Will Taylor Martinez play another snap at Nebraska?
Bo Pelini can’t say for sure yet, but Monday expressed doubt about the senior’s return to the field this season.
The coach said the quarterback continues to have various nagging injuries, but specifically it's Martinez’s left foot that might prohibit any return.
"I know one thing: There's no one that's more frustrated than Taylor," Pelini said. "It's a foot injury that we knew could linger and it really hasn't gotten much better. Obviously, I can't look into a crystal ball, but it's been tough on the kid, and I don't know if the chances are real good (of him playing again). It's not a good injury to have."
Martinez's father, Casey Martinez, told the Associated Press on Monday night that Taylor's injury, near the ball of his left foot, could take until February or March to fully heal.
"Taylor's injury happened in week one and after several months of rehab we have discovered that the more he does on it the worse that it gets," Casey Martinez wrote in an email to the AP. "Very, very unfortunate location and aggravating injury that can't be toughed out."
Nebraska went 29-14 in games started by Martinez, who has now sat out five games this season.
"It's a tough thing to have happen to you on your senior year," Pelini said.
Martinez did not make the trip to Michigan. The coach said it was a numbers issue with the travel roster and noted that Taylor's brother, Drake Martinez, had just had surgery.
"We weren't sure if anybody (injured) was going to go. ... We weren't sure if we were going to take Spencer (Long), who has a waiver, and Wil Richards, who has a waiver, and he didn't go. So I wouldn't read anything into that,” Pelini said.
"At the end of the day, especially as beat up as we are, we don't have the luxury of bringing a bunch of guys who can't possibly suit up.”
* NO FEAR: Michigan State has the top-ranked defense in the country, a defense Pelini very much respects.
But one of the things he likes about freshman quarterback Tommy Armstrong is that he’s not the type to be shaking in his cleats about facing the Spartans.
“Tommy Armstrong is not going to be intimidated. That much I know,” Pelini said. “He’s going to be challenged, I can tell you that. He’s going to be challenged because (Michigan State is) good. They execute well. They know what they want to do and they do it very well.”
Armstrong said he’s not intimidated because he treats every week like it’s a big game.
“They’re one of the best defenses in the country, but at the same time, they can be beat,” Armstrong said. “And our offense, when we’re clicking, we’re clicking. I don’t think anybody in this country can stop us when we’re doing our thing and when we’re going 100 percent and marching down the field.”
* MORE TO LEARN: Pelini praised sophomore defensive end Randy Gregory as being a very instinctive player who works his butt off.
But the road to being great will require even more attention to detail, according to the head coach.
“Let’s face it: At his stage in his development, there are a lot of things he hasn’t even begun to understand yet,” Pelini said. "I bet he’d be the first to tell you that he has a lot to work on to develop into being a complete player.”
If Gregory keeps ironing out those details?
“I’m not throwing him into (Ndamukong) Suh’s category yet, but I think he can have that type of impact on our program down the line,” Pelini said. “That’s when Suh became a better player. It wasn’t about the statistics or the sacks or anything else. When he really bought into the details and the little things, that allowed him to become the player that he was here when he finished up his career here.”
* INJURIES: While offensive guard Jake Cotton seems to be on a fair recovery pace from an MCL sprain injury, the prospects of him being ready for Saturday’s game still seem iffy at best.
Pelini said “anything is possible” regarding Cotton but, “if we were to play today, no, he wouldn’t play.”
Senior offensive tackle Jeremiah Sirles will also be out, though it seems he could have a chance to return at some point this season. He has the same injury as Cotton. “Not as much swelling as Jake probably had initially. That’s a good sign. The MRI is almost identical to what Jake dealt with,” Pelini said.
That means more mixing and matching on the Husker O-line. Once again, senior Andrew Rodriguez could see double duty this week.
“I think you’ll see him at guard. I think you’ll see him at tackle,” Pelini said. “You could see a lot of different combinations up there.”
* HONORS: After recording three sacks against Michigan, Gregory was named the Big Ten player of the week. Armstrong, who led Nebraska on a game-winning drive, was tabbed the league's freshman of the week.