Adrian Martinez is looking good, but Nebraska might be playing games with Indiana before the actual game begins.
The Hoosiers’ starting quarterback, Michael Penix Jr. was named early in the week as a game-time decision. Penix, as a freshman, came in and took the job from incumbent starter Peyton Ramsey and has done pretty well to keep it. But Indiana and head coach Tom Allen are being tight-lipped about which quarterback the Husker defense will see Saturday afternoon inside Memorial Stadium, so Nebraska is doing the same.
Quarterback coach Mario Verduzco said Martinez, the Huskers’ sophomore star, is starting to “look like his old self” and got more work in practice this week than last. Offensive coordinator Troy Walters said Martinez, equipped with a knee brace this week, is moving better than a week ago.
“We’re hopeful,” Walters said. “All the quarterbacks are taking reps so we’ll see game day who’s ready to go. We have faith in whichever quarterback is out there.”
“He seems to be a young guy that can heal pretty quickly,” Verduzco added. “I think most young guys are like that just in general, but it seems like he recovers from things fairly quickly.”
Martinez missed the Huskers’ last game against Minnesota and his replacement, Noah Vedral, went 14-for-23 for 135 yards. Martinez will be a game-time decision.
Other News and Notes
>> Wan’Dale Robinson’s status might be a little more optimistic than Martinez’s.
“Dedrick [Mills] will play more,” Walters said when asked about what the running back situation will look like on Saturday. “Brody Belt you’ll see. Wan’Dale will play more at running back. Rahmir [Johnson], we’re hoping, will get some run this week. He’s playing well. Fast. Explosive.”
So Robinson is in the gameplan?
“We’re hopeful. He’s been out there doing some things so we’re hopeful he’ll be out there ready to go Saturday.”
Robinson went through practice again Wednesday.
>> Verduzco was asked if maybe a series on the sideline to open a game could help Martinez when it comes to diagnosing what the defense is doing, then asked again if having multiple weeks on the sideline could help him in his identification.
“It’s a fun cliché, I don’t deal in clichés,” the coach said. “You get better when you play.”
And Verduzco said Martinez is itching to play.
>> Ryan Held isn’t worrying about guys who aren’t in his room.
“I like the guys that are in the room,” the running backs coach said. “They've worked hard. They want to be out there. They want to get things done. That's how I deal with it. I don't worry about what I don't have. We can always covet something we don't have with us. We just move on.”
>> Offensive line coach Greg Austin said he’s hoping to see both Bryce Benhart and Ethan Piper in the game Saturday against Indiana. Head coach Scott Frost said Monday those guys have to be ready before they can play, and Austin said Wednesday that both true freshmen are mentally ready. He likes their maturity. Austin said a true freshman at a program like Nebraska will never be physically ready to handle second- and third-year guys, but Austin said he’d trust both on the field right now.
>> Austin also wouldn’t tip his hand when it comes to the left guard situation. He said Broc Bando, who replaced starter Trent Hixson against Minnesota at halftime, was good-not-great in relief efforts and could be a rotational guy going forward. Asked if the plan was to still roll with Hixson as the starter and then rotate Bando in, Austin simply grinned and said, “We have a plan.”
>> Kade Warner, now healthy, is expected to factor heavily into the picture at wide receiver moving forward. “He’s a reliable target,” Walters said. But just like with everyone else, the bye week afforded a good deal of reps for other guys. Walters said freshman and early enrollee Jamie Nance (who Frost praised Monday for his work on scout team) got reps and did well with them.
So did fellow true freshman Demariyon “Peanut” Houston and sophomore Jaevon McQuitty.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.