Quick hits from Nebraska’s Tuesday, full-padded practice, in which the Huskers continued prep for Purdue.
>> Quarterback Taylor Martinez wore a boot again on his left foot — where he’s suffering from a turf toe injury — and did not practice. Offensive coordinator Tim Beck didn’t offer any updated status since, at this point, it’s clear that if Martinez doesn’t practice, he won’t play Saturday. Martinez declined comment as he walked off the field.
After the main throng of reporters had left Beck, the OC said he had intended to pare down the offense in the wake of the UCLA game (a 41-21 loss) regardless of Martinez’s health — because he thought Martinez would play against South Dakota State.
“I knew he was hurting after UCLA, but by Wednesday I figured he’d be practicing and we’d get him back,” Beck said. “The plan to pare it down was the plan to pare it down. It just so happens Tommy took over. The plays we ran probably would have been the same with Taylor.”
>> If Martinez can’t play, Beck continues to prefer playing both redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong — who has started the last two games — and fifth-year Omaha Westside senior Ron Kellogg. In wins over South Dakota State and Illinois, Armstrong played the first two series — leading NU to touchdowns on all four drives over two games — while Kellogg got the third series in each game.
“You never know who’s got the hot hand,” Beck said. “You never know what the game’s going to turn into.”
Since Armstrong and Kellogg don’t have much game experience between them, Beck said it’s important that both continue to get game reps in case one of them gets hurt while Martinez is injured.
The reps continue to be split as evenly as possible in practice. Beck said he challenged Armstrong Tuesday.
“I coached him pretty hard today,” Beck said. “I had to put my arm around him at the end of practice just knowing he’s that kind of guy.”
>> Purdue’s defense — ranked 79th nationally — is “faster and more aggressive” than Illinois’ defense, Beck intimated.
“They play hard,” Beck said. “They run to the football. They tackle well. They hit. It’s hard to believe they’re 1-4 or whatever they are.”
>> Slot receiver Jamal Turner did not practice. He pulled a hamstring in the Illinois game. Josh Mitchell — who left the Illinois game with an ankle injury — and Zaire Anderson, who sat out the game with a bone bruise, both practiced.
>> On the other side of the ball, look for the Boilermakers to run an offense that allows NU defense to play its 4-3 base. Buck linebacker Jared Afalava, who had his most extensive action of the season against Illinois, said he expects to play “a good bunch” against Purdue. Afalava didn’t have the best day in practice staying disciplined with his eyes, he said, and coach Bo Pelini’s “trying to get me right.”
“He wants me to read my keys, transfer my eyes to the right places,” Afalava said. “I gotta be looking at the right place before the snap and once the ball snaps, if (the key) doesn’t do this or that, I gotta transfer my eyes. I wasn’t reading the right things.”