Taylor Martinez Starts as Huskers Top Hilltoppers
Nebraska Beats Western Kentucky 49-10
When Bo Pelini said this week that he'd decline to name a starting quarterback to avoid a "media circus" it seemed a bit of a clue. After all, if returning starter Zac Lee were named the top QB, why would there be any hysteria? It took just three plays with Taylor Martinez under center to see why he became the team's new #1. His 46-yard scamper got Nebraska off to a quick 7-0 start after the Blackshirts sent the Hilltopper offense three and out. He connected on a 28-yard pass to Rex Burkhead on NU's second drive to set up a 20-yard Burkhead touchdown run. Both drives were aided by strong field position.
For the remainder of the first half, things slowed for Martinez. It was Cody Green who led the third touchdown drive of the half, which was set up by a 31-yard Niles Paul punt return and punched in by Roy Helu. Then two hurry-up drives by Martinez went three and out just prior to halftime. Things heated up again after the break for Martinez as he took the Huskers 68 yards in four plays, most of them on two Martinez runs, including the score. He'd score for a third time later in the third quarter. Green looked much more comfortable to start the season as he threw a touchdown pass to Paul in the 4th quarter. Zac Lee didn't appear until very late and mostly handed the ball off.
Defensively, Lavonte David made it clear what all the buzz was about. He had 9 tackles by halftime. The secondary seemed like the ballhawks they are made out to be, forcing two turnovers. The defensive line didn't make you forget Ndamukong Suh, but they were effective. All-in-all a good outing for the D, even if it wan't five times better than last season.
The passing of Martinez wasn't enough to silence any debate over who the starter ought to be, but it was effective enough. The threat of his runs was enough to keep Western Kentucky guessing. His passing was adequate to keep the defense honest. His passing number would have been better if not for some dropped passes.
Cameron Meredith finished the game in street clothes. Dejon Gomes limped with an apparent ankle tweak. It may not be clear the extent of the injuries until NU takes the field against Idaho next weekend.