You ever had to use crutches? Well, if you have, and you had one break, you know what kind of a pain in the behind that can be.
Well, think of yourself as Nebraska. And then think of the crutches as the offense and defense. Yes, I know special teams matters, and they have saved Nebraska more than a few times. But for the sake of the analogy, let's look at the two sides which see the most time on the field.
But here's the problem: While one crutch is the defense, the other, and I am loathe to admit that for the sake of a team wanting to have an identity beyond one guy - that other crutch is indeed Taylor Martinez.
And you know as well as I do, when that kid was healthy he was almost unstoppable. We got wooed by his speed, enamored by his quickness and the more quotes we read about how other teams just couldn't figure out a way to stop him, the more it entrenched him in everyone's mind as the guy.
Forget all the turnovers, and this kid has been a turnover machine since the beginning.
Forget the unusual lapses of reason that has him throwing, pitching, chucking and heaving balls in situations where you'd assume any reasonable person might find an alternate plan. Then there is the other end of the spectrum where he hasn't been able to find a way out of a hole with his feet, and if he's not inexplicably throwing the ball to nowhere in particular, he's holding it - taking a sack he probably didn't need to take.
He's carless. But he's also a freshman. Those two are almost soul mates.
|Brion Carnes doesn't have to be the guy, but he has to be capable of it.|
But once he got injured against Missouri, it all went to hell in a hand basket. Martinez couldn't run, thus he was barely a shadow of his former self. It worked out OK, against Oklahoma State, as Martinez threw for over 300 yards, tossed five touchdowns and didn't have an interception to his name.
But Oklahoma State's defense is so bad it should be on the back of milk cartons.
Outside of them, it was a pretty pedestrian offense...with a limp.
But did Taylor Martinez ever leave the field?
He did briefly when he basically couldn't walk. But even with a noticeable limp the coaches kept throwing him out there, only to watch him run with no confidence, make numerous errors and probably put his own team in a deeper hole than it would have been if they had just any faith in the quarterback behind him.
Maybe faith isn't the right word.
Sophomore Cody Green is a good player. He's a very physical runner, and I honestly believe now (I didn't earlier in the year) that if he was given time to develop, he could help this offense in his own way.
But there's the rub.
His way isn't the way this offense is perceived. I don't know if that perception has been driven by Shawn Watson or Bo. My first guess would be Bo. Watson has always been a West Coast guy, and has never been shy of saying it. This whole option thing is something I have to believe he's not all that chipper about running, because it's not something he knows up and down, through and through, like the offense that former football legend Bill Walsh perfected.
Planning an offensive scheme is about steps. Not A,B, C, necessarily. It's about designing your scheme around your personnel and then orchestrating the music to match. It's not going to work if there is no rhythm.
But I think we have seen that Martinez' rhythm is a little different than everyone else's.
How do you design a running attack with a mobile QB who can hit full speed in three steps. And then expect that same offense to work when the quarterback behind him takes about 15 yards to get to full speed?
One is 6-2 and the other is 6-4. One is about 200 lbs., while the other is around 240.
They're different. And in some ways, very different.
That means a very different offense.
It does give one a whole new appreciation for the coaches who go with two quarterback systems where one is a runner and the other is a thrower.
But the thing about that is that when one comes in, everyone knows how to adjust and they all know that the game plan is going to be different.
The Huskers have been trying to run the same offense with both Taylor and Cody.
|Jamal Turner may be the closest thing to Martinez in regard to physical ability.|
It doesn't work. It's not going to work.
That's why I believe there has been this almost insufferable stubbornness to keep Taylor in the game and play him when he wasn't healthy. The offense was built around him.
Well, him prior to the Missouri game.
I talked to Shawn Watson about the skill set Martinez had and how it seemed as if they simply didn't have another guy who could do what he did.
That's a pretty obvious statement, but you know how coaches are. They will say everyone is the same. They will tell you the offense never changed. They have as much confidence in the second, third and fourth guy as they do their number one.
They have to say that. You don't downgrade the other quarterbacks when you are trying to inspire competition.
Whether it's because he's out the door or maybe it's due to the fact that this is the end of the season, Watson admitted that no other quarterback on the team had Martinez' skill set.
Now they have to find someone who does.
I don't know if it's going to be Brion Carnes, who we have heard a lot about or Jamal Turner, who will be enrolling early. Heck, it could be someone else entirely. But until those guys get their crack at the starting job, we are not going to see this offense move forward.
And I do believe this is the offense Nebraska wants to run and will run, whether Watson is the guy running it or not. It's a great offense, and if run effectively, it's very hard to stop.
But you need more than one guy.
You need that so that if Martinez is the guy and he does go down, you don't end up in the situation Nebraska did this year, not having a real alternative who you knew could run the offense the same way Martinez could.
You need that so that Martinez will be forced to correct some of his ridiculous mistakes. If anyone else on the team had thrown those two balls that Martinez did in the Holiday Bowl. You which ones I am talking about. The throws that weren't throws. They were pitches to nobody in particular.
If anyone else would have thrown those, they would have been pulled and that would be that.
Martinez is the guy, because there is no other.
Nebraska needs Carnes to be the real deal. They need Turner to be the real deal. They need to be able to push Martinez to the point he either fixes some of the mental hiccups he's almost habitually committing or to the point that they take his job and make him earn it back.
There is nobody right now who can do that. Even gimpy, he was always the only option for the Husker coaches. When you have one option, you don't really have any. This isn't soccer after all. The injuries suffered in this sport are very real.
And to think that up to the point Martinez is hurt, you can think about a division title, conference title and a legit shot in a BCS game or perhaps the BCS game.
He gets injured and that's it.
Nebraska will get better with this offense, but it will only happen when they have choices beyond Martinez who can run this offense similarly to him. Until that happens, what we have seen this last half of the season, will repeat itself over and over again.
You may hope to have one guy leading the way, but you need more than one guy capable of doing it.
If you don't, with him you are looking ahead and wondering. Without him you are only wondering what could have been.
They need more options than that.