Reevaluating Martinez: Passing Grade

On Saturday, August 4th, 2012, the Omaha World Herald ran a story on Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez. Much like any article published prior to the season, Martinez was asked about his goals – goals for himself, goals for his team and goals for his season. This particular piece stood out from the rest though, as it garnered Martinez a large amount of scrutiny. More than usual.

When asked for a completion rate goal in 2012, Martinez said, “70 percent or above.”

He was called immature. He was called unrealistic. He was called a lot of other names that cannot be published here.

The question, though, is why?

The reasoning is tough to determine. Is it his inconsistency? Is it the idea that past Nebraska quarterbacks, as option quarterbacks, were not expected to be great passers, but Martinez, running a spread offense, is? Or, simply, is it all about winning?

The questions are easy but the answers are not.

When Martinez emerged in 2010, some called him the “next Tommie Frazier.” His legs were gold and the boy could run. Things changed though. A new offensive coordinator created a new style of play for the quarterback. Martinez was now responsible for a different style of play, one that relied more heavily on his arm and less on his legs.

So how does Martinez match up with the Nebraska greats as a passer? Let’s start at the top. The season-by-season completion percentages for Tommie Frazier were:

1992: 44.4%
1993: 47.5%
1994: 43.2%
1995: 56.4%

In comparison, Martinez ended 2012 at 62 percent after completing 56.3 and 59.2 percent of his passes as a sophomore and freshman respectively. So far, the statistics fall in his favor. Especially when it is considered that, while Martinez was expected to use his arm more often, his ability to run the ball when needed did not change.

Taking a look at other quarterbacks may shed better light on Martinez’s abilities:

Turner Gill:
1981 – 51.6%
1982 – 54.2%
1983 – 55.3%

Scott Frost:
1996 – 52%
1997 – 55.3%

Eric Crouch:
1999 – 51.9%
2000 – 48.1%
2001 – 55.6%

Zac Taylor:
2006 – 59.6%

It should also be noted that Taylor was Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year in 2006.

Here’s how those numbers look broken out by year:

The passing percentages for many of the quarterbacks considered the best in Nebraska history look pretty similar, and oftentimes worse, than what Martinez had at the same point in his career as a starter. Yet, the scrutiny continues. There is really only one additional quarterback worth looking at that more closely compares to Martinez.

His name is Joe Ganz.

In 2008, Ganz set a school record for completion percentage at 67.9%. Ganz also has the school record for career completion percentage at 65.13%.

In 2013, Martinez wouldn’t be wrong to set a goal of 70 percent for himself once again. In fact, it may be more obtainable this time around. After all, he works closely with Ganz, the man he’s out to take the current record from. However, it is unlikely Martinez could top Ganz’s career mark. Sitting at 59.39% for his career, Martinez would need to complete around 75% of his passes to take the career completion percentage record from Ganz.

Regardless, Martinez’s career does not rest on taking Ganz’s career passing record. Martinez ranks in the top ten in Nebraska history based on NCAA passer rating in his three seasons as starting quarterback.

A lot has changed in the time Martinez has been quarterback for Nebraska. He has seen players and coaches come and go, yet through all of the rumors of his own departure, he has stayed put. There are a lot of things that can be said about Martinez, but the scrutiny on his passing is baffling to some degree. When the completion numbers are broken down, he’s right there with anyone else in school history.

With that said, Martinez is hardly immature for his lofty 70 perfect goal. Instead, it should be exactly what fans should want to see from their starting quarterback.

It doesn’t really matter though. If there is one thing anyone has learned, it is that Taylor Martinez does what Taylor Martinez wants to do.

And Taylor Martinez will hit 70 percent in 2013.


Check back Tuesday as the discussion of Martinez’s place in Nebraska history continues with a comparative look at his rushing numbers.