Category Archives: Husker Quarterbacks

Martinez, NU Offense Prepare for Opener

From Nebraska sports information:

With just four days remaining until the kickoff of their 2011 season, the Nebraska Cornhuskers continued with their preparations for Tennessee-Chattanooga on Tuesday afternoon. Nebraska practiced outside on the Ed and Joyanne Gass practice fields in full pads for just over two hours. 

Following practice offensive coordinator Tim Beck spoke to the media about this afternoon’s practice, quarterback Taylor Martinez and the offense.

“It was a pretty good practice today,” Beck said. “It wasn’t bad. At the end a little bit, I think we lost our focus, but we have to continue to push through that, but overall not bad. I think the guys are ready to play somebody else for a change.”

Starting quarterback Taylor Martinez is learning a new offense where he is able to make more decisions than the previous offense. Beck spoke about how he and Martinez need to be on the same page.

“We work together and that’s the thing in this offense. Taylor and I almost have to have the same brain,” Beck said. “We have to be thinking a lot alike and we do. He’s a sharp young guy when it comes to the game of football. He can get it.”

Beck also said he told Martinez to just let the offense run its course.

“Let the offense run itself. Don’t force things,” Beck said. “Don’t feel he has to go out and play at a certain level of the offense. If he just runs the offense, everybody will get what they need to get. He doesn’t need to force throws, or runs, or decisions.  Just play the game, just like he’s been doing all fall.”

The Huskers will kick off their season in Memorial Stadium against the Mocs on Saturday afternoon at 2:30 CT. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network. Continue to check back to Huskers.com for all your Husker news.

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Is Nebraska Back in National Championship Hunt?

BY TODD NEELEY

Any doubts about how good Nebraska is pretty much vanished on a sunny day in Seattle Saturday. OK, not to mistake this Jake Locker-led Washington team for the same one that came back on Nebraska in Lincoln during a national title run in the ’90s, but playing in Seattle is a tough chore no matter what.

What we saw yesterday was a poised redshirt freshman quarterback, a powerful Husker running game and a stingy defense that made the expected top pick in the NFL draft look like an amateur in Nebraska’s 56-21 win. This isn’t to say it was the perfect game, but it just had the feel of Husker dominance of old.

There was a time in mid ’90s when you had no doubt about the outcome everytime Nebraska stepped on the field. You just expected NU to step on the field and call the score.

The biggest question mark heading into Saturday’s contest was whether Nebraska’s offense was really as good as it seemed in the first two games. Well, against the Huskies it was even better. The penalties virtually disappeared, NU took much better care of the ball, and Bo Pelini’s defense continues to show why it is the best unit in college football.

Redshirt freshman Taylor Martinez was the best player on the field Saturday, and if he’s not already raising eyebrows on a national scale he should be. Should he be a Heisman Trophy candidate? Not yet, but Martinez’ speed continues to garner attention. And most importantly, Martinez didn’t flinch once although the noise in Seattle was deafening.

Martinez made big, big plays on national television, on the road in a loud and hostile environment, and he put to rest anymore discussion about who is Nebraska’s quarterback for the next four years.

Although Bo played close to the vest about the quarterback spot all through fall camp, there’s no way he can make the case that it is a close race between Martinez, Cody Green and Zac Lee.

Pelini wanted to protect his young quarterback — it’s the only reason he told the media where to go during fall camp.

Barring injury, Martinez should make a serious run at the Heisman starting in his sophomore season. What’s more, the guy is nowhere near being polished as a quarterback. That’s what makes the kid so dangerous.

The sky is the limit.

The same goes for the Nebraska football program as a whole.

As history has shown, Pelini’s defenses only get better as the season goes on, and this unit already is pretty dang good. The only thing that kept Nebraska from making a run at a national title last season was its offense.

It makes you wonder if coaches could have somehow gotten Martinez ready to play as a true freshman?

