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Nebraska football spring practice
Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Verduzco’s Goal for Martinez and Other Quick Hits from Husker Practice

April 05, 2021

It was the offense’s turn to take the proverbial podium on Monday, as QB coach Mario Verduzco, tailback coach Ryan Held, quarterback Adrian Martinez, wideout Levi Falck, tight end Travis Vokolek, and linemen Bryce Benhart and Turner Corcoran met with the media after practice. 

We’ll have more on each coming later, but here are the quick hits and highlights from the day:

>> “Just gotta take care of the damn football.” That’s the main message from Verduzco in spring ball. Asked what he wants to see from Martinez—Nebraska’s presumed starter—Verduzco said that was it. Martinez added later that he likes where he’s at from an interception standpoint—he can still clean up the decision-making, he said—but the fumbles are a big emphasis. Martinez admitted he’s hurt his team with his ball security. The season-finale last year against Rutgers, Verduzco said, was Martinez at his best and worst. 

>> Held said players have to “pay rent” after practice for fumbles. We’re talking pushups and other various strenuous activities. 

>> Martinez called new wideout Samori Toure “level-headed.” Falck, whose former FCS team played against Toure’s two seasons ago, said Toure is just “really good.” 

>> Nebraska’s offense as a whole has placed an emphasis on the vertical passing game and creating more explosives through the air. Martinez said they’re repping it in practice more and Falck added that they’ve been better so far to start the spring at connecting on those deep shots than they were in preseason practices last year. 

The wideouts have watched a few select NFL wideouts this offseason to try and help with creating separation late in a route, Falck said. They’ve looked at Julio Jones, Jerry Jeudy, and Dez Bryant.

>> Vokolek and Austin Allen are the leaders of the tight end room. Vokolek is even taking a leadership class this semester to help in that area. 

>> Nebraska begins every practice with special teams drills right now. Falck said it’s a slight change from last year, when practices opened with team tempo work and special teams stuff came later. 

>> Offensive line coach Greg Austin appears to have a catchphrase this spring: details, explosiveness, and anger. Finishing blocks through the whistle is a big emphasis, as Austin said last week. Both Benhart and Corcoran mentioned Austin’s approach. Nebraska has dialed tempo back a bit in practice to fine-tune the details of plays.

>> Running back Sevion Morrison, Held said, was pushing for playing time last season—his first year on campus—before a bout with COVID shut him down for three weeks. When he was allowed to return to team activities with just one week left in the season, Held said at that point it made more sense to just hold him. Morrison didn’t appear in a game last year, but Held has said before he likes the young back’s talent.

>>Of Markese Stepp, the USC transfer at running back, Held called him a downhill runner. Which is good, considering Nebraska has tweaked some of its concepts to get its backs running downhill a bit quicker. Held said they’re focused on footwork.

>>“No hard feelings,” Martinez said when asked about transfers out of the program this offseason. He appreciated the relationships formed with Luke McCaffrey—and the competition McCaffrey pushed last season, Martinez said the experience and the adversity was good for him—and Wan’Dale Robinson. He’s excited about the guys on his team.

>> Martinez laughed and said “I’m good” when asked if he’d reveal what his 40-yard-dash time was during the Huskers’ recent testing, but he did say he’s leaned out a little this offseason, wanting to regain that first-step explosiveness he had as a freshman. Martinez said he was a little too heavy particularly in his sophomore year, heavy in the sense that he noticed a drop in his quickness.

>> Arm feels good—and Falck said it looks good—and Martinez is fully healthy.

>> Held has everyone available to him in his room right now. The running back coach is happy about that.

Check back for more from Monday’s practice throughout the day.

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