NU football vs. Minnesota, 10/20/18

Nebraska head coach Scott Frost is all smiles after getting drenched by water by Husker players following the team's 53-28 win over Minnesota on Oct. 20 at Memorial Stadium.

Nebraska quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco wasn't sure how to describe the feeling throughout the program regarding the team's first win of the season, a 53-28 triumph against Minnesota last week.

"I was just excited for coach (Scott) Frost," Verduzco said of the program's leader. "I was fired up. I was happy for that to happen." 

Frost took over a program in December that was coming off a 4-8 finish and expected the Huskers to be much better than their current 1-6 record (1-4 Big Ten).

"He's so freakin' competitive that I know this has been a hard stretch for him," Verduzco said. "He certainly has more pressures on and more anxiety about a whole host of things that are different than an assistant. Being a head coach before, I have some sense of what that's about, particularly when things aren't going very well."

Verduzco was head coach at De Anza (California) College in 1994-95.

"What kept (Frost) afloat more than anything was just the improvement that was taking place from an X's and O's standpoint, and from a cultural standpoint."

Stille's decision: Sophomore defensive lineman Ben Stille clarified his decision to reject the Blackshirt that coaches awarded him Tuesday.

The decision wasn't about how he practiced last week as indicated by the Nebraska coaching staff.

"It was really more about the game," Stille said of Saturday. "It didn't sit well with me how I performed. From the definition of what I've been told a Blackshirt was, from Grant (Wistrom) and Jason (Peter) and those guys that have come and talked to us, it just didn't sit well with me putting that jersey on if I didn't feel like I had lived up to it in a game.

"I definitely wanted it to be something I earned."

A 6-foot-5, 290-pound native of Ashland, Stille had two tackles against the Gophers, including his team's only sack. He felt he could've given more effort when he was on the backside of a couple plays.

"I wasn't going to put that (Blackshirt) on and fake it in front of my peers and closest brothers that were in the film room with me," Stille said.

Walters praises Martinez: A few eyebrows were perhaps raised Tuesday when Frost said freshman Adrian Martinez is playing as well as any quarterback he’s coached.

Wednesday, Nebraska’s offensive coordinator agreed.

“He’s playing with a lot of confidence, a lot of poise. Any time you can go the whole game and have four or five incompletions — I know one was a drop by (Stanley Morgan), another one could have been a pass interference call. So he played almost a perfect game. As a true freshman that’s pretty special,” Troy Walters said. “It always helps when the offensive line, they’re doing their job protecting him, opening up running lanes. Any time you can run for over 300 yards it’s going to help a quarterback. We’re getting open on the perimeter. So all those factors contribute to Adrian having the success he’s having.

Verduzco said Martinez has steadily improved but still can perfect various details of his game. Against Minnesota, Martinez was 25-for-29 passing for 276 yards and three touchdowns. In addition, he carried 15 times for 125 yards and another score.

Verduzco noted Martinez, on a second-and-19 play, picked a "gimme throw" when he could've zipped a longer pass. So, yeah, there are always details to think about. That's where Verduzco comes in.

"He did a nice job, but we have a lot of football to play in coming weeks," Verduzco said. "I'll challenge him again to see if it was luck or a freak of nature, or that sort of thing, just to keep him grounded.

"I'm hard on him," the coach added. "In my own little, goofy way, I'm hard on him about everything. About his body posture, about his body language, about his feet, about his eyeballs. I drive him nuts."

Vedral or Bunch: Once again, the question arose: If Martinez goes to the bench for whatever reason Saturday, which backup quarterback — Andrew Bunch or Noah Vedral — would enter the game at that point. "As I would anticipate right now, I would think it would be Andrew, but obviously that's a decision for coach Frost," Verduzco said. "I know at some particular point we'd like to get Noah some reps in a game. That'd be awesome. I think coach Frost intends to do that."

Vedral, a sophomore from Wahoo, was granted a waiver by the NCAA to be immediately eligible on Oct. 12, so his reps with the top units is limited.

Steven M. Sipple and Chris Basnett

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.


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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