Nebraska's coaching staff played coy for most of the spring any time the quarterback competition came up. Saturday, during the Huskers' annual Red-White Game (an outing the Red team took 49-9) the quarterbacks were on full display.
Brandon Vogel, Greg Smith, Jacob Padilla and Derek Peterson offer up their thoughts on a few cubes-related topics.
Which quarterback stood out the most?
BV: It’s certainly tough to outdo what Adrian Martinez did, though with his late touchdown pass to Kade Warner, Tristan Gebbia ended up with a similar passer rating (171.2) as Martinez (176). Of course, Martinez also added 60 yards rushing and three touchdowns that way, which can’t be ignored. And it won’t be. If anything, Gebbia’s solid day will probably get underplayed.
GS: On a normal day, Gebbia would have been the star of the day with his performance in the game. It was not your normal day. Martinez stood out above all. If you didn’t know he was a true freshman that enrolled early, you would have thought he was a redshirt junior out there based on how composed he was. Martinez just has game-changing athleticism and it was on full display during the spring game.
JP: Martinez won the day with his speed, showing how dynamic this offense can be with a guy like that under center. His 23-yard touchdown up the right sideline that ended in a dive for the pylon was one of the most impressive plays of the entire day as he evaded a defender in the flat (remember, any touch would have downed him) before hitting turbo-drive to the end zone. It would have been interesting to see how contact would have impacted Martinez’s runs – would he have broken a few and racked up even more yardage, or would defenders have closed on him more urgently and roughed him up a bit? However, like Brandon said, Gebbia had a pretty impressive day as well. He missed a few throws but overall looked sharp in the pocket, going through progressions and making the right read. He had a couple of nice runs as well.
DP: It’s Martinez for me. I wasn’t expecting the speed to show up like it did; he straight blew past the defense on that touchdown scamper that ended in him diving for the pylon and linebacker Mo Barry said he would have still put the moves on even with contact. I thought he looked comfortable and confident in the pocket (knowing he can’t get hit probably helps) and looked like a guy that can do everything that’s going to be asked of him. Close to a 100/100 game in his first real live action against a college defense? Sign me up.
After seeing the spring game, is Nebraska’s starter already on the roster or should the Huskers look to the transfer market?
BV: I came into today assuming there were more potential problems for Nebraska if it wanted to add a transfer than potential advantages. I feel even more strongly about that now. The Huskers have a quarterback on the roster, we just don’t know which one yet.
GS: The spring game actually swayed me on this. Coming into the day I would have said the Huskers needed to look hard at adding a transfer QB even if it wasn’t one currently in Columbus, Ohio. After the game, I see the potential for a four-year starter and that player is currently on the roster.
JP: With the current state of the team and with the revamping process just getting started, I think it would be a better move to go with a young guy and take any lumps that might come with that. Let the roster grow together under the guidance of Frost and his staff. If adding a transfer would mean the difference between winning the West and simply making it to a bowl game, then maybe Frost should consider it. But I don’t think that is the case at this stage.
DP: The guy that everyone wants to name hasn’t even announced if he’s going to transfer; so there’s that. But even if that particular guy was on the market, Nebraska had three really strong performances from all three of its eligible guys today (don’t you forget about Andrew Bunch) and I feel secure in saying the best guy for this season is on the roster and the quarterback of the future is on the roster.
How would you order the depth chart following the game?
BV: Martinez, Gebbia, Bunch. I think it’s still close between Martinez and Gebbia, with Gebbia needing to “catch up” in the run-game aspect. Martinez, on one day in the spring without totally live bullets flying, looked not just adequate in that phase, but potentially excellent.
GS: Martinez, Gebbia, Bunch. Would there be some potential lumps to be taken in 2018? Sure. Given the age of everyone in the quarterback room, there is potential for that with any choice. Martinez has enormous potential as a true dual-threat in the Frost offense.
JP: Considering how little of spring practice we actually got to see, I think we have to go with Martinez, Gebbia and Bunch, in that order. Martinez’s speed is such a difference-maker. However, Gebbia still has every chance to win this battle in the fall, and I think Bunch proved today that he offers legitimate depth should the injury bug strike.
DP: Martinez, Gebbia, Bunch. I almost feel for Bunch because he put on a pretty nice display today as well, one that’s going to get buried by Martinez and Gebbia’s. I think Gebbia looked pretty good, and he was the one that got the first snap, but Martinez didn’t look like a freshman. That would have been the only thing, in my eyes, that kept him from the top spot.
BV: Not votes for Todd Honas, huh?