Steven M. Sipple: Huskers benefit from 'odd couple' at QB

2013-03-26T23:55:00Z 2013-03-27T17:12:12Z Steven M. Sipple: Huskers benefit from 'odd couple' at QB JournalStar.com

Regarding Nebraska's offense, Ron Kellogg III speaks with authority and a high degree of credibility.

Same goes for when he opens up about Taylor Martinez.

Kellogg chuckles at the notion that Martinez is "uptight" (Kellogg's word). In fact, Martinez is refreshingly "down-to-earth and laid-back," says the affable Kellogg, who will be Taylor's off-campus roommate starting next month.

Kellogg and Martinez "are like the odd couple," Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck says with a chuckle.

In some ways, perhaps. Kellogg, the Huskers' No. 2 quarterback, is a prototypical pass-first guy who, unlike Martinez, has obvious limitations as a runner. Kellogg, at least on the surface, is a bit more easygoing — not that it matters at all to me.

It's interesting talking to Kellogg because he knows aspects of Martinez's game that a layman might not recognize.

"The main thing we notice is Taylor is a field general now," says Kellogg, a senior walk-on from Omaha Westside High School. "It's definitely his team. I guess people don't really notice that when (they) watch the games on TV. But if you're on the sideline watching him, you can see him taking charge."

Nebraska on Monday completed its ninth spring practice. The Huskers will practice five more times before the April 6 Red-White scrimmage.

The coaches will continue to be cautious with Martinez, a full-time starter since his freshman year. No need to test him extensively in scrimmages. They know what they have in Martinez — a dynamic runner and improving passer. Someone capable of big plays both on the ground and through the air, but also someone who has held back the offense with too many turnovers.

Kellogg knows perhaps better than anyone what Nebraska has in Martinez. A passive California kid? Well, not quite, Kellogg says. No way a passive quarterback could orchestrate last season's run of comeback wins.

"That was all him," Kellogg says. "Being able to make the right checks and throw the ball to the right person depending on coverage, you could see he'd been studying film and working on it. That was all the dedication he's put into it."

Kellogg knows all the nooks and crannies of Beck's no-huddle, spread system. Kellogg says he is like a "mini-coach," yet relates to Martinez on a player-to-player level. They study video. Kellogg makes suggestions. On gameday, he is in direct communication with Martinez "80 to 90 percent of the time," he says.

In other words, Kellogg's role is imperative, both on the playing field and off.

"You kind of take Ronnie for granted sometimes," Beck says. "It's rare to have a guy who's so unselfish, team-driven. He really does know his role. He competes and pushes Taylor hard. He pushes Tommy (Armstrong). They all push each other.

"By the same token, (Kellogg) wants the best player to be playing and he wants that best player to be the absolute best player he can be."

Kellogg knows what it takes for a quarterback to make Beck's offense click.

To that end, Kellogg says it's imperative for the QB to position players correctly "because we're always moving." The tempo is fast, and Beck wants it even faster in 2013.

Kellogg appreciates the freedom Beck's offense affords quarterbacks. Beck likes to tell his QBs they "have the chalk last," meaning if they see reason to change a play Beck calls from the press box, hey, go for it.

"You have to make sure you know what the safeties are doing because that's key — we could change (the play) at any moment," Kellogg says. "You really just have to get the team in a good play" relative to what the defense is showing.

Because calls occur at the line of scrimmage, with the play clock ticking, it becomes a formidable mental challenge, Kellogg says.

Even in practice.

"You have coach Bo (Pelini), who's throwing out all these different defenses — ones you never see during the season — but it's a good thing for us, especially for Taylor," Kellogg says. "Sometimes it gets cloudy, but with all the repetition in practice, it becomes easy once the season comes around."

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Kellogg, who appeared in four games last season, prides himself on getting the ball to the right people in the right places.

"Just being a field general," he says. "I mean, Taylor does it, too. We all do. That's our main mission. Get the ball. Get completions. Don't make weird throws. Don't throw interceptions, fumble or get sacked. Just get positive yards and score."

Be a distributor. In that regard, it makes sense Kellogg started two seasons as a point guard at Westside. His father, Ron Kellogg Jr., was a left-handed sharp-shooter at Kansas, an All-Big Eight player who in 1985 made 16 of 19 field-goal attempts at the Devaney Sports Center.

I'll never forget the crowd's gasps of utter disbelief as Kellogg made shot after shot, mostly from long range.

Kellogg III shoots (and throws) with his right hand. Nevertheless, the younger Kellogg says his shot was "pretty silky."

He's quick with a smile. Easygoing. But he also is serious about his job. Yeah, like Martinez.

Kellogg would know.

Reach Steven M. Sipple at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com.

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About the writer

Steven M. Sipple | Lincoln Journal Star

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.


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