Idaho State vs. Nebraska, 9.22.12

Former Nebraska graduate assistants T.J. Hollowell (left) and Joe Ganz speak before a game in 2012.

Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez doesn't trust just anyone.

He does trust Joe Ganz.

"I'm glad he comes to me and respects my opinion enough to where he values what I have to say," Ganz says. "He has respect for what I've done and how I played the game.

"So he wants to know what I see. He knows we're up here (at North Stadium) all night studying film."

Ganz, the former Nebraska record-setting quarterback (2004-08) and current graduate assistant, grinds away with the nine full-time Husker assistant coaches. Graduate assistants work roughly the same hours as the full-time coaches, he says.

"I mean, I can do pretty much everything they do, but I don't have that pretty bank account at the end of the day," Ganz says with a grin.

A 26-year-old native of Palos Heights, Ill., Ganz might be one of the nation's most high-profile graduate assistants. He gets plenty of television time because he's often the first person Martinez seeks out on the sideline.

"I can relate to what he's going through, to a certain extent," says Ganz, who in 2008 set single-season school records for passing yards, completions and total offense for a team that finished 9-4. "Now, he got crucified more than I ever did in the papers and by the fans ...

"But I understand the pressure."

Martinez seeks out Ganz on the sideline to pick his brain about what the coach saw on a particular play. Even on successful plays, Martinez wants to know if he made the right read, Ganz says.

Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck calls plays from the press box. Beck, Ganz and Martinez must communicate well for the offense to click. Martinez also has a great relationship with Beck.

From my perspective, Martinez appears calm in basically every situation, even during those tense, late-game rallies that are becoming relatively common.

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"He's consistent," Ganz says. "Regardless if he throws a pick or a touchdown, he's the same way. Some people look at him after he throws a pick and say, 'Oh, he doesn't care.' But he's the same way when he throws a touchdown -- that's what people don't understand.

"As a quarterback, you want to be consistent. You don't want to have high 'ups' and low 'downs.'"

Ganz clearly likes and respects Martinez, saying the junior from California has "come a long way as both a player and person.

"He needs to feel trust in people in order to open up," Ganz says. "And I think he's become a lot more trusting of us as coaches and his teammates. You see the real Taylor now out on the field and in the meeting room.

"He's a funny kid, just a normal 21-year-old. But a lot of people don't get to see that because he doesn't open up to people he doesn't trust."

He trusts Ganz. You can see it clearly on TV, during those sideline shots of the two conversing.

Yeah, that's a lot of tube time for a G.A.

"I'm used to the pressure, so I can handle it," Ganz says with a smile.

Thumbs up to Nebraska's quiet-but-productive defensive line, particularly as it relates to sacks and tackles for loss. The linemen heard plenty of criticism last season for the Huskers' lack of sacks and TFLs. This season, NU is tied with Penn State for the Big Ten lead in sacks with 24 (Husker linemen have accounted for 13 1/2, including Eric Martin's 6 1/2). What's more, the Huskers rank 32nd nationally with 70 TFLs, the linemen accounting for 32 (including Martin's 11).

Thumbs up II to Bo Pelini's handling of the caller who phoned the coach's radio show Wednesday night to upbraid Pelini about his fiery sideline demeanor. Bo stayed calm. He admitted he's lost his cool a couple times on the sideline but has made adjustments in his approach. However, he said, you can't change who you are completely. Kudos to Bo for taking the question head-on.

Numbers crunch

487.3. Nebraska's average of 487.3 yards of total offense per game is on track for the Huskers' highest output since averaging 513.7 in 1997.

Reach Steven M. Sipple at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com.


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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