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Steven M. Sipple: Martinez, offensive line exchange some words, and light a needed spark
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Steven M. Sipple: Martinez, offensive line exchange some words, and light a needed spark
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Steven M. Sipple: Martinez, offensive line exchange some words, and light a needed spark

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Nebraska rolled past Fordham in the home opener. Listen to Huskers head coach Scott Frost speak to the media after the game Saturday.

Maybe you were among the Nebraska football fans relaxing Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

There's a bit more room to stretch out these days, am I right? 

On the field, there was some fire. Perhaps you missed it, but Husker junior quarterback Adrian Martinez and the offensive line exchanged some words early in the game. 

That sounds like football, and progress. 

"They're the key to this offense, and they brought it today," Martinez said of the offensive line following Nebraska's 52-7 win against Fordham. "We got in each other's grills a bit, and I loved it. That's what we need. We need more of it, and we brought the energy out of each other. Those guys stepped to the plate. That's what we need as a team, that's what we needed today, and that's what we're going to need going forward." 

"We love each other, right?" he added. "We called each other out." 

Step it up. Bring more juice. That was the nature of the conversation. 

"It goes both ways, is all I was trying to say," Martinez said.

Point taken. By both sides, apparently. Nebraska's offensive line started slow, but eventually found ample steam, as the Huskers rushed 65 times for 329 yards (5.1 yards per carry) and six touchdowns. You can question the opponent's level of play, but it's hard to question NU's commitment to the run in this game. 

Nebraska's commitment to the run, or lack thereof, was a hot topic in Husker Nation last week following a season-opening loss to Illinois. Perhaps NU's run blocking, or lack thereof, was a hot topic on the sideline early on Saturday, if you know what I mean. 

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Speaking of hot topics, Martinez also struggled last week against Illinois, especially with his throwing accuracy (16-for-32). He comes under heavy fire on social media. Sometimes he makes himself a somewhat easy target. But, hey, some of the criticism gets ridiculous. 

Some of my criticism gets ridiculous. I caught myself nitpicking Martinez in the second quarter before noticing he was 6-for-7 for 133 yards during the period.

He finished the game a cool 17-for-23 for 254 yards and one touchdown, with zero interceptions for the second straight game. He also rushed eight times for 33 yards and two touchdowns. He fumbled once, but his team recovered. 

You can nitpick Martinez all day long, but this was progress. That's right, the win was progress for Martinez, and progress for the program.

Granted, it wasn't a lot of progress, but Nebraska as a program will take what it can get right now. 

Nebraska (1-1) even played OK for the most part on special teams, save for Cam Taylor-Britt's muffed punt and some more short kickoff returns. Taylor-Britt tried unsuccessfully to catch the ball off the bounce. The gaffe comes on the heels of his colossal special-teams error last week.

The coaching staff benched him this time. Rest assured, he'll recover quickly. He's a captain. He's one of the team's best all-around players, if not the best. His teammates need him, and he'll be there for them.

You certainly can say that about Martinez. I'll even say it for you, if necessary, even as I nitpick his game. 

He was making it easy to nitpick him during the first quarter as he air-mailed a routine swing pass and then misfired to an open Wyatt Liewer on a deep route. 

Perhaps that's when an offensive lineman or two got in his grill. That's healthy. Nothing wrong with a little straight talk in those moments.

It was needed Saturday as Fordham (0-1) had a crowd of 85,938 on edge in the second quarter, trailing just 10-7. 

A blocked field goal by Nebraska senior safety Marquel Dismuke led to a Husker touchdown drive to push the lead to 17-7.

Then, an interception by Nebraska senior safety Deontai Williams led to another touchdown drive to push the lead to 24-7 with 29 seconds left in the first half. 

Ah, suddenly there was some breathing room, and momentum. In the second half, I could've sworn I saw Nebraska's offensive line breathing fire. 

"I would say as a unit, we performed a lot better," Martinez said. "For me, personally, I was a little bit calmer. I was making sure I was staying level-headed with my footwork, my decision-making and having trust in our guys." 

Calmer? 

"First game out of the way," he said. "I just felt comfortable with our guys and what we're doing. We have to trust — trust our teammates." 

He certainly can trust those veteran safeties, Dismuke and Williams. They're grown men. They're both fathers. They both take life seriously. It shows in the way they comport themselves. It definitely showed on this day. 

"Big momentum boosters," Martinez said of their monster plays in the second quarter. "Those guys are playing really hard. Fordham had gotten a couple big plays, but the defense held up. I think that goes a long way in our continued building of what we're trying to do here and trust on both sides of the ball."  

This was a day when normalcy felt good for the home team. Let's face it, this program didn't need the drama that a close win would've created. 

A loss to Fordham? Don't even go there. 

It was a game that ended with Frost walking to the locker room hand-in-hand with his wife while holding his son. 

Bottom line, Nebraska did what it was supposed to do. 

So did its veteran quarterback, my nitpicking notwithstanding. 

Fordham vs. Nebraska, 9.4

Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez (2) evades a Fordham tackle in the second half Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

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