That's right, I'm not afraid of redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez. Now, before your faces turn as red as a Nebraska home jersey, Husker fans, hear me out.
No, it's not that I think Martinez is overrated (he's not), or that he's fragile (looks tough to me), or that I think he will melt under pressure (looks as ice-cold as a January wind blowing across the plains).
No, it's not because I come from the Emmanuel Acho school of opponent preparation, where Martinez is just "another quarterback" and "nothing that we should be too worried about."
Like I said, hear me out, Huskers.
Let's take a step back into time to the Texas Tech game, back when the Longhorns were still undefeated (feels like a lifetime ago). Mack Brown spent the week after the game chiding Texas fans for not thoroughly enjoying a win on the road in Lubbock. Fair enough Mack, everyone knows it's a tough place to win and having become a Texas fan in the fall of 2002, my first experience watching the 'Horns play on the South Plains was undeniably traumatic. Traumatic enough to never underestimate even a mediocre Tech team, as the 2010 version turned out to be.
During that game, as the Longhorns worked to commit enough stupid penalties and mistakes to give Tech a chance to win and the offense looked every bit the absolute piece of junk it has since shown itself to be, something within me died. Expectations, perhaps. More likely belief. Something tangible, leaving a tangible void.
My friend with whom I was texting at the time criticized me for it, essentially calling me a fairweather fan and other such names for bailing on a team that was winning. What all the other unhappy Texas fans knew at the time, however, was that this was an undisciplined, leaderless football team receiving poor coaching. They knew that the next few weeks had immense potential to absolutely crush the season and send Longhorn fans to a place they hadn't been in three seasons -- to the fringes of the college football world, outside the spotlight. They didn't know everything would come crashing down the following week. At home. Against a team that got blown out not only by Stanford, but also by an average Kansas State squad.
All this is a long way of building up to the real point here -- I'm not afraid of Taylor Martinez because my expectations for this season, unclear though they may have been, fell to pieces. Dropped down to nothing or something extremely close. I'm not afraid because deep down where it really matters, the depth of my sports fan soul that only the best teams can reach, those teams that absolutely earn unmitigated, unreserved belief, the 2010 Texas Longhorns can't touch me.
Instead, my fear is that the coaches still won't get it on offense. That Greg Davis will open up with another sideways pass in a misguided attempt to wear out the Nebraska offense. That Davis will get the newly (sorta) healthy Mike Davis killed on a short pass by a Nebraska defensive back impersonating a missile coming downhill. That Davis still won't trust Garrett Gilbert enough to let him throw downfield or across the middle. That there will be more checkdown completions to the tight ends on third and long. That an athletic, well-prepared Nebraska defense will again shut down the Texas passing game, as they did last December in the Big 12 Championship Game. That DJ Monroe will again languish on the bench. That there will be more excuses after the game about why he didn't play.
In a normal season, a quarterback with the ability of Taylor Martinez would absolutely terrify me, give me nightmares. Obviously, this isn't a normal season.
So instead of fearing Martinez, I will hope for the best from the Texas defense, but mostly I will appreciate a sensational quarterback who has taken the college football world by storm. I will appreciate the offensive coaching staff of the Huskers, the group that in a few short months turned a terrible, plodding offense into one of the most dangerous units in the entire country. I will appreciate the beauty of option football and a dangerous running quarterback, silently (or perhaps not so silently) cursing the Texas coaching staff for moving away from having a dual threat behind center. I will watch the likely missed assignments, indecision at the point of attack, and the inevitable touchdown allowed by a poor angle from Blake Gideon with a detachment, the viewpoint of an adherent to the spread option philosophy. I will wait for the inevitable big play(s). I will prepare for Klein Forest QB Matt Davis not to receive an offer in February.
And if the Longhorns somehow manage to reverse nearly every trend established so far this season and send Nebraska fans to a desolate place of the soul all too familiar to the burnt orange faithful these past few weeks, well, then, I'll just have to marvel at the miracle.