Cool-headed. Mature. Incredible. Elite.
The praise for Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez were tossed around by coaches and teammates almost as frequently as Martinez connecting with open receivers during the Huskers’ 53-28 win Saturday over Minnesota at Memorial Stadium.
Martinez amassed 401 total yards and four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) as the Nebraska offense put up video-game numbers while picking up its first win of the season.
The 18-year old true freshman was quick to give a shout-out to teammates and coaches, saying the success wouldn’t be possible without them.
“A big credit to our coaches and the guys I have around me,” Martinez said. “They make it really easy. Guys like Stanley (Morgan) and JD (Spielman), I mean, I think I’m in a great situation.”
Though Martinez’ growth had been evident through the first half of the season, Saturday marked a record-setting day for Martinez.
He eclipsed 400 yards of offense for the third time in six starts. That ties him for the Nebraska individual career record with Joe Ganz.
His final tally was 25-of-29 through the air for 276 yards. Morgan was the recipient of two Martinez TD throws. The final one covered 67 yards as the Huskers upped their advantage to 46-22 in the fourth quarter.
Morgan said Martinez has been wise beyond his years ever since he stepped foot on campus last January.
“That guy … he’s been so mature,” Morgan said. “He’s been a leader since Day One in the huddle. That kid’s gonna be real special in the future.”
The future is now if you ask Gophers coach P.J. Fleck.
Fleck got an up-close look at Martinez and wasn’t shy about heaping praise on the freshman.
“I think he’s one of the better players in the country already,” Fleck said. “There’s a reason why he flipped (from Tennessee to) here. He knew he could come in and play, start and create his legacy that he’s going to leave for Nebraska football.
“He’s so fast, he’s so quick, he’s bigger than you think and he can hurt you in many ways.”
A week after losing a double-digit lead late against Northwestern, Martinez and the Huskers vowed to close the deal this time around.
After Minnesota strung 22 consecutive points together to creep within 28-22, the Husker offense answered the call as Martinez led scoring drives on the ensuing three possessions.
A timely 35-yard scoring strike to Morgan made it 36-22. And after the Blackshirts turned away the Gophers on fourth-and-goal, Martinez led a 14-play, 82-yard drive that ended in a Barret Pickering field goal.
Morgan found himself running free as Martinez hit him in stride on the third play of the next series to push the margin to 24.
“That’s the great thing about this offense is having a lot of weapons,” Martinez said. "Our O-line played great today. They’re underrated in the job they’ve done and the yards we’ve put up. Today we translated all those yards into points.”
With the offense putting up season-highs in points and yards, it’s no surprise that Martinez — who joined Devine Ozigbo and Maurice Washington in topping 100 yards rushing with 125 — was having the time of his life.
“For sure,” he said when asked if he was having fun. “When you go out there and are playing in front of 90,000, it’s impossible not to.
Said Ozigbo: “He’s (Martinez) playing at an elite level. He’s keeping his cool and has command of the huddle. I’m so proud of him.
“He’s only going to get better.”