Nebraska Football's quarterback Adrian Martinez Throws Ball Over Wisconsin Defense
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Nebraska-Wisconsin Notebook: Martinez Breaks Records, but the Wins Still Aren’t There for Huskers

November 20, 2021

Quarterback Adrian Martinez hit a pretty significant milestone on Saturday. He passed Tommy Armstrong Jr.’s total offense record, which stood since Armstrong left Nebraska in 2016.

The former Nebraska quarterback even chimed in to congratulate Martinez on history made.

If you open the replies to Nebraska’s tweet, however, you won’t be met by a stream of well wishes (although there are a few). Instead, it sounds a lot like this:

“So many yards and so few wins.”

“And a career losing record to go along with it.”

“What about those turnovers?”

You get the picture.

Nebraska is 15-21 under both Martinez and Coach Scott Frost through four seasons. That’s what fans are looking at more than anything, not the records Martinez has piled up in four seasons at Nebraska.

We’ve talked about the post-game notes in this space before. We’re going to do it again. Here’s what Nebraska sent out in regards to Martinez following the loss to Wisconsin (edited for clarity in some cases):

  • Martinez completed 23-of-35 passes for 351 yards, marking his fourth career 300-yard passing game. He also rushed for 23 yards on nine carries to account for 374 yards of total offense. With his yardage output Martinez increased his career total offense total to 10,792, setting the Nebraska career record for total offense, passing Tommy Armstrong Jr.’s previous record of 10,690 yards from 2013 to 2016.
  • Martinez moved into the top 10 on the Big Ten career total offense list with his 10,792 yards. He sits in seventh place, moving past Illinois’ Juice Williams (10,594 yards), Illinois’ Nathan Scheelhaase (10,634), Armstrong (10,690) and Michigan’s Denard Robinson (10,745).
  • Martinez increased his total to 3,388 yard of total offense this season. The 3,388 yards of total offense this season are a career high for Martinez and moved him into fifth place on Nebraska’s season total offense chart.
  • Martinez passed for at least 200 yards for the 12th consecutive game, the longest individual 200-yard passing streak in school history.
  • Martinez increased his season passing total to 2,863 yards, marking his highest season total in his four seasons as the starter. Martinez’s 2,863 yards ranks sixth on the Nebraska season passing list.
  • Martinez had a 1-yard TD run for his 35th career rushing touchdown, tied for fourth in Big Ten history.

It’s a lot of good. Rightfully so, too, because Martinez has done a lot of good in his time as Nebraska’s quarterback. He’s fought through injuries—multiple in 2021, including a jaw injury that forced him to take his meals through a straw as reported by ABC during the game—and handled the criticism with grace. He’s the kind of leader his coaches and teammates praise. Even fans commend Martinez for the kind of person he is. It’s rare to find someone who speaks poorly about Martinez the person.

“He’s one of the toughest guys I’ve ever played with,” wide receiver Samori TourĂ© said postgame. “He’s one of the best leaders I’ve ever played with. I’d go to battle for him every day of the week. I love the guy.”

Could Touré see that Martinez was battling things against Wisconsin? It seemed as if Martinez may have done something to his shoulder late in the first half, which meant Logan Smothers went into the game for one series (and ultimately burned his redshirt doing so).

“He’s been battling stuff all year but he does a really good job of not showing it,” TourĂ© said. “If you didn’t know he was hurt, you wouldn’t know. You know what I mean? He’s not a ‘me’ guy, he doesn’t make it about himself. He’s just about doing his best to help the team win games. You’ve got to respect that.”

Martinez ended the day against Wisconsin with 23-of-35 passing attempts for 351 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He had another nine carries for 34 yards and one touchdown.

Here’s what was written about Martinez following the loss to Purdue:

“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.”

Nebraska tweeted something out this time. It had to. Breaking the all-time total offense record deserves acknowledgement, even in another loss. It’s just hard to fault fans who aren’t exactly in the celebrating mood one records broken when Nebraska can’t seem to find a way to win.

Because Nebraska continues to give itself opportunities to win, but cannot seem to capitalize on those opportunities. An interesting milestone, one that Husker fans—and coaches and players for that matter—certainly wish they could evade.

More news and notes:

>> Speaking of records, Touré posted some big stats against Wisconsin. It was his fifth 100-yard receiving game of the season tying the school record also held by Stanley Morgan Jr. who had five 100-yard receiving games in 2017.

For Touré, he was a little surprised by Wisconsin letting Nebraska run as free at it did, but he knew the Huskers could take advantage of that opportunity.

“Watching film, we saw a lot of other guys hit deep shots on them but I kind of thought coming into this game that they would try to take that away because that’s what our offense is,” TourĂ© said. “We take shots. We’re explosive plays. We’re one of the most explosive offenses in the conference but they let us run and we attacked them.”

>> Interesting answer from Markese Stepp on how he evaluated his performance—and the team’s performance—in the loss to Wisconsin.

“Personally, I could do better,” he said. “It was good to be back out there playing and just battling with my teammates every day. Coming out here and battling with them tonight. Another game where we come up short. I don’t think this is a losing . . . Yeah, we have losses but I wouldn’t necessarily say we are a losing team. Our attitude isn’t losers. We aren’t losers. We’re really winners. We’ve got to find ways to get the little things done, make a few more plays we needed and this whole season might be turned around. We might be in a conversation for the Playoffs if we took a few plays away here and there and turn it around.

“Another one we come up short but we’ve got to go back to the drawing board on Monday, or tomorrow, and get prepared for this short week and prepare for Iowa.”

>> Tight end Thomas Fidone saw the playing field against Wisconsin for the first time this season. He has been working back form a knee injury suffered in the spring.

As for his assignment against the Badgers? He was in a couple of goal line packages, where Nebraska wanted him to just “kick out the guys” but it didn’t look exactly as he expected.

“I had a nice little ‘Welcome to the Big Ten’ hit, so it was good,” Fidone said.

However, he’s grateful for the experience and being able to get his feet wet on a football field once again after rehabbing for so long.

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