Let’s not get too carried away here. Washington clearly has one of the worst defenses in the Pac 10 and I thought Locker was a huge letdown in one of the biggest games he’s played in awhile. I definitely thought this game would go well into the fourth quarter, but Locker and the Huskies just didn’t stack up.

Nebraska’s defense is good, but it’s time to stop buying into the Locker hype. He’s not ready for the NFL.

NU proved it can be a great road team and maybe a national title contender.

That Thursday night game against Kansas State in Manhattan will be a better test for Nebraska. The Wildcats have a formidable running game and are well-coached. Still, you’ll be hard pressed to find a tougher road game for Nebraska the rest of the way.

Suddenly the trips to College Station and Stillwater don’t seem as daunting. When you combine the running prowess of Rex Burkhead and Roy Helu Jr., along with Martinez and his ability to beat teams throwing as well, it’s a no-brainer that this team is built for the road.

Where can Nebraska improve?

Probably the one area is in the deep passing game. Right now Nebraska hasn’t had to throw deep because of a staggering running game. To compete for a national title NU will have to show it can hurt teams with the pass.

Defensively, though the defensive line has played well, this unit hasn’t dominated every down like it wants. Not to nitpick — it’s difficult to find anything wrong with this team.

Then you throw in the play of the special teams led by Alex Henery, and Nebraska has the potential to dominate every game.

Now, if Nebraska can dismantle KSU, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State on the road, and handle Texas in Lincoln, NU will be sitting pretty in the national picture.

Pelini Mishandles QB Martinez’ Absence

By Todd Neeley

What, we can’t go one week into Nebraska fall camp without a controversy?

The Lincoln Journal Star reported Friday, http://dld.bz/rNke, that redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez — one of three guys considered to be front-runners for the starting job — was absent from practice Thursday.

OK, so what? Is it a crime for Nebraska football players to actually have lives outside of the gridiron?

The way the story was reported by the Journal Star was stunning. No offense, but a blog, a story and a video clip? Seems a bit much. But Head Coach Bo Pelini may have brought this all on by himself.

In a way I get why the LJS covered it the way it did.

On Thursday Pelini cancelled media availability at the last minute following practice, leaving beat writers hanging on the vine with nothing to talk about other than to write that ‘no reason was given.’

So once again Pelini sparks a media frenzy, culminating in that Martinez wasn’t at practice, something bad must have happened, and that Pelini didn’t want to talk about it.

Following practice Friday Pelini’s only comeback was to essentially tell reporters that Martinez missed practice, we knew he was going to and was excused, and it’s none of your business.

That’s where the coach has it all wrong.

One thing I’ve learned in covering the Huskers in the past six or seven years is that reporters don’t like it when the head coach doesn’t shoot straight. In this instance Martinez’ absence may be entirely legitimate, but the way the situation was handled leaves a lot to be desired.

Let’s face it, there’s a giant spotlight on Nebraska football in general and the quarterback race in particular. Pelini knows it, and should have learned by now that he’s not only the head coach, but he’s the mouthpiece for the program.

That carries a lot of responsibility.

Martinez returned to practice on Friday, but not without a media frenzy of sorts. This didn’t have to happen.

Maybe the guy had a personal matter to tend to — that wouldn’t be a crime or a controversy. But because Pelini was intentionally evasive and vague, any reporter worth their salt would dig on the coach for an answer.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Had Pelini simply said, ‘hey, Taylor had a personal matter to tend to and had to miss practice,’ that would have been enough.

Instead, let the feeding frenzy begin.

Don’t Expect Next Frazier or Gill to Emerge for Nebraska

By Todd Neeley

It would be nice to think that Nebraska football history will repeat itself in 2010.

The Huskers start the season with a seasoned, reliable guy starting at quarterback, only to find out the young guy behind him was a future star — a guy that can step in run the offense at a national championship level.

Sorry folks, don’t expect the second coming of Turner Gill, Tommie Frazier or Keithan McCant to emerge from the shadows.

