Jeremiah Sirles was part of the same recruiting class as Taylor Martinez.

And like Martinez, he’s been starting games for Nebraska since his redshirt freshman season.

So just try to guess how many questions the junior offensive tackle has been asked about the quarterback these past few years.

“I’m sure the number is in the good 100s,” Sirles said.

Everyone always wants to know about Taylor.

The big man doesn’t mind. Not usually.

“Sometimes I get tired of the negative questions that people ask about him,” Sirles said. “I have no problem answering positive questions about him, because I think he’s a positive guy on our team.”

Four games into the 2012 season, even the toughest Martinez critic would have a hard time not seeing the positive moves made by the junior signal-caller.

Yes, there is the fourth quarter against UCLA that Martinez and the entire Husker offense would like to have back.

But it’s very difficult to find fault with Martinez from a numbers standpoint right now. He’s currently 10th nationally in passing efficiency, having completed 70.7 percent of his attempts, with nine touchdown passes to just one interception.

“People snickered when I said Taylor is going to make a big jump this year, and he has,” Husker coach Bo Pelini said Monday. “I saw it through the spring. I saw it in practice through fall camp, and he just needs to stay on the same track. If he keeps playing the way he is, and we expect him to, it makes our offense pretty hard to stop.”

While Martinez’s statistics haven’t exactly come against stellar competition, they're numbers no one could have guessed a year ago, when Martinez had a rough night at Wisconsin, throwing three interceptions in a span of six minutes to spur the Badgers to a 48-17 win.

Yep, that was his low point, Martinez agreed Monday, five days before he sees those same Badgers for Round II.

You can be sure the quarterback has studied that game film a time, or two, or more. Put money on more.

“Just to see what I’m doing, what I did wrong ... what I can learn from my mistakes and get better at," Martinez said.

Wisconsin caught Nebraska off-guard with some unexpected secondary coverages, he said.

Martinez and NU failed to respond the right way that night.

But his response to that poor performance might ultimately be the biggest takeaway.

A week after that ugly night, Martinez played one of the best games of his Husker career, helping rally the Huskers from a three-touchdown deficit to beat Ohio State 34-27.

In the postgame locker room, a game ball was his reward, a roar from his teammates serving as the soundtrack.

“I’ve always known he’s resilient like that,” Sirles said. “He’s always been resilient. He doesn’t really care what a lot of other people think about him, because he knows how good he is and we know how good he is. And I think that speaks leaps and bounds about that kid.”

Martinez will likely have his share of school records when he leaves, maybe even putting some in his pocket before this season is over.

But the truth, fair or not, is that quarterbacks at Nebraska are often judged on winning championships.

So begins the pursuit of one Saturday, as NU starts its journey to end a 13-year conference championship drought.

“Really excited,” Martinez said. “Just showing how strong of a team we are and how far we’ve come.”

And perhaps provide another example of how far he’s come.

While Martinez has showed improvement, Pelini said the quarterback still isn’t at the level coaches want him to be at yet.

Pelini was asked if it was realistic for Martinez to keep up this rate of play as the competition increases.

"I fully expect him to go up this week,” Pelini answered.

It might not hurt to have a little brotherly love around.

Martinez’s younger brother, Drake Martinez, is likely going to be in town.

A standout running back/free safety at Laguna Beach (Calif.) High School, Drake has a scholarship offer from Nebraska.

In fact, six days after Taylor Martinez scored on a 92-yard touchdown run against UCLA, his brother topped him, taking one 95 yards to the end zone.

“I was kind of upset about that one,” Taylor said with a smile.

The younger Martinez is almost as fast, the quarterback said. Almost.

They raced this summer.

“Close race, I’ll tell you that,” Taylor said. “I beat him, but by the time he gets to college it’s going to be a good race.”

But for this week, he's more interested in outrunning Badgers.

Nebraska fans must like what they've seen so far from Martinez in 2012. But they’re no doubt also hoping Pelini’s words Monday prove accurate.

The part where Pelini said: “I don't think we've seen the best of Taylor yet."

Reach Brian Christopherson at bchristopherson@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. You can follow him on Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.


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