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  • The Most Popular Guy on the Team

    Frankie London.
    Eric Crouch.
    Bobby Newcombe.
    Tommie Frazier.
    Mike Stuntz.
    Joe Dailey.
    Turner Gill.
    Joe Ganz.
    Cody Green.
    Brion Carnes.

    What do all of the above have in common? At one point in their career, they were the most popular player in the state: Nebraska's backup quarterback.

    After his impressive debut in Nebraska's 59-20 romp over South Dakota State, we added a new name to this storied list: Tommy Armstrong, Jr.. Time will tell if he follows the career path of Frazier, Crouch, and Gill or that of London, Stuntz, or Carnes.

    To hear and read the collective opinions of our fans, Tommy Armstrong is destined to be a four-year starter, whose many talents will lead Nebraska back to glory. Some have noted the similarities in circumstances with Tommy Armstrong's first starts and those of Tommie Frazier and see a similar career path.

    While some of the shine came off the Armstrong apple with his ugly performance at Purdue (6-18, 43 yards, 3 INT), many Husker fans are still very high on him. And with good reason - Armstrong has lots of talent, athleticism, and potential. But is he the clear choice to lead this team forward?

    Martinez's injured toe has healed enough that he will take some snaps against Minnesota. A fully healthy Martinez is, in my opinion, the clear and obvious choice. Heck, Martinez at 80% health may prove to be better for the offense than Armstrong. Ron Kellogg III might channel some of the career backup magic that his position coach Joe Ganz had, and take control of the starting job. We just don't know.

    Let me be clear: I mean no disrespect to Armstrong - from what I have seen, I've been impressed with his talent, and am very optimistic about his future. I am just cautious about going all-in on a redshirt freshman who has not faced an opponent more talented than Illinois. After so many years of hearing the recruitniks hype up every QB to step on campus, as well as the general fan obsession with the #2 QB, I'm a little leery of diving head first into Armstrong Mania.

    The view from the backup QB pedestal

    Consider two case studies from the Pelini era:

    Cody Green was a much-hyped recruit, and fans wanted him to be the starting QB as soon as he got on campus. He had a very unspectacular career at NU and transferred out.

    Joe Ganz was a rather unheralded recruit, and despite the struggles of Sam Keller, not too many fans were clamoring for Ganz to start - until theoffense started lighting up the scoreboard and record book under his leadership.

    I'll say it again so I'm clear: I hope Tommy Armstrong is successful - just like I hope every Nebraska player is successful. By and large, I am supportive of any player who I feel can help Nebraska win....

    Which leads us to Taylor Martinez.

    I just don't understand the reaction I've seen from some of our fans. Many were thrilled that somebody else was starting the last three games. They were happy that he was hurt. They hope he never sees the field again. They truly believe that Nebraska's best chance to win the division and conference title is with a redshirt freshman instead of a four year starter.

    I know that many people within the fan base have issues with Martinez - both factual (he led the nation in fumbles) and emotional (he "quit" on the team following that A&M game). But that does not mean we should take joy in his pain, or disparage a player who has done a lot of good things at Nebraska.

    I get it: some fans will never like or appreciate Taylor. Heck, if you read some of my previous work, you'll notice that I've been rather critical of him over the years as well. But my criticism is usually constructive and never personal. And I feel that I recognize the good things he does and the growth he's made. I don't think many of his bashers can say that.

    Has he improved over his four seasons? Absolutely, and without a doubt.

    Is he an NFL-caliber quarterback? Heavens no. (Of course, no NU quarterback has been NFL worthy since Brook Berringer passed away, but that's another topic for another day).

    But there is a difference between pointing out the things a person does not do well, and being rude and disrespectful. Saying I use too many run-on sentences and love bullet points too much is constructive (and honest). Saying that I suck, don't know what I'm talking about, and would be easily replaced by a drunken chimpanzee with a keyboard is rude (and insulting to the chimp).

