Is it Better to Be Lucky or Good?

It goes without saying that the amount of success that Nebraska has on the field in 2014 will have a great deal to do with the play of their quarterback.  But the fickle finger of fate has a way of nudging teams toward victory or defeat that can't really be foreseen.  For all of the productivity over his career, it would be hard to call Taylor Martinez lucky.  Despite more modest productivity, you could call Tommy Armstrong lucky.  Which means more?


Bad Days for Martinez
Seemingly nothing could go wrong for Taylor Martinez in his freshman campaign until Texas came to town.  You could say Martinez was benched during the game for poor play, which might be fair.  But you could also point to three dropped touchdown passes by Husker receivers and a fumble by Roy Helu which could hardly be blamed on Martinez.  You could point to 16 flags for 145 yards against the Huskers at Texas A&M that year versus just 2 for 10 yards against the Aggies.  Was that Taylor's fault in a 3-point defeat?  You could point to a Sooner timeout that thwarted a fake punt or a pair of fumbles by NU running backs in a 3-point loss to OU that year.  Or being rematched with an uninspiring bowl opponent in a redundant destination.  

Could Martinez be blamed for costly red zone fumbles by Rex Burkhead or Quincy Enunwa in a 3-point loss to Northwestern the following year?  Or fumbles by Kenny Bell and Tim Marlowe at Michigan?  Or a blocked PAT return, a Hail Mary yielded to Alshon Jeffery, and a red zone fumble by Ameer Abdullah against South Carolina?

How about a lost Abdullah fumble or a missed field goal against UCLA his junior year?  Or a blocked punt, missed field goal, and lost Abdullah fumble against Georgia?  Or an injury marred senior campaign?  You can call Martinez a lot of things, but lucky probably isn't one of them

Fortune for Armstrong

In a bizarre way you could call the injury to Martinez good luck for Armstrong.  It got Armstrong on the field and gave him a major leg up to be the starter next year.  You could call it lucky that Armstrong's first 3 starts came against bad teams in South Dakota State, Illinois, and Purdue.  You might call it lucky that the loss at Minnesota can't be pinned on him, since an injured Martinez played instead.  Armstrong was the starter against Northwestern but certainly benefitted from the Avery Moss interception return and Hail Mary throw by Ron Kellogg after his own interception appeared likely to cost the Huskers the game.  He could certainly be grateful his defense kept NU in the game to eke out a victory over Michigan.  He is fortunate to be the starter of record against Penn State despite a comeback victory that was engineered by Ron Kellogg.  He didn't face Iowa, so the blame for that loss can't be pinned on him there either.  Against Georgia, he certainly benefitted from Quincy Enunwa's run after the catch for the decisive touchdown and the dropped passes by Bulldogs to end the game.

Armstrong doesn't measure up to Martinez statistically as a passer or a runner.  However, his win-loss percentage as a starter is one Martinez would be envious of.  Tommy Armstrong could go through the 2014 season with unimpressive statistical output, but if he keeps winning 7 games of every 8 he starts, the team will be in far better shape.  It would be nice if he played as well or better than Martinez.  Let's just hope he's luckier. 

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Comments 13 comments so far

As we learned time & time again, if you’re gonna play in Texas, you gotta have a fiddle in the band!

Seriously, Taylor Martinez played in many games where his injuries should have kept him out of the game.  We should be deeper at the QB position going into 2014 than we have been for a long time.  Think Tommie Armstrong will be the starter, but good back ups are important to any team.

I guess I prefer Good and consistant over average , but Lucky, but we do need to see how things shake out.  It appears that NU will have some pretty good QB competition going into 2014 with several dual threat QBs in the works.  I suspect we’ll see some of them in play on the field during the Spring game when they may face our Blackshirt defense.  I hope they spent their off season time wisely and honed their skills, TA included, there’s only two kinds of luck, good or bad, but it’s hard to predict which will prevail in a game.  Skill usually wins the day.  If BOP ever has had an opportunity to forge a great football team, this is probably going to be the best chance he’ll have.  I hope he spent his off season wisely as well.  GBR

It’s a team effort.  Every QB, every player, must make the best of every situation presented.  Virtually every “lucky” thing cited above is the result of good play or poor play on the part of the team.  Playing while injured is a decision by the coach (or the player to be nor not be honest with the coach), it is not luck.  Fumbling may be “luck” if the result of a good hit by the D player, but sloppy ball handling is just that.  QE’s run?  That’s what he was supposed to do.  Like saying every touchdown by AA or KB etc. was “luck.”  Dropped passes by UG?  It was wet, and NU droppped a couple, too.  Actually, only one by UG was a pure drop - the other was a good hit by Green.

So yeah, I agree with DennisR.  Give me good and consistent.  Every time.

Come to think of it, the second drop by UG might have been a result of that previous hit by Green - receiver anticipating getting nailed again, nerves.  Maybe.  I don’t know.

Thru hard work and being good you create your own “luck”.

True that, I’ve noticed that “Good Luck” seems to happen an awful lot to certain players, and bad luck seems to consistently dog others, makes me think that good players create their own good luck, and visa versa.  I can only conclude that skill levels play an important role in both, yet even a stopped clock is correct at least twice a day.

“even a stopped clock is correct at least twice a day”

unless the refs decide otherwise.  I reckon that could be construed as “luck”


Helps to have, you know, some gray matter thats firing on all or most cylinders as well, being acutely aware of one’s surroundings can be considered a very good thing, when it comes to ‘luck’.


Excellent point, e.g., JM’s fumble recovery v UG, Compton’s INT v UG, Suh’s INT4TD v Colorado….


Yep, a big part of “luck” is being in the ‘here and now’, seeing whats right in front of your face while those around you are blah blah blah in their confusion.

I was curious…under the the now un-proposed 10-second rule, would NU have beaten Texas in the Big12 CG by default?


Eh, the rule doesn’t apply in the final 2 minutes of either half, however, It would not have mattered as the clock expired anyway.  It was a consciencious effort of the refs to give Texas another opportunity to score.  Hence the phantom PI call that put texas within field goal range.  They wanted Texas to play Alabama for the NC and well, we all know how that turned out.

Seems to me that the real turning point in that game was when NU intercepted Texas near the end zone and then fumbled the pic by trying to advance the ball.  NU could have easily run out the clock.  At least I think that’s what happened.  I’m sure I’ll hear about it if not.

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