Just how different is quarterback Adrian Martinez heading into his fourth season with Nebraska? According to tight ends coach Sean Beckton, it’s “night and day” for things like his mechanics, leadership and confidence.
“I love where he’s at right now,” Beckton said following Wednesday’s practice. “I told him yesterday to stay where he is because he’s in such a good spot.”
Obviously we’re only one week into fall camp but the general consensus of both players and coaches is that Martinez looks good as the Huskers’ starting quarterback. That means focus will eventually start to turn to that backup quarterback spot, but even asking about all of the players in quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco’s room eventually leads back to talk about Martinez.
“All of the quarterbacks are looking really good,” senior wide receiver Levi Falck. “You know, Adrian’s looking amazing. All of these other quarterbacks are following in his footsteps and he’s been a tremendous leader so that helps.”
OK, so what exactly is it that Martinez is doing that’s standing out?
“You guys will see it,” Falck said. “He’s more confident in the pocket, moving around and avoiding defenders, and keeping his eyes downfield. He’s making those throws and stepping up in the pocket and the wide receivers and tight ends have done a good job in some scramble drills where the quarterback breaks pocket and you have to find some open space. He’s finding us.”
From Beckton’s perspective, he sees Martinez “demanding a lot out of himself” and in turn “demanding a lot out of his teammates.” That includes calling teammates out when things need to be corrected. It also means supporting them, too.
Again, we’re only one week in but the reviews are glowing for Martinez so far.
More news and notes:
>> There were four NFL scouts in attendance for Wednesday’s practice. It seemed like they were particularly focused on the tight ends, which makes some sense based on what offensive coordinator Matt Lubick said.
During his final season at Oregon in 2016, Lubick had three Ducks that went on to be NFL tight ends. As far as he is concerned, Austin Allen and Travis Vokolek are two of the best tight ends he’s ever worked with. Frost made similar comments at Big Ten Media Days.
“I think my last year at Oregon we had three tight ends that all went to the NFL and these are the best two that I’ve ever been around from a consistency, leadership and just the way they practice,” Lubick said, explaining what makes Allen and Vokolek stand out from those he’s work with before.
>> Running back Markese Stepp had foot surgery during the offseason, but recovery seems to be ahead of schedule. While it’s a practice-by-practice situation, Lubick said he looks ready to go with no limitations.
Frost mentioned previously that Stepp would be on a “pitch count” this camp. Lubick said that if they had to play tomorrow Stepp would be ready to go.
“He looks 100% to me,” Lubick said.
>> Beckton said they’ve moved up the installation period for red zone and short yardage installation periods so they can get more work in those situations. That’s a clear point of emphasis this offseason.
Beckton also said they used the tight ends more than ever before in the red zone last season and they plan to ramp that up even more this year, starting with some new wrinkles they’re planning to add later this week.
>> Offensive line coach Greg Austin said fifth-year juniors Matt Sichterman and Broc Bando are guys they’re going to depend on this year and that their improvement since last season has been “ultra-important.”
>> Austin talked a lot about horizontal leadership and how willing guys are to accept criticism from others. There are times where he said he can’t even get a word in after someone makes a mistake because other guys or on it right away. Ethan Piper said Cameron Jurgens and Sichterman are the two most demanding and vocal leaders on the offensive line.
>> The first three running backs mentioned by Lubick were Stepp, Sevion Morrison and Gabe Ervin. They are working through a five-man rotation right now with Marvin Scott III and Rahmir Johnson also getting reps. Right now, they are throwing everything at them but he’d like to have a better idea of who the number one and two guys are when preparation starts for the Illinois game.
>> Offensive guard Matt Sichterman noted that he’s worked a lot in the number one guard spot. He’s working hard to maintain that but he has also taken on a leadership role to help bring along young players like Henry Lutovsky and Teddy Prochazka. Sichterman said that he is jealous of how physically developed Lutovsky is for college football as a freshman.
>> You can watch the video from open practice below.