LINCOLN, Neb. — Adrian Marinez had just spent five minutes at the podium answering questions following Nebraska's 54-35 victory over Illinois. As he left, something caught his eye: his stat line.
Martinez had a good day against the Fighting Illini. He was 24-of-34 (or a completion percentage just shy of 71 percent) for 290 yards and three touchdowns in the air. He added another 55 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Yet Martinez paused.
"4.2," Martinez said. "That's no good."
Martinez was referencing his rushing average. Against Illinois, he averaged 4.2 yards per carry. He could have focused on the 55 yards he contributed on the ground, but he wanted more.
Coach Scott Frost understands. He's seen Martinez get a little better and a little more comfortable with the offense every single week.
“Every week he’s making a few more better decisions," Frost said. "There’s still a couple things he needs to learn, and he learned a couple new things today on protections and some things, but there’s not going to be anybody better than him once he gets as good as he can be.
"He’s so fun to be on a team with because he was disappointed today that he didn’t play better. I don’t think he’s ever going to be happy until he plays a perfect game, which is never going to happen, so he’s going to be hungry.”
In Part I of the Big Ten Network's 'The Journey' on Martinez, quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco said it took only three plays of the freshman's high school higlights to understand what he was seeing.
"I just had this notion in my mind that just reminded me of Marcus Mariota," Verduzco said.
Martinez quickly became the top quarterback on the board for Frost and Verduzco at Central Florida. When the staff made the decision to move to Lincoln, Frost's first call was to Martinez. And during a crazy month where Frost split time recruiting for Nebraska and coaching UCF to the Peach Bowl, he made the cross country trip from Orlando to Fresno to see Martinez.
Ten months later, life looks very different for Martinez than it did then. He enrolled early at Nebraska, competing immediately for the starting role with the Huskers. Martinez then became the first true freshman in school history to start at quarterback in the season opener.
Following Saturday's 345-yard day, Martinez is now at 2,747 yards of total offense and has set a program record for total yards in a seaosn by a freshman. He passed the previous record of 2,596 yards by Taylor Martinez in 2010.
And then there's this:
— BTNStatsGuys (@BTNStatsGuys) November 10, 2018
Martinez is pretty good and he's pretty good for being only 18-years-old. His teammates have commented over and over about his maturity. Frost has noted how he doesn't shy away from taking the blame when things go wrong, whether it's deserved or not. That's just who Martinez is.
So it makes sense that Martinez would focus on his rushing average against Illinois. There were plenty of other numbers on that stat sheet that he could have settled on, but he saw the one where he feels he could use a little improvement.
Martinez has made giant strides already this season. He credits his coaches and teammates for that, but he knows there's more out there for him.
You could hear it during his time at the podium when he was asked about his progress at Nebraska so far.
“Just the experience I’ve gained throughout this process I think has really helped," Martinez said. "Just different situations and growing with my teammates and coaches. Really, to point back to the great people I’m around it really just helped me progress to this point.
"I still feel like I haven’t scratched the surface.”
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.