Questions Surround Nebraska's Quarterbacks Before and After Indiana
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Questions Surround Nebraska’s Quarterbacks Before and After Indiana

October 27, 2019

There was one big question heading into Saturday’s matchup with Indiana: who would start at quarterback for Nebraska? And it was quite the question to have for Coach Scott Frost and his staff.

Adrian Martinez spent part of Saturday’s game warming up on the Nebraska sideline. He’d toss a ball to a graduate assistant about 10 or so yards away and wait for the ball to be handed back to him by backup quarterback Andrew Bunch.

Martinez was the “projected starter” for the day, or at least the video board said so. He was suited up and went through warmups. It looked promising for the Huskers’ leading man.

He had been sidelined for the Huskers since the Oct. 5 matchup with Northwestern when he suffered some kind of left leg injury. It seemed like a good sign to see him back on the field, especially after a sitting out the matchup against Minnesota and having the bye week to rest and recover. But by the time Nebraska took the field for the first snap on offense, Noah Vedral was the first man up.

Frost said he knew who the starter would be after Thursday’s practice. He wouldn’t say anything more, but he had his answer. Whatever it was.

We can’t say who that player was on Thursday unless Frost tells us, but it doesn’t matter anyway. Vedral was the guy on Saturday. He completed 14-of-16 passes for 201 yards and rushed for another 21 yards and two touchdowns.

And it was a good day for Vedral. Until it wasn’t. Vedral had to be helped off the field after an 8-yard run in the second quarter and Nebraska was trailing 16-14.

Enter true freshman Luke McCaffrey.

“Our quarterbacks are three guys that are tough and what we want,” Frost said about Martinez, Vedral and McCaffrey. “I think people got a chance to see that. I didn't know the stats but Luke was 5-of-6, Noah was 14-of-16. I thought we had a game plan that gave them opportunities to make plays with their legs. I think they did a great job, both of them.

“Right now we've got three injured quarterbacks, nicked up guys, so I don't know where that's gonna leave us on Monday but I thought those guys laid it all out there."

McCaffrey ended the day 5-of-6, as Frost said, for 71 passing yards and one touchdown. He had another 76 yards on the ground over 12 carries. While McCaffrey did all that he could to keep Nebraska in the game, Indiana didn’t go away and McCaffrey was nicked up himself. As the Huskers’ final drive of the game loomed, the questions started.

Would Frost pull Martinez in to play?

“Yeah, Adrian was an option and right at the end there,” Frost said. “We were kinda laughing even though it was the heat of the moment. Luke went down and Noah wasn't supposed to go back in and I look at [head football athletic trainer] Mark [Mayer], Noah and Adrian and said, ‘Which one of these guys is less hurt?’

“And they both wanted to go in and could've gone in but both definitely weren't 100%. They're both tough."

The Huskers needed 93 yards on that last drive, they had 6:36 to do it and Frost was on the sideline trying to figure out which quarterback was less injured. He settled on Vedral.

“[I felt] good enough,” Vedral said post-game. “Coach Frost just wanted to know if I could do what he needed me to do and that situation I told him I could and he let me go out there."

Nebraska ran just over three minutes off the clock on that drive, but the drive ended on a fourth down in Hoosiers’ territory. Indiana would get the ball back and that was essentially that.

It’s an interesting dilemma to look at now, but hindsight is always 20/20. Regardless, in a possible game-tying moment for Nebraska, Frost was left to ask another—although very different—question in evaluation of his quarterbacks.

Which one is less hurt?

What a question to end a game on.

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