As I sat in the stands at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Thursday night I couldn't help but stare on in amazement as Taylor Martinez shredded the Kansas State defense as if he was running against air. Granted the Wildcats might not have the stingiest defense in the conference, but they were a solid opponent who was going to do anything they possibly could to send the Huskers home with their first loss. As I watched Taylor work his magic, I couldn't help but wonder, could Husker Nation have a potential Heisman winner on their hands?
Now before anyone laughs at such a notion, I know it's a long shot. But if Martinez can continue to put up such impressive statistics, I don't see how it can't be at least a possibility. Let's face the facts, the Heisman trophy doesn't always go to the best player in the country. Heck you could make the case it rarely does. Who it does usually go to is the most explosive player in the national title game, or at the very least a national title contender, and so far Nebraska appears to be just that.
For several weeks now, Martinez's play has been compared to that of Eric Crouch. Back in 2001, Crouch was awarded the Heisman trophy, mainly due to his very strong rushing stats. That season Crouch rushed for 1,115 yards for 5.5 yards per carry and 18 touchdowns.
Fast forward to 2010 and Taylor Martinez in on pace to absolutely destroy those numbers. If the freshman can somehow keep his 147.4 yards per game average, he'll eclipse 2,000 yards by seasons end (including the Big 12 Championship and bowl game). The freshman is also on pace to score about 34 touchdowns on the ground this season, 16 more than Crouch's senior season. I do have to note though that Crouch played in 12 games, where as Martinez will more than likely be in 14. Thus far Martinez is also averaging 6.2 more passing yards per game more than Crouch.
Some might make the argument that Crouch's award with more career driven, rather than just what he did his senior year. Hard to argue that point, but then again who needs career stats if Martinez racks up nearly 700 more yards on the ground?
I know keeping that high average will be an extremely tough task for the California native, but looking at the Big 12 defenses, I don't see how anyone can say it's not possible. I'd be fairly surprised if Taylor is able to gather that many yards against the likes of Texas or potentially Oklahoma, but looking at the rest of the schedule, who would be surprised to see him rack up 150+ against Missouri, Texas A&M, Kansas, Iowa State, Colorado or Oklahoma State; I certainly wouldn't.
There's also the South Dakota State argument. By that I mean there's already fans out there criticizing his lackluster performance in that game and saying you can't have let down games if you want to be in the Heisman mix. Really? Let's look at some of the game stats from last year's Heisman winner Mark Ingram.
Ingram had some absolutely outstanding games last year as a sophomore including 246 yards against South Carolina, 172 against Ole Miss and 150 against Virginia Tech. On the other hand, Ingram had games that weren't exactly dominant. In match ups against Arkansas (50) and Auburn (30), Ingram tallied just 80 yards for a 2.4 yards per carry average. It just goes to show that a few down games can be completely over shadowed by the astounding ones.
Like I mentioned before, the biggest question whether or not Martinez can keep this up, and I think. Teams can adjust and game plan all they want, but Nebraska has a strong offensive line in place and a three-headed rushing attack that will make it nearly impossible for team's to key just on Martinez.
Do I think Martinez will the Heisman? No I don't. I do however think the college football world is becoming enamored with the young man's play which will only help him in his push to become the second straight Husker invited to New York in December. I have to give his offensive line a lot of credit, but one could also say Martinez also makes the line look good by just how quickly he's able to hit every hole. Whether the hole is big or small, Martinez finds it and the magic takes place. There's still a lot of season left to play, but Martinez shows no signs of stopping.