Red report: Turnovers still a bugaboo for Martinez, offense

2012-10-15T19:00:00Z 2012-10-15T23:50:03Z Red report: Turnovers still a bugaboo for Martinez, offenseBy BRIAN CHRISTOPHERSON AND BRIAN ROSENTHAL / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

Nebraska has turned the ball over 15 times through six games. Of 120 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision, only six have more turnovers.

Surely a worry within Husker camp, right?

“I think everyone on the whole team is -- especially Coach (Tim) Beck and Coach Bo (Pelini),” junior quarterback Taylor Martinez said Monday. “I think if we don’t turn over the ball we should be undefeated right now.”

Martinez had all four turnovers in the Ohio State game -- three interceptions and a fumble. He also had another fumble inside the NU 15-yard line that the Huskers were incredibly lucky to recover. A Buckeye tried to scoop and score and failed in the attempt, allowing tight end Ben Cotton to fall on the ball.

Asked about the three picks, Martinez credited Ohio State defensive back Bradley Roby for making a good play on the first one. Martinez said Kenny Bell was interfered with on the second one. And he said the third one, a pass intended for Steven Osborne inside the Buckeye 10, came from him just trying to make a play with the score 49-31.

“Because we were down 18 points at the point already,” Martinez said. “So (you) gotta try to make something happen."

About some of his recent fumbles, he said: “It’s kind of hard if you’re getting hit from the back and without seeing someone, so I don't know.”

When asked which turnovers this season he could look at on film and consider his fault, Martinez paused and said, “I don’t know, I’m not really sure.”

Is Martinez being too reluctant to take responsibility for turnovers?

“You’re probably reading too much into it,” offensive coordinator Beck said in response to Martinez’s comments. “I know he feels bad about (the turnovers). There were some things I know he wishes he had back again. He would probably make some different decisions."

Beck didn’t seem concerned about wanting Martinez to take more responsibility publicly for his turnovers.

“Who knows? It’s kind of one of those deals that, unfortunately, whether we win or lose, it’s all on him regardless of what happens,” Beck said. “It doesn’t make any difference. When you win, he’s the catalyst. When you lose, he’s the fault. I mean, it is what it is. For three years, he’s been going through it. Sometimes I think it gets to be annoying.”

* MARLOWE RETURNS: Senior wide receiver Tim Marlowe has been cleared to play and returned to practice Monday, more than six weeks after he suffered a broken collarbone in Nebraska’s season-opening victory against Southern Miss.

“I just have to be careful diving for balls and stuff,” he said. “It’s full go.”

Marlowe is returning about a week ahead of schedule. He’s been going through rehabilitation about two hours every day, with everything from shoulder workouts to pool workouts and running.

“It’s been a long rehab,” Marlowe said, “but I’m excited to be back this week.”

What are Pelini’s plans now for Marlowe?

“Play him,” the coach said. “He’s a good player and we are excited that Tim is back.”

* BURKHEAD BACK: Senior running back Rex Burkhead didn’t participate in Nebraska’s three practices during the bye week but returned to the practice field Monday and said he expects to play Saturday at Northwestern.

Burkhead left early in the second half of the loss at Ohio State after he said he “tweaked” his same knee in which he sprained the MCL in the season opener. That initial injury caused him to miss two games, and he returned Sept. 22 against Idaho State.

Burkhead said the most recent injury wasn’t as serious.

Pelini said Burkhead is “doing well” and had a good weekend.

“We’ll kind of ease him into it,” Pelini said. “I’m not sure if it will be a heavy workload early in the week, but it will progress to that.”

* ESPN2 WILL TELEVISE MICHIGAN GAME: Nebraska's Oct. 27 game against Michigan will be televised by ESPN2 (Time Warner Cable channel 35) and will kick off at 7 p.m. 

* MORE TOUGHNESS: Sophomore running back Ameer Abdullah said that against Ohio State, the Huskers didn’t play as tough as they normally do, and that they need to find a spark to re-energize for a mentally and physically grinding season.

“I practice with these guys every week. I know how tough we are,” Abdullah said. “I know what we can bring to the field, and I feel like some games, we don’t bring that. When we do bring that, I feel like we’re a very tough team. I’m just hoping everybody’s coming to compete this week in practice and really bring that toughness.”

Specifically, Abdullah said Nebraska wasn’t tough enough on kickoff returns vs. the Buckeyes.

“I feel we got beat physically,” he said. “Physically, they beat us to the point of attack. We weren’t really sustaining blocks as long, and their kicker, he was hanging it up there pretty high. They did a various amount of things, but I feel like we just didn’t play tough enough.”

Abdullah averaged a mere 16 yards on eight kickoff returns and only once advanced the ball past the Nebraska 25.

“That’s something we’ve really got to change this week, because we can’t put our offense in drives when we’re starting on the 6-yard line,” he said. “That’s too hard.”

Reach Brian Rosenthal at 402-473-7436 or brosenthal@journalstar.com. You can follow him on Twitter @HuskerExtraBR.

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