Lincoln, NE - Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead was the star in the Huskers' 24-3 victory over Michigan State, but plenty of other players stood out on Saturday including sophomore quarterback Taylor Martinez.
Martinez didn't bring fans to their feet with electric runs. He didn't rack up major yards through the air. It was his efficiency running Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck's offense that made him stand out. Sometimes being good is more than the box score, something probably everyone forgets from time to time.
Take for instance the two free offside penalty plays Martinez made. His hard cadence drew an eager Spartans defense offsides. Martinez was able to read what was happening, think quickly, and take a shot downfield with a free play. The five yards would have been good enough, but both plays also drew pass interference calls for 15 yards and a first down. More than one media member pointed out, it's probably not a play Taylor Martinez makes last season.
"I'm really proud of the way he played. He's been sick and he played really well," said Beck. "Flashy wise, it was an ugly game. There wasn't a lot of flash to it. It was about being physical. He did what he needed to do for us to win the ball game."
Martinez ran for only 23 yards on 12 carries, his lowest output on the ground this season. Through the air, he completed 7-of-13, for 80 yards and a score. All of his passing yards came in the second half.
"They were trying to take it away from him, they were playing guys wide and forcing handoffs," said Beck. "They were doing things to take him out of the game. I can't be stubborn enough to worry about statistics or egos, I just have to worry about winning.
"Ultimately, that is what quarterbacks are remembered for. You couldn't tell me Tom Brady's completion ratio, but you can tell me he won Super Bowls. It's the same with Taylor, we want him to lead us to victory."
Taylor Martinez will likely never be a quarterback who throws 18-of-22. The Husker offense doesn't need him to be Peyton Manning like. With his legs, he more than provides defensive coordinators headaches and sleep deprivation through out the week.
Martinez has often been the first player pointed to when things go bad. Halfway through his sophomore year, he's 15-5 overall under center– numbers that point to a promising career after it's all said and done.