LINCOLN – A basic football truth exists that fans always love the backup quarterback.
When it comes to Nebraska, however, even the starting quarterback feels fond about the guy sitting right behind him on the depth chart.
Taylor Martinez became his backup’s biggest cheerleader Saturday when Ron Kellogg III made his unofficial introduction of himself to Husker Nation in Nebraska’ 73-7 blowout of Idaho State at Memorial Stadium.
Kellogg first took the field in the second quarter with the game already in hand and proceeded to complete 3 of 5 passes for 19 yards with one touchdown and one interception. It was the first time Kellogg had attempted a pass as a Husker.
“He’s put in a lot of work,” said Martinez, who himself went 9-for-13 for 165 yards and two touchdowns after misfiring on his first three passes of the game. “I’m really good friends with him, and he’s a great person on and off the field.
“I’m also happy that he could get in there and throw and ball and that he threw the touchdown. I can’t believe he actually threw the touchdown.”
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini indicated that Kellogg’s performance showed why he is comfortable with the junior from Omaha Westside serving as Martinez’s backup.
“I feel fine with the position,” Pelini said. “I think the interception Ron threw was a much the receiver’s fault as it was his. He needed to flatten that (route) out. I have confidence in (Kellogg). He has a really good handle on the offense.
“Unfortunately, you get into a game like this and we didn’t really let him run the full gamut of the offense and do what he’s capable of doing. That’s why we tried to get him in there in the second quarter because as the game went on we were going to limit the playbook. But I have a lot of confidence in Ron and what he can do.”
For Kellogg, getting game time is invaluable.
“I thought it was pretty important, just for a backup standpoint,” he said. “I did a lot of mental reps during the first three games. But to go out there and actually throw out a couple of passes kind of helped my confidence a little bit.”
The low point of the game for Kellogg was the interception.
“It was just a bad read on my part,” he said. “I told coach (Tim) Beck I was sorry afterwards. It was something I’ve got to work on on film.”
But Kellogg’s face lights up with a wide smile when talking about his 5-yard touchdown pass to Steven Osborne.
“There were so many emotions that I can’t even explain because we’ll be here for an hour,” he said. “It was so much fun being able to get the ball to Steve and celebrate with my teammates.”
It was a touchdown that Martinez predicted from the sidelines.
“I knew when the play call was in,” Martinez said. “I started clapping on the side because I knew it was going to be a touchdown. I couldn’t be more excited.”
Kellogg swung his arm and pumped his fist after the score, but apparently that is an area he still needs to work on.
“Coach Beck teased me because he said my celebration was a little lame,” Kellogg said. “I’ll just keep it. It’s a memory for myself. My mom and brother and sister were able to see it, so it was pretty cool. It was a cool moment.”
Switching roles with Martinez for much of the game provided some odd moments for Kellogg.
“It was weird being able to see him with a headset on and signaling (in plays), because he doesn’t really do that even in practice,” Kellogg said. “It was nice being able to come off the field and talk plays with Taylor.
“He knows so much about the game, and he just gave me confidence going back in for the next series. It’s something I cherish.”
The performance was just the latest strong one by Kellogg, continuing a streak started when he earned the backup job with a solid fall camp after not playing a down his first two seasons in Lincoln.
“He has a great understanding of the offense,” Pelini said. “He can really throw the football. He does a really good job in the passing game. He understands where to go with the ball. He’s a good decision-maker.
“We kind of have co-No. 2s between him and Tommy (Armstrong) and the longer the season goes, the more it clarifies itself and Ronnie’s the guy. We’re glad he was able to get a lot of snaps today, and I have a lot of confidence in what he can do. He’s a leader out there. He runs the offense well and he can really manage the team very well.”