    What's my point with all of this? I guess if I could have you take away anything from this rant, it would be that you can be excited for Armstrong's potential without tearing down another Husker.

    *Author's note: The original framework of this post was started back in 2011 after Nebraska lost at Wisconsin, sparking calls from fans, message boards, and the media that it was time to bench Martinez in favor of Brion Carnes.

    It just goes to show that some things never change.

    Dave Feit is a freelance writer living in Lincoln. Additional thoughts on the Huskers (and everything else) can be found on his blog ( Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

    Comments 8 Comments
    1. cthusker's Avatar
      cthusker -
      T-Mart is a finished product imo! WYSIWYG... nothing more...... nothing less! Biggest problem I have with T-Mart is all those drive killing and game changing fumbles...... Those CAN NOT easily be swept under the carpet. Start taking care of the football and I'll be a much bigger T-Mart fan. Until that happens what you gain with him is taken away with his terrible ball security............ We'll just have to see what he does moving forward in the next several games!
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      Totally agree with this rant, I get pretty p.o.ed about all the personal attacks on TM, a college kid. I get that he is our starting QB and is thus subject to rightful scrutiny for bad decisions, turnovers, etc. But some out there are pretty ruthless towards him after he's given his heart, soul and body to this program. I really hope he comes back strong, takes us to the B1G title game and goes out a winner. A little comeuppence for all his detractors that claim to be fans of the program but bash our own players and coaches.
    1. Paramus's Avatar
      Paramus -
      As a RS freshman TM replaced a returning starter (Zac Lee). Tommy Armstrong is a RS Freshman, too. If he is our best guy right now, he should replace the returning starter as well.

      Best player plays. Wouldn't you agree?

      You seem to be convinced that TM is our best QB. I am not convinced.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      I have gone back and forth on my opinion of Martinez over the last four years. Yes, his turnovers are maddening. But he has engineered a number of come from behind victories as well. Martinez is no Tommie Frazier, he is also not a scrub. TM has the experience and I believe he is the Huskers best chance to achieve their goals this year. I think it is a good thing we were able to get TA and RK so many reps this year. I think the future is bright, and this year as well. I think TM can come through this year. I realize some of that is wishful thinking. I do believe that TM tends to struggle under pressure in big games. That is his weakness. He is not a great quarterback, but he is much better than a good QB, on athletic ability alone. We all know that greatness at this level is more mental than physical. I must agree with the author that it does no good to tear down our QB or any player for that matter. I look forward to the remainder of the season and Go Big Red!
    1. Luke's Avatar
      Luke -
      I think people need to realize te coaches an players want to win worse than anyone and they know who gives them the best chance. There is a reason why Taylor is starting when he's healthy. Sidles was very clear in his press conference about the advantage of Taylor. Stop being fair weather fans/arm chair coaches and trust the REAL coaching staff. Their jobs depend on the QB performance--putting the backup in because some fans who can't realize that players make mistakes and are human is bogus. Tommy is goin to be great "in the future", as Pelini and Beck said, but he hasn't played in a game that was even close to tough yet. Taylor's lost some tough ones, but also engineered some great comebacks and games. We had yet to see Tommy come through in situations like that yet and I'm sure e will someday, but until then shut up, support, and be a REAL Husker fan. Let's not turn into every other school in the country where crying and moaning is the norm.
    1. bugaha's Avatar
      bugaha -
      I agree with you Dave about fans bad mouthing TMart. And the list of backup qbs. I'm an old fart that remembers Tagge/Van Brownson and how Bob Devaney played them. We should be thankful to have good backups. And if TMart is having a bad game, what's so wrong with putting in Tommy Armstrong or Ron Kellogg? Also fans letting out their vitriol on you is just fans blowing off steam. Columnists are also on point. Good article imo.
    1. WA Husker's Avatar
      WA Husker -
      No worry about running up the score today.
    1. derrick's Avatar
      derrick -
      not real impressed with Armstrong with his play the last 3 games. watch Stanton beat him out next year and be the next starter
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