No offense to the guys on the roster right now, but there just isn’t that kind of guy in the wings.

Honestly? Zac Lee is a solid player that lacks flash. Cody Green is big, strong arm, but doesn’t seem to be as fast as advertised and lacks that flash that Frazier had when he leaped Missouri defenders and into the end zone in his first start.

Taylor Martinez has no experience, has an awkward throwing motion, is very fast with big-play ability, and he hasn’t played a down of big-time college football.

With all due respect, Nebraska just has a lot of guys at the position.

All of them come into camp this week with high expectations and a renewed sense of purpose. Coaches have said all of them have an equal shot to win the job.

Fostering competition is key to getting better play out of the quarterback spot in 2010, but to be in the national picture Nebraska will need one of these guys to step to the forefront and be a difference maker.

Is a solid Zac Lee enough to win a conference title and be in the national hunt? Maybe.

Is Taylor Martinez all-around good enough to make this offense better? Probably not.

Is Green, the guy with more physical skills than any other QB at Nebraska, ever going to see the light bulb go on? Who knows.

If you step back and really look at what Nebraska has at the position, just in appearances only, Green should be the guy to emerge — the Vince Young in the wings ready for a chance.

Problem is, Green had that shot last season as a true freshman, and he wasn’t ready to play.

He played tentatively, made freshman mistakes and never really did anything on the field that gave the impression he was going to explode as the new star on the Husker scene.

Sure, in the spring Green made progress in overcoming some of those mistakes, and he played well. Still, it was hard to come away with the impression that the big guy had arrived.

Martinez became a fan favorite in a big hurry, in part because of the press he received with Zac Lee shelved with an injury. But let’s face it, Martinez faced a vanilla defense in terms of scheme, and was clearly running just a handful of plays all game long.

So, does Nebraska turn its offense over to a very young guy with an average arm and fast feet? I don’t think so.

Does NU give Green the rock because he made far fewer mistakes in the spring? Doubt it.

Then again, the jury is still out on whether Zac Lee can be more than just a field general. NU needs a big-play guy behind center, someone who will make a handful of big plays in the big games.

The press coverage of the first day of Nebraska practice/fan day was thoroughly cliche’.

One popular columnist wrote a brief blog on impressions from NU’s first day of practice, saying that players seem to have a swagger, confidence or whatever you call it.

Yeah, I bet even 0-12 Western Kentucky has a whole new outlook on the first day of a new season.

It would be a good idea to let the jury get the case before we render a decision.

When one guy at the quarterback spot can step in, make the offense go like a well-oiled machine, blow out the teams Nebraska should and lead NU to a win over Texas, then we’ll start talking about confidence and swagger.

The jury is still out.

QB Turner Doesn’t Shy Away From Competition

The Lincoln Journal Star reported Wednesday (http://dld.bz/hX2V) that Arlington, Texas, QB recruit Jamal Turner embraces the competition he’ll face at Nebraska with fellow 2011, QB recruit Bubba Starling.

What’s more, Turner indicated that he’s excited about Nebraska’s move to the Big 10 despite some concern by fans and others that moving to the Big 10 could hurt NU’s recruiting efforts in Texas.

Turner told the Journal Star that the prospect of playing Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State every year will be enough to convince Texas kids to come to Nebraska.

Also, in other recruiting news (http://dld.bz/hX3b), Nebraska picked up a verbal committment from 6-9, 265-pound Zach Sterup from Hastings St. Cecilia High School in Hastings, Neb. Sterup is reportedly set to play offensive line for the Huskers.

I saw this kid play hoops in the district playoffs this past season, and for sure the guy has the potential to be a great player. In some ways he reminds you of Outland Trophy winner Zach Wiegert. Wiegert was 6-5, 300, and could run like an I back.

Sterup moves very well on the court and has the kind of feet to become a great offensive tackle at Nebraska.

Time will tell.