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Why Is Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez More Maligned Than Loved?

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 01: Taylor Martinez #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers stretches for a third quarter touchdown during the Big 10 Conference Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 1, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Wisconsin won the game 70-31. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Michael FelderNational CFB Lead WriterApril 3, 2013

Probably for things like this:

Or perhaps instances such as this one:

Thus, despite Nebraska having a 27-12 record with Taylor Martinez in the lineup, more folks are pointing at what he does wrong than what he does right. Especially given the strides that he made in his third year at Nebraska.

Yes, his interceptions went up in 2012, but so too did his attempts and completion percentage. Truth be told, Martinez grew into a legitimate quarterback in 2012, and yet, all folks can remember are the bad days.

During the 2010 and 2011 seasons, the Huskers lost games because of young Taylor Martinez. Their offense was stagnant and could not produce points. In losses in 2010, Nebraska averaged just 11.5 points per game. In 2011 losses, the offense only put up 18 points, topping 20 just once in a loss to Northwestern.

2012 was a different story. While eight of his 12 interceptions came in losses, the Cornhuskers also averaged 32.5 points in those games. They put points up on the board and certainly scored enough, at least in theory, to win.

Unfortunately, theory doesn't hold true when the defense is giving up 36, 45, 63 or 70 points in a ballgame. That is on the Black Shirts, a unit that has gotten progressively worse since 2009. A unit that, with its performances in some big spots, likely cost the Cornhuskers a few wins in their 2012 campaign.

And that cost Taylor Martinez some of the praise he deserves.

After all, it is not every day that a kid throws for 2,800 yards, 23 touchdowns, runs for another 1,000 and scores 10 more touchdowns and is merely an afterthought on the collegiate radar. 

Martinez had more passing yards, a better completion percentage and more touchdowns than Braxton Miller. His team just did not go undefeated the way the Buckeyes did. The coaches recognized it, giving Martinez the nod over Miller on the All-Big Ten team. However, the media, like most fans, pushed Miller over Martinez, the guy whose team gave up 70 and 63 in Big Ten games.

Entering 2013, Martinez is firmly behind the likes of Johnny Manziel, Braxton Miller and Aaron Murray where quarterbacks are concerned. He's also behind Teddy Bridgewater,  Tajh Boyd and AJ McCarron by a slimmer margin.

Martinez is a player that has improved every year he's been at Nebraska, and going into his fourth year as the starter, expectations should be high. This is a team that can compete for a Big Ten Championship, which would go a long way towards cementing his legacy as something more than arm punts and weird throwing motions.

However, it's going to take a defense to reach that mountaintop and that is something that, regardless of improvement, Martinez cannot control.

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