Quarterback Adrian Martinez steps back and looks to throw the ball during practice
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Adrian Martinez ‘Here for the Competition’ Between Husker QBs

October 08, 2020

If you were hoping for some additional clarity on whether or not Adrian Martinez and Luke McCaffrey will split reps in 2020, you didn’t get that on Thursday. We already know Martinez has an edge in the competition—at least offensive coordinator Matt Lubick said so previously—but that doesn’t mean McCaffrey won’t see some time this season too.

“That’s ultimately going to be [Scott Frost’s] decision with how that plays out,” quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco said during a Zoom call on Thursday.

While the decision does rest with Frost, Verduzco feels good about his room. The key, after all, is to have as many good quarterbacks as you can.

“And I feel good about Adrian and Luke both,” Verduzco said.

In fact, McCaffrey has gotten a “boatload” of reps during camp so far and has run with both the 2s and the 1s. He’s also improved his “stroke” and “thrust on the ball,” according to his position coach, and is flinging the ball around well.

Through it all, Verduzco has found the duo more similar than not.

“They’re very similar in a lot of ways in terms of their skill set,” he said.

He also feels good about Logan Smothers, who “is sharp as a tack.” If Smothers had to go into the game, Verduzco said he’d have no problem knowing what he’s doing. As for Matt Masker, Verduzco said he is “just a tough-ass Nebraska kid.”

So the depth looks good. That’s a positive thing beyond any potential quarterback competition too, because depth is needed in 2020 more than ever. With the COVID-19 pandemic, no coach wants to lose a player due to the virus but Nebraska has some wiggle room if something were to happen.

Verduzco would rather not have to deal with that though. That means he—alongside the team—have done a lot of disinfecting around the meeting rooms and the locker room so far this year. It’s all about player safety, meaning Verduzco has been focused on keeping them all in the game.

With a little over two weeks until the first game day, that means speculation can continue around who will play and how much. For Martinez, he appreciated the competition. It’s always been an open competition since he arrived at Nebraska, and that hasn’t changed in 2020. No matter where McCaffrey ends up—whether that’s quarterback, running back or wide receiver—it’s all making Martinez better.

“Luke’s pushing me, and I love it,” Martinez said. “I’m here for the competition.”

And what that means come Oct. 24?

“Whatever the coaches decide to do, we’ll do,” Martinez said.

More news and notes:

>> Running backs coach Ryan Held feels good about where senior running back Dedrick Mills is heading into the season. That started toward the end of 2019 and has only grown from there.

“Well, he’s definitely gotten a lot better over the last year and you could see the progress he made toward the end of the year,” Held said.

Held also said Mills has been a leader to the group, which is fairly young.

“So he has to be the bell cow,” Held said. “I expect a big senior year for him.”

>> Don’t expect to see Wan’Dale Robinson in the backfield much in 2020. Held said he’s a slot receiver and he will be primarily focused there.

>> McCaffrey said he’s up to 205 pounds now, but he’s done his best to make sure he has kept his speed.

>> Mills shared an article recently on mental health. Martinez credited the Nebraska sports psychologist and all of the support at Memorial Stadium for what they’ve done for the team.

With that said, he did say mental health is not talked about enough.

“It’s definitely not talked about enough, especially in college sports,” Martinez said. “It makes me glad to be a part of Nebraska. We have a great support system.”

>> How does Martinez feel physically?

“I would say I feel as good as I have in a while,” he said. “That’s obviously exciting for me and I’m ready to get out there and show it.”

>> Martinez said he is excited about Kade Warner and Wyatt Liewer at wide receiver.

>> When there were doubts over whether or not a season would happen, McCaffery said he and his teammates did their best to remain positive and appreciate being around one another.

Martinez agreed.

“When something is taken away, you appreciate it more,” Martinez said.

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