Long likely done for season; Martinez status unchanged

2013-10-15T16:00:00Z 2013-10-16T22:22:13Z Long likely done for season; Martinez status unchangedBy BRIAN CHRISTOPHERSON / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

The injury may not have been as bad as initially feared, but it's bad enough that Spencer Long's Husker career probably has come to a premature end.

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini confirmed Tuesday that his standout right guard is likely out for the rest of the season after suffering a knee injury early in Saturday's game against Purdue.

Long, a team captain and All-America candidate, will undergo surgery Thursday.

"Fortunately for him, we don't think it was as bad as obviously it could have been, but it looks like he'll be out for the year," Pelini said during the Big Ten teleconference. "But the prognosis going forward looks a little bit better."

The loss leaves a void on an offensive line that has seemed to be gelling and trending upward in recent weeks.

It also brings about the question as to whether Nebraska will now pull the redshirt off junior Chongo Kondolo. The Huskers had intended to redshirt the junior college transfer, but Long's injury now complicates that decision.

Kondolo was practicing with the 1s and 2s even before the injury.

"He's a possibility," Pelini said of playing Kondolo. "Let's see how this week goes and see who steps up. We're looking at all our options, and our best options."

Though Nebraska coaches feel good about Jake Cotton and Mike Moudy, who took Long's place at right guard Saturday, they'd like to have a third lineman involved in the rotation at the two guard spots.

Sophomores Givens Price and Ryne Reeves, who both were on the travel roster Saturday, are options offensive line coach John Garrison listed off after the game.

Senior Cole Pensick, who has been working at center along with Mark Pelini, also has plenty of experience at guard. But it's unclear whether the Huskers would consider giving Pensick reps at his old position.

Unclear also continues to describe the status of senior quarterback Taylor Martinez.

"Really nothing's changed there," Pelini said when asked for an update.

The coach said the quarterback continues to see improved health as he tries to recover from a turf toe injury, but the timetable for his return still depends on when Martinez can push off his foot and run like he did pre-injury.

"He's frustrated like anybody would be," Pelini said. "He's a competitor and he wants to be out there, but also is smart and knows his body and what he can do and what he can't do at this point."

Pelini said Martinez's turf toe injury isn't any worse than he thought it would be when first discovered.

It's just one of those annoying injuries that is tough to shake.

"Anytime you have that injury, and I've been around the game long enough to know it can hinder you, it just does," Pelini said.

This injury also is more severe, the coach said, than the toe/ankle problems that limited Martinez at the end of his freshman season, particularly at Texas A&M and in the Big 12 Championship against Oklahoma.

"One thing I know about Taylor is, if he can be out there, he'll be out there, but I want him to be 100 percent," Pelini said.

With another bye week, Martinez will have extra time to try to heal before Nebraska next takes the field at Minnesota on Oct. 26.

That will mark the six-week point since the quarterback, who previously started 32 consecutive games, last played against UCLA.

If he can't play, Pelini said he continues to feel good about his backups — freshman Tommy Armstrong and senior Ron Kellogg III.

Pelini praised Kellogg for playing "really well" against Purdue. And the coach still has strong belief in Armstrong, despite his passing struggles in that game — completing 6 of 18 passes with three interceptions.

"Last week (against Illinois) when Tommy played really well, I said, 'It's never as good as it looks on the surface and it's never as bad,' and I felt the same way coming out of this game," Pelini said.

If Martinez does not play, it seems Nebraska's rotating QB situation would continue for at least one more game.

"I think right now we go the same way we've been going," Pelini said of that hypothetical. "It's been working for us. We feel good about it."

Reach Brian Christopherson at bchristopherson@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. Follow him on Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.

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