On Saturday, Adrian Martinez balled out. Which meant on Monday morning there was plenty of attention coming his way. The true freshman quarterback was named the CFPA Co-National Performer of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards and the co-Big Ten Freshman of the Week by the conference.
When head coach Scott Frost took the podium Monday morning, one of the first questions he was asked was about Martinez’s conference honor.
“Co-Freshman Player of the Week? Who’s the other one?” he asked back, almost taken aback Martinez hadn’t been named the guy outright.
“Oh yeah he deserves it, too,” Frost said as a smile broke across his face.
Frost’s first-year guy played that well.
“We’ve got a good one, for him to be doing what he’s doing at his age, I’ve said it a bunch, but it’s pretty impressive,” Frost said. “I didn’t realize he was 25-of-29 [passing]. Really, [he] had another one that got dropped, their middle of the field safety made a good play on another one and he threw one of them away, so it’s hard to be much more efficient than that. When I was here I didn’t get to throw 29 passes in a game, but there’s no way I would’ve completed 25.”
On a weekend when all the top quarterbacks in the conference played — we’re talking Penn State’s Trace McSorley, Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, Iowa’s Nate Stanley — none had a higher passer grade than Martinez, per PFF. No quarterback in the country had a higher adjusted completion percentage (93.1 percent; accounts for drops, spikes, throw-aways and pressured throws).
The Fresno native is on pace for 2,473 yards and 15 touchdowns through the air, as well as another 711 rushing yards. Those kinds of rushing numbers would be the fifth most by a freshman in one season in program history, regardless of position. He’s on pace for the fourth-best passing campaign in program history, not just by a freshman, but by anyone. With a 66.1 percent completion rate, he’s within striking distance of the best completion rate in a season in program history (Joe Ganz at 67.86 percent in 2008).
Saturday marked the third time in the last four games he has topped 400 yards of offense (276 passing, 125 rushing, 401 total).
“I felt like I did my job, that’s all that’s really asked of me,” he said. “I was efficient out there, helped distribute the ball. Everyone was doing their job and obviously that’s what resulted in such a big offensive game for us.
“I think the award comes when everyone’s doing their job. I think I get a little bit too much credit just because of the position I play.”
To some extent, he’s right. Martinez had his best game of the season, production-wise, in a 41-24 loss to Wisconsin on Oct. 6. He went for 384 passing and another 57 rushing with three scores. Because Nebraska won Saturday (and because of the manner in which it won) there’s plenty of attention to go around.
The Adrian attention, though?
“Deserved,” guard Jerald Foster said. “My boy, he was trippin’. He came up to me after and said, ‘did you see Adrian had  out of 29 completions?’ I was like, that kid is something special and he definitely is.
“If he plays like that, then I am not scared of any team in this conference."
Maybe he shouldn’t be, either. Of Nebraska’s five remaining games, Martinez will face an FCS defense in Bethune-Cookman, an Ohio State pass defense ranked 92nd nationally by S&P+, an Illinois pass defense ranked 126th, a Michigan State pass defense ranked 60th and an Iowa pass defense ranked 27th.
Feels like there are a few spots he can take advantage of.
And it’s not just the offense that’s inspired by Martinez’s play. When he produces at that high a level, it helps out the defense too.
“It’s huge. It gives us a lot of confidence when you know he’s going to go out there and take them down the field like he’s been doing,” senior linebacker Luke Gifford said. “We’ve known he could be like that since he got here on campus and the last couple weeks he has been. He’s looked like a four-year starter out there.
“Adrian’s a heck of a player, he’s only going to get better and we’re really excited to keep playing with him.”
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.