OMAHA — Joe Ganz is proud of the relationship between Taylor Martinez and the coaches that has led to some positive changes for the Nebraska junior quarterback.
A key relationship includes offensive coordinator Tim Beck and Ganz, a graduate assistant coach and former Husker QB who now works with the quarterbacks.
“We trust each other a lot, and that’s a big thing for Taylor,” Ganz told a crowd of about 300 fans Friday at the Big Red Breakfast. “He’s a little shut off if he doesn’t trust you. Once you gain his trust, then he opens up to you. He’s a great kid and is just like you and I. That’s one thing Coach Beck and I found out, is once we gained his trust we can ask him to do anything, and be as hard on him as we want to be.”
During position meetings, Martinez asks more questions than previous seasons, in order to better understand how to make the best decisions, Ganz said.
The rest of the Huskers gained a lot of respect for Martinez by how hard he worked during the offseason.
“Taylor is going out to eat with the guys, and they’re forming a circle around him so nobody comes and talks to him,” he said. “They’re really close, and you can see on the field that they want success for each other.”
Last week against Southern Miss, Martinez passed for 354 yards and five touchdowns.
Still, the coaches have let Martinez know he can improve on the success of the first game. Ganz made a tape for Martinez of plays from last week’s game that he could have made a better decision, or improved his mechanics.
Ganz showed an example of one such play.
“The things that get (Martinez) in trouble is sometimes, we call it he javelins it, or shut puts it — I’m not a track guy,” Ganz said. “He’ll throw it and finish (his followthrough) like he just threw a javelin, and that’s bad. You see sometimes last year, especially on deep balls to Kenny Bell, that they’d have to wait for it to come down and kind of slow up. That’s because he doesn’t finish; he’s not driving the ball through the air. He’s floating it and it kind of hangs up there. He’s done a really good job of not doing that, except this time he does.
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“As a quarterback, you’re taught to get your thumb into your opposite hip pocket. Even on deep balls, that’s what brings the nose down and makes you drive the ball through the air. ... Every time that happens, the ball is short and behind. That’s one thing we’ve been working on him with, especially his deep throws. Really focus on that finish.”
And now, some quick hitters from Ganz:
* The coaches are trying to get plays in for the offense as quick as possible, because that's tough to defend, especially when the Huskers’ backs and receivers are constantly changing.
Last week, Nebraska averaged about 10 seconds to get a play signaled in and snapped.
“I feel bad for our linemen,” Ganz said. “To play at this tempo and this pace, they do not like it. Those big nasties like to take their time getting up there and we’re screaming at them to get set. They don’t like it, but it helps them. As tired as we are, the defense is twice as tired.”
* A fan asked Ganz if freshman QB Tommy Armstrong would redshirt this season, and Ganz said that’s probably what the coaches would prefer.
“We only want him to get experience if we truly need him to in meaningful games,” he said. “God forbid that Taylor gets hurt for an extended period of time, Ron Kellogg right now is the backup. If Taylor would be out for an extended time, I think those two would be battling it week-to-week to see who was playing.”
* Ganz was asked about running the option. He said it’s still in the playbook.
"We could attack (Southern Miss) with better plays than the option. … I know it hurts for you guys to hear that, but there were some better plays,” he said.