Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez fires of an incomplete pass in the fourth quarter of the Huskers' game against Southern Mississippi at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012.

ERIC GREGORY/Lincoln Journal Star

Things I know and think I know:

Taylor Martinez could be throwing left-handed, and I may or may not notice.

I'm hardly qualified to judge his throwing fundamentals.

Steve Calhoun is eminently qualified.

A Los Angeles-area quarterbacks coach who tutored Martinez extensively in the offseason, Calhoun watched only highlights of the Nebraska QB's clinical performance Saturday against Southern Miss.

He saw enough to form an impression.

"His balance looked great," Calhoun said Sunday. "And his throwing motion was just cleaner — nice and fluid. He wasn't pushing the ball. He had his elbow up. I mean, he looked good."

Calhoun played quarterback for New Mexico State in the early 1990s and has worked closely with QBs since 2004. Cam Newton and Jake Locker are former pupils, according to Calhoun's website. He tutored current starting quarterbacks at Cal, Nevada and Washington.

He worked with Martinez for three days during the spring and three weeks this summer.

Even a layman can understand Calhoun's comment about the importance of Martinez's elbow staying above his shoulder when he throws. Anybody who watched Martinez last season often saw his elbow dip. The result was a motion that was at times unsightly. What's more, when a QB's elbow is low, his passes tend to sail above targets.

Calhoun chuckled when asked if he had envisioned Martinez's torrid opening act — 26-for-34 for 354 yards and five touchdowns.

C'mon, who could have envisioned that?

"I knew he was capable," Calhoun said. "I know he's been focused. He worked all spring, all summer. He'll still call me a lot and say, 'This is what I've worked on, what do you think?' He really bought in to what I've taught him."

It's difficult to gauge the strength of Southern Miss' secondary. The Golden Eagles returned four starters — including two in the secondary — from last season's defense that ranked seventh nationally in pass-efficiency defense.

It wasn't difficult to gauge Martinez's proficiency. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound junior showed nice touch on short passes, the right loft on deep throws, nice zip when necessary and hit receivers in stride. His arm strength has never been an issue.

One aspect to watch going forward is Martinez's relationship with Nebraska graduate assistant Joe Ganz.

Calhoun said Martinez bounces ideas off Ganz, who holds Nebraska single-season records for passing yards (3,568) and total offense (3,826).

A dozen reporters surrounded Ganz following Saturday's game.

Taylor is becoming a "true leader," Ganz said.

"He's put in his work," the coach said. "Guys really respect what he did this summer, going back to California and working out and working out here all summer. He's got a long way to go, but I'm very proud of what he did (Saturday)."

Martinez wasn't perfect; he missed a couple of reads and nearly threw a pick-6.

He won't complete 76.5 percent of his passes every game.

However, "He was calm in the pocket," Ganz said. "He got his depth, and his footwork was good, which leads to accuracy. You always hear about his throwing motion. He has worked hard to change that.

"When his feet are right and he's calm in the pocket, he's tough to stop."

* Anybody else notice Ganz's profile rising? It likely will continue to ascend. Remember Shawn Watson raving about Ganz's improvisational skills and ability to grasp and communicate the offense as Nebraska's starter in 2008?

According to our own Brent Wagner's sideline report, Ganz was one of the most vocal sideline coaches Saturday and was drawing formations for the receivers and quarterbacks.

"Between me, Taylor and (offensive coordinator) Tim Beck, we're always talking about what we see, what possible checks we can go to, what looks are good to throw into and which ones are bad — just trying to avoid negative plays.

"Taylor has freedom to make checks. We made a couple from the sideline, but he made some great adjustments on the fly. That's just him growing as a player."

* If you can't beat 'em … Michigan State is using an SEC formula: average quarterback, strong running game and rugged defense. Did I mention the average quarterback?

Andrew Maxwell wasn't the QB last season, when the Spartans defeated Georgia in the Outback Bowl.

* Big win, obviously, for Frank Solich's Ohio team. The Bobcats won Saturday at Penn State despite recently losing three starters in the secondary. Solich really likes his offensive line, which battered the Nittany Lions' front four.

Solich, 67, showed little emotion when Ohio scored the clinching touchdown. After the game, his players stayed under control, he said. Probably a good sign.

* I tweeted it once and I'll say it again: If the Oregon Ducks want to wear uniforms befitting a low-level arena-league team, I guess that's their business.

Reach Steven M. Sipple at 402-473-7440 or


Husker columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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