Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nebraska-Oklahoma Notebook: Adrian Martinez Leads as Key Weapons Return for Huskers

September 18, 2021

“We’ve got a pretty good quarterback,” coach Scott Frost saying following Nebraska’s 23-16 loss to Oklahoma. “He had all his weapons out there.”

Those weapons were Omar Manning, Zavier Betts and Travis Vokolek. All three have faced injuries that have limited playing time throughout the season. For Vokolek, Saturday marked his first opportunity for playing time this season after being injured during fall camp. Manning returned after having a boot on his foot for the Buffalo game, as well as Betts who went down with an injury against the Bulls.

Having those weapons back were clearly a big deal for Martinez, whose numbers were impressive despite the loss.

Here’s the thing though: Martinez had his weapons but he also had to work with a struggling offensive line. All five of Nebraska’s o-linemen were flagged for various penalties at different times, making drives more difficult for Martinez to take advantage of those weapons Frost mentioned.

Frost wasn’t the only one to make note of his quarterback’s play though. Center Cameron Jurgens also spoke highly of Martinez post-game, adding that it wasn’t something that was new.

“I think he’s been balling out all year long,” Jurgens said. “I think that guy’s a gamer and he’s been leading us. I’m so proud of that man and I’ll follow him anywhere.”

Nebraska players continue to say they can play better, and that’s true. On Saturday against the No. 3 team in the country, however, Martinez played one of his best games to date. For reasons like this:

No moral victories, but it’s still worth appreciating when evaluating Nebraska’s performance against Oklahoma.

More from Nebraska’s loss to Oklahoma:

>> The kicking woes continued for Nebraska against Oklahoma. After a rough week against Buffalo, place kicker Connor Culp found himself in a similar situation. It seemed like things were looking up for Culp after making a 51-yard field goal in the first quarter—Nebraska’s first from beyond 50 yards since Drew Brown made a 51-yarder against Purdue in 2016—but it went downhill after.

After two missed field goals, one from the 50 and one from the 35, Frost replaced Culp with freshman Kelen Meyer.

“Yeah, Connor missed a lot of camp with an injury and I don’t know if it’s a lack of reps or what it is. But I know how good he can be. I’ve seen it,” Frost said. “It was my decision to put somebody else in to kick. It wasn’t so much that he missed a kick. It was kind of his reaction after the kick to me but then he came back in and hit his next one. Kicking game cost us a bunch of points today and that’s happened too often. Know how much attention to the detail to that has been paid by the coaching staff and our team . We’ve got to figure it out.”

Unfortunately, Meyer was part of one of the more memorable moments on Saturday when Oklahoma blocked his extra point attempt and returned it 100 yards for two points.

>> Teddy Prochazka may be listed on the depth chart at left tackle behind Turner Corcoran and Brant Banks, but he saw the field a little differently on Saturday. Nebraska rolled him out as a tight end.

“Watching film, we thought we had a good chance to accomplish what we wanted to accomplish with Teddy in there as a backside tight end,” tight end Austin Allen said. “He’s a big body and he can block. I think predominately out of the formations, we were clicking a little bit. Happy to see Teddy get reps. Happy to see us move the ball a little bit.”

>> What does Nebraska take from its loss to Oklahoma? While player after player said improvement needs to be made, the theme was consistent that there is plenty of season ahead for the Huskers.

“Everything we want to do is ahead of us,” inside linebacker Luke Reimer said. “I think we can win out.”

>>Nebraska’s defense kept the Huskers in the game as the offense struggled to find consistent success. There wasn’t a lot to take exception with from the Blackshirts, but linebacker JoJo Domann mentioned one thing.

“Just third downs, probably,” he said. “Just third downs.”

The good: Nebraska forced Oklahoma into a third-and-7, on average, over 11 third downs in the game.

The bad: The Sooners converted six of the 11 (54.5%)

Oklahoma converted third downs of 7 and 11 yards on its opening 14-play touchdown drive. On the first drive of the second half the Sooners turned a second-and-27 into a third-and-5, which was converted on the way to another touchdown. OU’s third touchdown drive included a 16-yard play on a third-and-7.

Only allowing three touchdowns against this offense is good on its own. One or two more stops, I things could’ve change dramatically.

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