gets pooped on a lot because he didn’t win a conference championship and he was a starter on the 2003 team that went 7-7, as if going 7-7 were some sort of blasphemy against the state of Nebraska herself. I remember it at the time... I was doing some IT work at Winona State University. Winona State had (has? I’ve lost touch) a coach named Tom Sawyer who was an incredible guy and an incredible coach, and I remember talking to him, his eyes big and him saying, “But he lost 7 games...” in reference to Solich, a recognition that Solich was doomed.

Back to Lord...

Lord’s percentages aren’t good. In 2002, 95 completions in 204 attempts for a 46.6 completion percentage. Lord ran for 1,412 yards that season, for a 5.6 yard per carry average. Hey, in 2003, he increased his states to complete 48.3%, going 85 for 176. He didn’t run for as many yards, 948 on 215 attempts.

So why is Lord here? Because I liked watching Jammal Lord play for Nebraska. I felt he wasn’t surrounded by a lot of talent, but his offensive line was better than what Taylor Martinez had to go with.

That 2002 team was a sign that Nebraska was faltering. 2003, they went 10-3 with a mostly new staff that Osborne didn’t dictate as Dr. Oz dictated that Frank keep his staff intact after he left. Hmmm......

Zac Lee

Pacific Life Holiday Bowl - Nebraska v Arizona Photo By Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Jon: I’ll be honest... Lee is here, probably because it was hard to come up with five underrated quarterbacks - you’re certainly welcome to tell us why we’re wrong in the comments second. Lee gets the nod because of the 2009 season, the one where Nebraska made the Big 12 title game and came within ONE LOUSY SECOND of winning it.

Lee’s numbers aren’t the greatest. In 2009 he started 12 games (Cody Green started two), and went 177-for-302 passing for a somewhat anemic 58.6% completion percentage. He threw 14 touchdowns with 10 interceptions, also not a great statistic. He wasn’t the greatest threat on the ground either.

But there’s that conference championship game (wish I could write “Title”), a crushing 33-0 win over Arizona in the Holiday Bowl, a 10-4 record when the Nebraska fan base needed for it to look like good things were happening. Nebraska finished #14 that season.

That was Lee’s junior season. The next season, Martinez became the quarterback.

Joe Ganz

Konica Minolta Gator Bowl - Clemson Tigers v Nebraska Cornhuskers Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Dismiss Ganz’s 2007 stats as a byproduct of Kevin Cosgrove’s bend and break sieve defense, if you wish, but if you check the Nebraska record books, you’ll still find 2008 and Joe Ganz all over it. Highest completion percentage in a season (67.86%), yards (3,568) and highest passing efficiency rating (163.4) since Gerry Gdowski in 1989. His completion percentage topped 70% in six of his starts. Yep, his passing numbers pretty much tops everybody else who has played quarterback the last 20 years. Frankly, the only thing he didn’t do was get Nebraska to a conference championship game.

Poll

Vote: Who’s the most underrated Nebraska quarterback of the past 20 years?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    Zac Taylor
    (217 votes)
  • 21%
    Taylor Martinez
    (342 votes)
  • 4%
    Jammal Lord
    (73 votes)
  • 4%
    Zac Lee
    (76 votes)
  • 56%
    Joe Ganz
    (905 votes)
1613 votes total Vote Now