Taylor Martinez wasn't supposed to return until he was 100-percent healthy. Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said it repeatedly the past month.
But there Martinez was, starting against Minnesota — anything but at full strength. The senior quarterback acknowledged as much Saturday after the Cornhuskers' 34-23 loss to the Gophers.
Martinez also said the injury to his left foot had been inaccurately described to the media as turf toe, which is a sprain of the ligaments around the big toe joint. The injury actually is to his second and third toes. He declined to comment when asked if either of the toes were sprained or broken.
"It's been a very rough past month, five weeks or whatever it's been," Martinez said. "Pretty much living in that training room and trying to get my foot healthy, as healthy as possible, as much as I can tolerate it."
Pelini, during his postgame news conference in Minneapolis, didn't speak directly to why Martinez started.
"Let's not go there and act like Taylor Martinez lost this football game for us," Pelini said. "Our problems today were far beyond who our quarterback was. That was a team loss."
Martinez completed 16 of 30 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown. His receivers dropped at least four catchable balls, and he threw a meaningless interception at the end of the game.
Martinez, whose straight-ahead speed is his greatest asset, was sacked four times and netted 16 yards on eight carries. "Every time I push off, it shocks me," he said, referring to his left foot.
Martinez said he originally hurt his foot and left (non-throwing) shoulder in the opener against Wyoming, but he remained in the lineup through the Sept. 14 loss to UCLA. Martinez said his shoulder still bothers him, but not as much as his foot.