Greater Injury Impact: Spencer Long or Taylor Martinez
The worst thing to come out of the game against Purdue last Saturday was the injury to Spencer Long. He will be out for the season. For now, he will likely be replaced with Junior Mike Moudy and a potential rotation of Sophomores Givens Price and Ryne Reeves. Like the Taylor Martinez injury, younger players will get their chance at playing time up front. Unlike the Martinez injury, there is no chance of Long coming back this season. What effect this will have on the Huskers as they enter into the most difficult part of the season is up for debate.
The playing time of Tommy Armstrong Jr. and Ron Kellogg III against SDSU, Illinois, and Purdue have been more than acceptable to put away the weaker opponents. Armstrong took a bit of a step back this last week while Kellogg continued to look like the comfortable senior he is. A BYE week followed by the Minnesota game means potentially two more full weeks of Martinez getting rest for his turf toe, and another week of the QB backup rotation.
While the backups have shown some poise against the last three opponents, the last half of the season has 3 away games. The very difficult trips to Ann Arbor and State College could rattle any seasoned or young player. The plans of the Husker coaching staff seem to include getting a healthy Martinez on the field as soon as possible. If he returns, then his injury will have sidelined him for only the weakest part of the schedule. The biggest impact appeared to have been the affects of his injury in the UCLA game.
The impact of Long's injury will be to the running game first. He was a candidate for an All-Conference player at the least and replacing him with anyone is going to be a step down. The stronger run defenses on the schedule are coming up. Only if Moudy and the others can contribute at the same level with they be able to maintain the same downhill running that existed in the first half of the season. They will not get the same number of "tune up" efforts as the backup QB's to make sure they are up to game speed. If Martinez is back and healthy, it is not known if a missing piece on the line will cause the same type of issues as not having your starting QB.