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Nebraska football coach Scott Frost says he thinks his program "is ready to turn a big-time corner."
Just by that assessment alone, one can surmise he feels good about the quarterback position.
That said, junior Adrian Martinez, a 22-game starter at the position, feels he can improve on his performance in Nebraska's 52-17 season-opening loss at Ohio State.
“I think we’ve officially set a record for the most practices with one game under our belt in the history of college football," Frost said.
Frost said a straw poll in Monday morning’s team meeting revealed that the majority of the Huskers have either already voted or will do so Tuesday.
"There were a couple throws I wish I could have back," he said Monday of his 12-for-15 accuracy, for 105 yards and no interceptions. "But overall, I think I was pretty efficient. I want to continue being decisive and continue being a hard runner."
The 6-foot-2, 225-pounder rushed 12 times for 77 yards and looked quicker than last year.
Ah, but there was one major problem.
"Obviously, the turnover was big," he said of a third-quarter fumble that Sevyn Banks returned 55 yards for a touchdown to push Ohio State's lead to 38-14. "It really let them get ahead of us. I don't want to say it put us out of the game. But my fumble was definitely a big moment. I've had trouble in the past with turnovers, and it's something we have to limit in order to be a good team."
Martinez was recruited to Nebraska essentially with the idea that he would help push the program to another level. That's still in play. Now, however, he finds himself in a bit of a unique situation, sharing repetitions at quarterback with redshirt freshman Luke McCaffrey. Against Ohio State, McCaffrey was 4-for-5 passing for 55 yards while leading the team with 87 rushing yards on nine carries. In addition to playing QB, he lined up in the backfield at times as well as at receiver.
McCaffrey likely will play that sort of multiple role going forward. He said last week he's comfortable doing so in part because of his respect for Martinez. He said Martinez took him under his wing when he entered the program as a true freshman.
Said Martinez: "I believe it was the right thing to do simply because I personally care a lot about this program and the culture that we set. So when (McCaffrey) first got here I wanted to make sure I established a good relationship with him and helped him with anything he needed.
"It was pretty apparent right away that Luke was a really smart guy, a hard-working guy. He wasn't going to need a ton of help."
Like Frost, Martinez believes the program is headed in the right direction. But Martinez mentioned the importance of continuing to foster a strong culture. A quarterback obviously can play a lead role in that regard.
In addition to progressing in his own game, Robinson is trying to make sure NU's next wave of receivers is ready to get on the field.
Let's face it, though, winning is the bottom line.
To that end, Frost has locked in hard in his study of Northwestern's defense, which has forced seven turnovers in two games — wins against Maryland (43-3) and Iowa (21-20).
"They (Northwestern) kind of whipped us on that side of the ball last year, and they look the same or better this year," he said. "Obviously, their offense through two games is doing a lot better than they did last year, and looks pretty good to me. But they're always going to be a smart, physical, disciplined team on both sides of the ball.
"The defense has been good since I've been in the league, so we'll have our work cut out for us."
Said Martinez: "We're going to have to match them physically and be detailed in our work."
Frost spoke of the challenge of managing his players' emotions through the ups and downs of having a season canceled, then be back on. Last week was its own roller-coaster ride, with Wisconsin pulling out of a scheduled game because of a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases in the program. Nebraska, for a period of hours, thought maybe it could play Tennessee-Chattanooga in place of UW, but that game was shut down by the Big Ten.
"The kids are kind of like I am," Frost said. "They're kind of callous to the whole thing."
More than anything, he said, they want to play.
Martinez seems to stay upbeat, although he acknowledged Nebraska pushes forward with a chip on its shoulder.
He said he feels good about the team's attitude, saying players have become adept at adjusting on the fly.
"We're going to keep chugging along," he said.
Frost obviously feels good about his team's mindset.
"I think our program is ready to turn a big-time corner," he said. "But it's tough if we're given circumstances where we can't get on the field and get better. I think our kids are anxious to get back out there and try to compete to win a game. "