Nebraska might have to play its Big Ten opener without its senior starting quarterback.
Bo Pelini told reporters Monday that "we'll see" if Taylor Martinez will be ready to play when the Huskers host Illinois Saturday. Martinez missed Nebraska's last game, a 59-20 win over FCS South Dakota State, after struggling with turf toe.
Pelini said he did not know if the injury would allow Martinez to practice Tuesday or not.
"I think he's getting closer to being 100 percent," Pelini said, per the Associated Press. "I think he's feeling better. We'll see as the week progresses."
Pelini said redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong Jr. would likely receive his second straight start in the event Martinez was unable to play. Armstrong threw for 169 yards and ran for 38 against the Jackrabbits, with senior Ron Kellogg III going 8-of-9 for 36 yards. Pelini suggested that after the SDSU win, both quaterbacks could see time against Illinois if Martinez was unavailable.
"I feel even better than I did before, and that was pretty good," Pelini said. "I have a lot of confidence in those guys. I know we'll play around them, too."
Though Martinez's numbers are as efficient as ever -- for the season, the 2012 Big Ten leader in quarterback rating has completed 66 percent of his attempts with a 9-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio -- he struggled against UCLA in has last outing, averaging just 5.8 yards per attempt and rushing for -13 yards.
That number represented his worst rushing performance since the 2010 Big 12 Championship game, and sparked rumors that Martinez was more banged-up than believed pregame. Those rumors proved to be at least somewhat true -- and Martinez's performance suggests that if he's not 100 percent or very close to it, Pelini might be well-advised to give him another week of rest.