As if this week wasn’t eventful enough for Nebraska.
Now, the Huskers may play Saturday’s football game against FCS No. 6 South Dakota State without their starting quarterback.
Senior Taylor Martinez has a turf toe injury, Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said, and didn’t practice Tuesday, leaving his playing status in question.
Martinez left the practice field in a walking boot on his left foot — the same walking boot he wore after Nebraska’s 41-21 loss to UCLA last Saturday.
“We’re going to keep him in the boot the next couple days,” Pelini said, “and then kind of proceed and see how it goes.”
Nebraska, after playing South Dakota State, has a bye week, meaning Martinez could essentially use three weeks to heal if he didn’t play Saturday.
But if Martinez is healthy, offensive coordinator Tim Beck said, he’ll play.
“The trainers, we trust them in their decisions. I trust Taylor,” Beck said. “Whenever he feels like, and however he feels, if he’s able to go do it, he can do it.
“We’re behind him, and he’s our quarterback. If he feels like he can’t and he’s putting himself at risk … we’ve got a long season ahead of us, and we’ve got two guys who are battling their guts out right now. We’ll see what those guys can do. We’ll just play it by ear.”
Senior Ron Kellogg and redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong, who both played in Nebraska’s second game, against Southern Mississippi, are sharing equal practice reps in Martinez’s absence.
Beck wouldn't say which which player would start should Martinez not play.
“As far as running the function of our offense, knowing what they need to do and how they need to do it, they do a good job,” Beck said.
“Ronny’s a calming influence, a veteran, smart, understands the offense, gets in good plays. Tommy brings a lot of energy and toughness to it, runs the football maybe a little bit better than Ronny does.
“Two different personalities, but certainly can do what we need them to do.”
Beck said he’s not sure how long Martinez has been ailing, and can’t point to any specific play, in practice or in a game, when he may have suffered the injury.
“It’s just kind of been a nagging thing,” he said.
Reporters first noticed Martinez in the walking boot Saturday, after he finished with minus rushing yardage in a game for only the second time in his career.
Martinez said then he’d been bothered by his ailment before Saturday’s game, yet told coaches he was healthy enough to play.
Beck said Martinez was “good” in practice last week, and that he thought his quarterback was ready to play, despite any lingering health issues.
But Beck wants to make certain Martinez is being honest with how he feels before he puts him back on the field. The two have discussed that, Beck said.
“Probably the most difficult, hardest decision he’ll have to make, the most unselfish thing he can do, is not play,” Beck said. “In the long run, we’re going to need him to come back and be the leader of our offense, because he is. That’s a tough decision for him to make.
“He doesn’t have to prove to me he’s a tough kid. He’s shown that over and over and over and over again through the years. If he can go, he’ll go, and I trust him to tell me that. And if he can’t, he can’t.”