Monday, October 08, 2012

Nebraska Football: Armstrong at QB

Dear Coach Pelini,

Just what you want, a fan suggesting a change. But you have said that you’re not sure what to do about the state of the team’s play.

That’s troubling. You’re making top-tier money and NU charges fans top-tier prices for tickets and other contributions necessary to retain tickets. Fans block out a day for a home game and a weekend for a road game. The product being put on the field is not worthy of the commitments of time and money that fans make and the loyalty they demonstrate, yet the coach says he doesn’t know what to do.

I have no suggestions about the defense and special teams. We should have the best defensive talent on the planet after the buzz created by Suh and the 2009 season, but obviously we don’t.

I have a suggestion about the offense.

Tom Osborne did something in 1992 that put NU football in position to make a historic run. He put the keys to the offense in the hands of a true freshman named Tommie Frazier.

You made a similar bold move by giving Taylor Martinez the keys to the offense in 2010. The fact that it hasn’t turned out well doesn’t mean you were wrong to try it, but it's not working.

Martinez is a great football player, but he is not a quarterback. He’s making the same kind of mistakes he made as a redshirt freshman. You are trying to jam a square peg into a round hole by playing him at quarterback.

Put him at receiver and get the ball in his hands. Let him return kicks. Let him run some plays at quarterback in a wildcat or diamond formation. But don’t make him think and read defenses and manage the offense and worry about sliding when he’s running.

Kansas moved Kerry Meier from quarterback to receiver and turned him into an NFL draft choice. Martinez is much more talented than Meier was. Just let Martinez loose to be the phenomenal player that he is.

It’s time for another bold move at quarterback: Tommy Armstrong.

I imagine the range of plays would have to be restricted for Armstrong. That’s OK. As a fan, I’d rather see NU run a dozen plays really well without penalties or turnovers.

It was clear after the UCLA game that Martinez was still a jittery and panicky quarterback under pressure. I was hoping you would use Arkansas State and Idaho State to get Armstrong ready for Big 10 play.

Now you have two weeks of practice and a challenging but winnable road test at Northwestern before Michigan comes calling, followed by a trip to Michigan State. Use this opportunity to get Armstrong ready, or as ready as he can be.

I’m not saying Armstrong is another Frazier. I’m saying we need to get off the Martinez roller coaster before a third consecutive season careens into the ditch of four losses, with embarrassing performances against good teams.

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