Luke McCaffrey’s departure left Nebraska a little light at the quarterback position. Scott Frost and Mario Verduzco have just three scholarship players and one walk-on in that room with another walk-on set to arrive this summer.
Adrian Martinez has plenty of experience, but the rest of the quarterbacks in the room have a combined zero in-game snaps under their belts. With that being the case, Nebraska adding a veteran option to the room after the spring to back up Martinez has been a popular thought among fans and media.
Frost said he and his staff haven’t made any final decisions, but it doesn’t sound like adding another quarterback is a priority at this point.
“We still have a couple spots that we’ll try to find anybody that we think can help our team the most,” Frost said. “Right now, I wouldn’t say it would probably be quarterback.”
Frost said before the spring that he wanted to see how the spring went before potentially adding another body to that room, and based on his answers on Wednesday it seems like he’s seen enough from the young quarterbacks to feel good moving forward.
“Steady improvement is how I would characterize it,” Frost said. “Matt Masker continues to do good things. Logan Smothers, every single day, got better, and his control and command of the offense is improving and getting to a point where I feel great with him. [Heinrich] Haarberg is a really talented kid that can run and throw. He was swimming a little bit at first, but he’s hungry to learn and he’s really improved throughout spring.
“Mario’s done a good job with that room and those guys made a lot of progress; still have a ways to go, but have made a ton of progress this spring.”
Logan Smothers arrived early in Lincoln but didn’t get the chance to go through a full spring period as planned because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, he’s been in the program and has been working with Verduzco for over a year now and Frost said he’s seen significant progress from the freshman.
“He’s working through a few mechanical things with Mario and has been for a while,” Frost said. “We’re really starting to see the benefits of that this spring. Honestly, when he doesn’t think about it — any time you’re trying to alter something, when you think about it you get a little in your own head. When he doesn’t think about it he rips it great. We’ll keep working with him, but I’d expect by this fall it’ll be second nature to him. I was really impressed by the progress he made in all aspects of his game, but particularly throwing it this spring.”
Haarberg, the true freshman out of Kearney Catholic, has drawn his share of praise this spring, though the coaches have cautioned that he’ll need some time to fully master the playbook. Masker, also a Kearney Catholic alumnus, will be a fourth-year sophomore in 2021 and has made the travel roster throughout his first three years in Lincoln.
Fans should get a chance to see all four quarterbacks take the field on Saturday at the Red-White Spring Game. Typically, entrenched starters like Martinez wouldn’t log too many snaps, but Frost said that since the first half won’t include live tackling that Martinez will likely play most of the first half.
“I imagine most of the veterans will play the first half now that it’s not tackle,” Frost said. “It’s going to be practice tempo and we’ll trust the referees to blow it down at their discretion, and that’s going to gives an opportunity to let some of the veterans play a little bit more.”
Whether it be on the White team or in the second half, Smothers, Haarberg and Masker should still get plenty of opportunity to show the fans what they’ve shown Frost throughout the spring.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.