Mario Verduzco cut right to the chase.
Sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez didn’t perform to standard on Saturday against South Alabama, but his position coach didn’t either.
“Both of us were piss-poor,” Verduzco, Nebraska’s quarterbacks coach, said Wednesday. “He’s a young guy, and I’m in charge of the duty of getting him ready to go and I didn’t do a very good job. I’ve got to get better and have to make sure he’s ready to go.”
Martinez finished 13-of-22 for 178 yards and an interception, and didn’t muster much in the run game during a 35-21 win that saw the Huskers manage just 276 offensive yards overall.
The list of mistakes and needed corrections overall is a long one — pretty much every offensive coach this week from head coach Scott Frost on down can come up with several examples — but for Martinez, it starts with the basics.
“Obviously, I was distraught, if you want to call it that, Saturday night, but when I came in and watched the tape, all of that stuff is just simple stuff,” Verduzco said.
Take for example, an interception thrown into heavy coverage up the seam for running back Maurie Washington in the third quarter and a near interception in the first when Martinez threw into coverage toward senior receiver Kanawai Noa as junior JD Spielman broke free on a corner route.
“The interception he threw, his eyeballs are in the right place and he knows better than that. He hasn’t done that all of camp,” Verduzco said. “… During the course of the game I’m not watching him, I’m watching what’s supposed to happen down the field. So I don’t see that until Sunday morning. Well, it was totally explainable as it relates to why he was so late with the ball on both occasions and why he was incorrect on that first errant throw. In terms of throwing the ball away and running with authority and all those sorts of things, he’s got to get that cranked up.”
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Offensive line coach Greg Austin said his group didn’t do enough to help Martinez, particularly given the number of high snaps from redshirt freshman Cameron Jurgens in the first half.
“When the quarterback is in the air when the ball is snapped, that throws off everything,” Austin said. “For one, his eyes are in the sky when they should either be on a read key in the run game or his route combination in the pass game, so we’ve got to take care of our quarterbacks, and that all starts with centers and the offensive line. It starts with us. Ball security starts with us.
“Anytime the ball is in varied positions at the snap, now the quarterback has to worry about first catching the snap, which is something that could come as a habit to him. So anytime he has to first process that, then process the play, then process all of the other information, he has a lot of things on his shoulder. Our job is to make his job easier, and I think, if anything on Saturday, we made it a little tougher from that standpoint.”
Verduzco admitted an errant snap can throw off the rhythm of a play, but also said he was concerned that Martinez was jumping or reacting as if he expected a bad snap even if it was accurate.
“You kind of get in that mode a little bit and I just reminded him, firm feet,” said Verduzco, who added that there’s been maybe a bad snap or two in practice this week but not at the rate NU saw on Saturday. “… It has an impact, but that doesn’t have anything to do with him having his frickin’ eyeballs in the wrong place on the near interception.”
Verduzco has a rule in his room: Mourn for 24 hours and then move on. Martinez said Monday that he expected a good week of preparation ahead of Saturday’s game at Colorado, and Verdzco on Wednesday said he’s seen the expected response from his quarterback.
“He’s been great. I suspect that it will be just like he was last year after our first game when he had to come back and suffered that interception and whatnot,” Verduzco said. “He’s fine. He’s ready to go.”