Nebraska Football Player Sits on the Field
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nebraska-Purdue Notebook: Adrian Martinez’s Ups and Down, a Change at Kicker and More

October 30, 2021

Nebraska sends out halftime and post-game notes from every football game, win or lose. The notes range, but they’re typically positive. The post-game notes sent following the Huskers’ 28-23 loss to Purdue included five on quarterback Adrian Martinez.

Here they are as sent, with minor editing:

  • Martinez completed 14-of-29 passes for 269 yards and two touchdowns in the game. With his 14 completions, Martinez now has 631 career completions, a NU career record, passing the previous record of 625 completions by Tommy Armstrong Jr.
  • Martinez rushed 10 times for 18 yards and one touchdown. With his one rushing touchdown, Martinez increased his career total to 33, sixth in Big Ten history among quarterbacks. Martinez is also sixth in school history in rushing touchdowns.
  • Martinez accounted for 287 yards of total offense in the game to increase his career total to 10,119, making him the third Husker with 10,000 yards of career total offense, joining Tommy Armstrong Jr. (10,690) and Taylor Martinez (10,233).
  • Martinez increased his season passing total to 2,264 yards. He is the fourth Husker with two 2,000-yard passing seasons, joining Tommy Armstrong Jr., Taylor Martinez and Zac Taylor.
  • Martinez increased his career scoring total to 204 points. He is the third Husker quarterback to score 200 career points, joining Eric Crouch (368) and Tommie Frazier (222). He is the 19th Husker overall with 200 career points.

The 10,000 total offense mark felt notable but it passed by on social media without much fanfare. Understandable. It’s hard to get too excited about a career milestone when Nebraska is trailing and about to lose its sixth game of the season. Martinez also went 14-of-29 for 269 yards, two touchdown and four interceptions.

Oof.

Fans took to Twitter to ask about backup Logan Smothers. Was he available? Could he play? Why wasn’t Nebraska making a change if Martinez was struggling?

Martinez, who is in his fourth year as Nebraska’s starting quarterback, was benched for a period of time during the 2020 season in favor of backup Luke McCaffrey. Frost spoke about that decision in late September, pointing to his own benching while Nebraska’s quarterback against Central Florida. He said the situation turned out OK for both in the end and that Martinez started playing “with a chip on his shoulder” following his benching.

With that past history in mind, would Frost revisit the possibility of re-opening the quarterback competition at this point in the season? Smothers has seen a little playing time—not much, of course, as it was mostly when Nebraska was winning comfortably—but McCaffrey hadn’t exactly seen much by the time he got the starting nod either.

“That’s not a story,” Frost said Saturday night post-game. “We’re going to play the guy we think gives us the best chance to win, period. Right now it’s Adrian.”

Martinez’s third interception came with 7:24 to play in the game. Fans booed and starting making their way for the exits. His pass was intended for wide receiver Samori Touré, but it sailed right by him. Purdue safety Cam Allen snagged it instead.

“Adrian and I and the rest of the receivers are constantly talking throughout the game,” Touré said. “Telling him what we’re seeing. Telling us what he sees. Communication is a big thing and that’s something we were doing throughout the game.”

Any specifics?

“Just telling him what I see, what routes I’m open on,” Touré continued. “What routes I think will work. Stuff like that.”

Touré was diplomatic. When asked about the pass he missed right before the end of the first half, he said it wasn’t miscommunication that caused it. “I just believe the ball sailed on me a little bit,” he said while pointing toward the wind. Touré said he couldn’t tell what way the wind was blowing—which was a fair assessment considering the wind did shift from the southwest to the northwest while picking up a bit after the first half—but he didn’t want that to be an excuse.

Touré also pointed toward the kind of leader that Martinez is. He’s the same guy in losses as he is in wins. The same leader no matter what.

That alone makes this situation tough. A number of fans noted how much respect they have for Martinez on Twitter, before questioning why Frost wasn’t doing something. Anything. It’s all understandable.

On a day where Nebraska typically would have tweeted something out when its starting quarterback hit the 10,000 total yards mark, instead there was silence. Because the accomplishment was notable, but it came at the expense of another Nebraska loss.

A quarterback who truly holds the weight of a team on his shoulders. For better and worse.

More news and notes: 

>> Chase Contreraz, who started at kicker in place of Connor Culp, made each of his two field goal opportunities—Nebraska went for the two-point conversion attempt on its last touchdown—and connected on a 33-yard field goal in the second quarter.

When did he know he was going to get the nod? Contreraz said that Frost came up to him on the field after practice and asked if he was ready.

“Throughout the week, we opened up the competition,” Contreraz said. “Throughout the week, I’ve just been kicking really good and ended up making everything this week so I didn’t know until about Thursday when coach finally congratulated me and let me know. I was really excited about that.”

The competition even included a sudden-death matchup, which Contreraz said he took advantage of.

>> “Magic speeches aren’t going to change this,” Frost said, adding that he left the locker room after the game and let the captains address the team. What did those captains say? Offensive lineman Nouri Nouili gave some insight.

“We need to change something. We can’t have the same weeks over and over. Like every weekend we play a good game and fall short by one or two plays and it’s every weekend and we can’t have that happen again. Like, we need those next three games if we want a bowl game so we have to change something up during the week.”

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