Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez didn’t practice Tuesday in NU’s full-padded practice, walking off the field in his usual t-shirt/shorts combo as he suffers from a turf toe injury on his left foot. Though scheduled to speak after practice Tuesday, Martinez told a reporter he wouldn’t until he returns to practice, and was unsure whether he’d play in Saturday’s game against Illinois.
Offensive coordinator Tim Beck said the same of Martinez’s status.
“He’s got to be 100 percent,” Beck said. “He’s got to be able to do what we need him to do in a game.”
Said backup Tommy Armstrong: “Coach Beck told us to play it by ear. He doesn’t know what’s going to happen. Just prepare this week like we’re going to play. If Taylor plays, he plays. If he doesn’t, he doesn’t.”
Beck said Martinez “did some drills” and “ran around” earlier in practice before being iced down. NU’s been preparing Martinez for the Illinois game plan in case he does suit up and start. Beck wants Martinez to “get some live work in — or what I consider live work in the next two days” before he plays in a game.
“If he doesn’t get any work, it’d be highly unlikely,” Beck said. “Maybe as a security blanket — if we had to. If he’s healthy. He’s gotta be healthy. He’s gotta say he’s healthy, he’s gotta compete like he’s healthy and he’s gotta play like he’s healthy.”
How does Beck gauge that?
“You can tell,” Beck said. “I think all of you felt he wasn’t playing the way Taylor had played last year. He wasn’t doing things bad, he just wasn’t being Taylor, doing some of the things he normally did. You could tell, there were some things.”
In Martinez’s absence, Armstrong — the redshirt freshman who got his first career start against South Dakota State — and fifth-year Omaha Westside senior Ron Kellogg have continued to split reps with the No. 1 unit. Beck said he might use both quarterbacks if Martinez can’t play Saturday.
“If it helps us win, yes,” Beck said. “I think those guys are very compatible with each other. They do a good job. And I think it doesn’t really affect our team. It’s a tribute to playing two huddles and running fast.”
Armstrong — who did talk to the press Tuesday night for more than 20 minutes — said he’s fine with a rotation.
“It’s not a challenge,” Armstrong said. “We were both ready. When our number was called, we capitalized … it was the same thing we did during practice. We’re used to it.”
A few more quick hits:
>> Safety Charles Jackson said he’s getting more reps in practice, though not necessarily with the No. 1 units.
>> Still no new Blackshirts have been handed out by coaches since the initial surge of them just before the season began. Defensive end Randy Gregory said he’s been looking for one, but knows he has to earn it.
>> Running back Ameer Abdullah worked for a half-hour after practice on ball security by running with the ball in a high-and-tight position for the length of the field inside Hawks Championship Center.
>> Safety Harvey Jackson stayed late working on coverage routes.