As you probably know by now, Wisconsin defensive end David Gilbert skewered Taylor Martinez last night. Typically, bulletin board material comes in the form of a sentence, maybe two. Gilbert just kept going.
“The one game he didn’t play very well in they lost to UCLA. You’ve got to look at who they’ve played. You’ve got to look at who they’ve played. We’re definitely going to bring it. It’s Big Ten season. All that is out the window and it really doesn’t matter. All that matters is we’ve got to line up and we’ve got to hit him.”
“It still looks like he’s skipping rocks out there to me. But that’s not my concern. That’s probably more a concern of the defensive backs. My concern is hitting him. I don’t care what he throws like. I’m not trying to let him throw at all.
“He still can’t throw. I’m just going to say it. He still can’t throw. He’s not going to beat us with his arm.”
Here’s 10 takes on the best pre-game trash talk I can remember since Steve Taylor went off on Oklahoma in 1987.
1 — Should Wisconsin really be mouthing off? Didn’t Wisconsin almost lose to Northern Iowa, Utah State and UTEP? You know how many sacks Gilbert has in four games? One.
2 — Gilbert is wrong on one point. Martinez has indeed improved. Just as important: his receivers have improved dramatically. I’m not sure the Badger secondary has the wheels to keep up with Kenny Bell and Co.
3 — Remember, there’s a reason Wisconsin is so confident regarding Martinez. Taylor played his worst game of the season in Madison last year. He threw three interceptions in a span of four possessions. And the Badgers befuddled him by sitting back in a zone and daring him to pick them apart. You’ll see more of that zone Saturday night.
4 — You gotta admit, “skipping rocks” is pretty funny. Credit Gilbert for creativity.
5 — If you know anything about Bret Bielema, Gilbert’s comments aren’t a huge surprise. Bielema consistently walks the line between confident and arrogant. As a journalist, I like it. And I think Gilbert’s words are partly a reflection of his coach’s personality.
6 — Why don’t we see good bulletin board material anymore? I miss it. What’s the harm in sounding off? I don’t buy this idea that you’ll motivate your opponent. Sometimes, maybe. But in other cases, you can distract your opponent — or at least raise doubts in his head.
7 — Will Martinez play better or worse because of these comments? It’s possible he’ll try too hard to prove Gilbert wrong, playing right into Wisconsin’s hands. I think, if anyone, it motivates Nebraska’s offensive line to keep Martinez clean.
8 — There’s someone else it motivates. The crowd at Memorial Stadium. This was gonna be a big game anyway. But with alternate uniforms and Tom Osborne’s announcement and a national TV audience and now this, well, it’s bound to be a little crazy Saturday night.
9 — I would love to know how exactly Martinez learns about these comments. Twitter? Facebook? A stranger in class? A coach? Hopefully we’ll find out after the game.
10 — Gilbert’s words put Husker fans in the unfamiliar position of defending Taylor Martinez’s throwing motion. Weird. “It’s OK if we make fun of him, but you can’t!”
>> Harvey Perlman surprised me when he twice said Wednesday that Nebraskans don’t fully appreciate what Tom Osborne represents.
“A walk that would take five minutes usually takes him 20 because of all the people that want his autograph or to say hello,” Perlman said. “I think we probably don’t recognize in Nebraska the extraordinary respect that he’s held nationally not just in intercollegiate athletics, but in other venues as well.”
“When Tom Osborne walks into a room, he represents something,” Perlman said. “It’s not just three national champions. That’s what people in Nebraska don’t understand … It’s the sustainability of excellence over a long period of time. It’s integrity.”
I disagree with Harvey. I think Osborne’s integrity — not his record — is precisely why he’s so revered in Nebraska. I’ll have much more on Osborne in Friday’s Chatter.
>> Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.com explores the issues plaguing the Big Ten. He even interviews Jim Delany. To Delany’s credit, he doesn’t hide from reality, nor does he suggest it’s a quick fix. I’ll say this: Delany privately must be putting a lot of stock in Urban Meyer. Ohio State can change the league’s national perception, starting next year.
>> How’s this for an interesting nugget (from the ESPN story): “The Big Ten … hasn’t had a quarterback taken in the first round of the NFL draft since Penn State’s Kerry Collins in 1995.” That is nothing short of jaw-dropping.
>> Nebraska or Wisconsin? Who do you think the Big Ten is rooting for? My first instinct is Wisconsin, because if the Badgers fall apart, then Purdue is left to wave the flag for the Leaders Division. The Big Ten, in that scenario, may send an 8-4 or 7-5 team to Indianapolis. Yikes.
But I believe that Nebraska, unlike most Big Ten teams, actually has a chance to be good this year. To rise to a Top-10 level and give the Big Ten national credibility. Sure, the Huskers lost to UCLA. But they also have enough offensive talent to impress casual fans around the country. For that reason, I think it’s better for the Big Ten if Nebraska gets hot.
>> Montee Ball should not be playing Saturday, Steve Greenberg writes.
>> Pat Forde’s weekly college football column is always must-read. Especially when he examines the best and worst values in the game. Kirk Ferentz is featured prominently.
>> Bruce Feldman’s weekly top 10 focuses on the season’s biggest surprises.
>> Roy Helu is out for season with turf toe. Dang. The concern with Helu has always been his health. I’m not sure he’s durable enough to have a long NFL career.
>> Texas A&M is expanding its stadium to more than 100,000. Sorry, Aggies. That won’t help you win in the SEC.
>> Doug McDermott talks to ESPN.
>> Finally, a Creighton reunion in Atlanta: Kyle Korver and Anthony Tolliver are both Hawks. I was lucky enough to moderate a discussion at the FCA Cornerstone Celebration last year. Tolliver and Korver were both panelists, along with Ryan Sears and Josh Dotzler. They’re as thoughtful and articulate as any athletes I’ve ever been around.
I was a big Hawks fan growing up. I loved Dominique Wilkins — he should’ve been a Dream Teamer and he should’ve won the 1988 Slam Dunk Contest! Tolliver and Korver don’t jump like the Human Highlight Film, but they’re a good reason to start following the Hawks again.