1) For 3 years, Taylor Martinez has been one of the most exciting players in college football, both for the Cornhuskers and for their opponents. How has he grown in what is now his 4th year in the program? What makes him so dangerous for opponents, as well as for his own team? He is obviously a significant running threat (and Georgia's defenses have long had difficulty stopping dual threat signal callers), but this year he has made numerous plays with his arm too. Has he learned to use his legs not just to run, but to create yards downfield in the passing game? And how do you defend him as an opposing defense aside from hoping he stops himself?
David McGee: Martinez is a phenomenal athlete. That's what makes him so dangerous for his opponents. He also unwaveringly trusts his ability. That's what makes him so dangerous to his team. When he makes good decisions and can get into the open field, he's as good as there is in college football. When he's making poor decisions and getting careless with his ball security, he'll fill up emergency rooms all over the state of Nebraska with heart attack patients.
Martinez will always have his critics. He doesn't do things conventionally and he looks awkward in doing it. He's racked up yards vs. the good teams and the bad teams, generally. And the reality is that he will end up as the most prolific offensive producer in school history. If he doesn't win a title, he'll never get the recognition he probably deserves. There is a segment of the fanbase that doesn't want the guy under center.
Martinez spent a lot of time working on his passing game over the summer and it paid immediate dividends. At times he'll lose track of those mechanics and we'll see the Taylor Martinez that so many loved to poke fun at the past couple of years. A couple of other factors play into the improvement. First is that he's been in the system for a second season. Between high school, his redshirt season and his freshman season he never was in a system for more than a season. Having that consistency has made him more confident in the offense and has made his decision making more clear. He knows who's supposed to be where and has matured as a decision maker and leader. The second factor is that he has a lot of weapons at the skill positions. The receivers and running backs are a versatile group that give Martinez a lot of options. It's arguably the most talented group of skill players in the Big Ten and can compete with about any team in the country.
Husker Mike: Against Northwestern, Martinez had several scrambles to keep plays alive...but it was his teammates who dropped the ball or got called for unnecessary penalties. He's Nebraska's offensive MVP for a reason. His major problem is ball security when he's carrying the ball; he's trying to improve and secure the ball, but for whatever reason, the ball can come squirting free. But go for the strip at your own risk; he's capable of making any defense look silly with his legs and his arms.
Jon Johnston: That's "Dr. Jon" for now. I believe Mr. Martinez has an undiagnosed form of autism, which could be described as "Tourette's of the Mind". Under normal circumstances, every day life, his mind is completely normal. However, something changes when taking the field of play. When placed under pressure, his mind will repeatedly scream "RUN" or "PASS" without his control and he has had no choice but to respond, after all, who can deny themselves?
Over the past year, he has done much better of understanding his malady and controlling his responses, but at times, he reverts to his former self. At that point, you don't know what he's going to do, the opponents don't know what he's going to do, his own coaches don't know, and neither does he. That, in a nutshell, is what makes Taylor Martinez so dangerous.
2) How excited is the fanbase for this game? For Georgia, it's almost a "meh" feeling, after coming so close to a national championship appearance, and now just another bowl game against a Big 10 team. Does Nebraska have a similar lack of excitement for a repeat of trip to Orlando against an SEC squad?
DM: The Nebraska fanbase feels a bit terrified about what might happen in Orlando. The wound is still fresh from the Big Ten title game and they've had to suffer through it many times over the past years. I think a lot of them will be watching with their hands over their eyes, peeking on occasion to see if it's safe to come out. They're expecting the worst. If Georgia fans are ambivalent to this game and Husker fans are petrified, that'll make for an exciting atmosphere, I'm sure.
Husker Mike: Some people are terrified, some are curiously optimistic because they see a matchup that could favor Nebraska in spots. Aaron Murray is not a mobile quarterback, and there are offensive line concerns that our pass rush might be able to exploit. On the other hand, the two-headed freshman monster of Gurley and Marshall could be a fatal combination if both are in the game at the same time. And since nobody expects Nebraska can win, you never know. It probably comes down to motivation of the two teams. Georgia could be on South Beach right now; Nebraska wanted to be in Pasadena. Which team is going to feel sorry for themselves, and which one wants to make someone pay for what happened in the championship games.
Fans are ambivalent to the trip to Orlando though. Orlando is an expensive place to fly to over the holidays, and many went last year. No doubt Georgia fans will outnumber Husker fans, if only because it's possible to drive home after the game. $100 in gas money is a heck of a lot cheaper than $400+ a person airfare.
Jon J: If I had to describe my feelings toward it, I'd cover my head with my hands and scream "PLEASE DON'T HIT ME ANY MORE!!!!!". But, being male, I hide my true feelings from others, preferring instead to say to people, "These are the two most disappointed teams in the nation playing each other and we'll just have to wait and see what happens....".
Then when I get home, I go into the bathroom and weep silently. Again.
Sanchez to close: We hope you are now better informed about the Cornhuskers. Kyle will have his Too Much Information up soon (linked here), and you can become excessively knowledgeable about our bowl opponent, and able to impress all your friends at New Year's Eve/Day parties.