Things I know, and things I think I know:
If Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez needs a shot of motivational fuel this summer, we’re here to help.
Actually, NFL and college football handicapper Lee Sterling is here to help.
The Miami-based Sterling, who appears on 50-plus radio shows nationally, told “Early Break” (93.7 FM) listeners Friday morning that the most important position in his offseason evaluations of teams is quarterback. No surprise there. A team better have a stud QB (and excellent interior defensive linemen) if it wants to go far, Sterling said.
So, does Nebraska have a stud in Martinez, a fourth-year junior?
“No,” Sterling said flatly. “I would say on a scale of one to 10, he’s probably a 5½ or 6. He makes some plays where you’re like, ‘Wow, this is a kid who can make you really good.’ And then there are some plays in some games that are just maddening. You watch the kid and he misreads defenses and turns the ball over.”
Even ardent supporters of Martinez — I’ve been known to qualify as such — can’t ignore that he leads all current FBS players with 15 career fumbles lost and is the only player to lose four or more fumbles in each of the past three seasons. In addition, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound California native has thrown 12 interceptions (and 14 touchdown passes) the last two seasons.
All told, he’s 11-16 as the team’s starter.
“I thought he was going to get to the next level after watching him as a freshman,” said Sterling, recalling Martinez’s excellent 2018 season. “But he just hasn’t progressed.”
Ouch. Sterling then raised an issue I’ve often mentioned on radio and in columns — an issue that qualifies as a valid defense for Martinez.
“It does hurt him that the talent around him has not been great,” Sterling said. “But there’s just something missing there. All of a sudden, for the green light to come on (in his fourth year), it usually doesn’t happen.”
It should be noted Nebraska coach Scott Frost and his staff have upgraded talent at receiver. Size and speed at the position is better. What’s more, the Huskers have a tight end with NFL-level talent in 6-8, 260-pound junior Austin Allen. The offensive line should be solid at the very least.
Bottom line, it’s certainly OK to leave open the possibility that Martinez will have a big junior season.
“Do I think he’ll be better? Yes,” Sterling said. “Do I think he’ll be elite? No. Just pop in the film. It’s the same thing over and over. I don’t know what his work habits are. I don’t know that well enough. But there’s something missing there.
“To be as good as he was as a freshman, and looking at where he is now, he should be much farther along in the process.”
Many Nebraska fans seem to agree with Sterling, which is partly why I found his assessment to be noteworthy.
Ah, but part of the beauty of sport is the ability to prove people wrong.
My hunch is Martinez will do that in 2021.
* The Nebraska baseball team’s Big Ten championship and impressive NCAA Tournament showing can indeed be a spark for the Athletic Department, Husker athletic director Bill Moos says.
“We’ve got a good, close group of coaches here,” he says. “They draw from each other and support each other.”
Don’t forget the Nebraska women’s bowling team captured the NCAA crown in April under coach Paul Klempa, Moos says.
He won’t let you forget it.
“That was an inspiration,” says the 70-year-old AD, his volume rising. “The university president (Ted Carter) had the team over to his house. The chancellor (Ronnie Green) honored them with a luncheon at the alumni center. You’re doggone right. You celebrate champions. That’ll be done with baseball.”
Maybe I seem overly interested in the way Nebraska honors its champions. But I feel it’s extremely important, especially during a period impacted so heavily by COVID-19.
Plus, “It’s important because it’s something the other coaches can observe and appreciate, and be inspired by,” Moos says.
Think about those bowlers being honored by both the president and chancellor. Those women will remember the occasions for the rest of their lives.
Strikes me as sound leadership.
I don’t care if the kid was a six-star recruit in high school, Husker secondary coach Travis Fisher promises nothing when it comes to game reps. It’s not his style.
Quinton Newsome, the favorite to start at corner opposite Cam Taylor-Britt, will welcome Johnson with open arms. Newsome loves to compete. He’s a rising star in the program, and nothing changes that.
Bottom line, Nebraska improved its roster. We’ll see where it goes from there.
* I asked the question, and you responded in a big way.
Or should I say a “tall” way.
Nebraska appears to be in good position to get a verbal commitment from 6-6 quarterback Richard Torres of San Antonio. I wondered in last week’s “Things I know” column if Nebraska had ever had a quarterback 6-6 or taller.
Boy, did I hear from folks. They came out of the woodwork. Thank you.
The answer: Frank Patrick, a Husker QB in 1967 and 1968, was listed at 6-7. He saw action only as a receiver/tight end in 1969.
“His stride, while dropping back to pass, was so large that (Bob) Devaney tied a towel around his knees to shorten it up in practice,” writes Ron Olds.
Love that stuff.
Spring post-op: Catch up on our position-by-position look at where the Huskers stand after spring
What did we learn from the Huskers’ spring? What about the things we still need to find out? Plus, a look at “stock-risers” and more.
The series continues with offense this week. No better place to start than quarterback, right?
NU’s safeties benefited from the extra year of eligibility, as Marquel Dismuke and Deontai Williams both return for sixth seasons.
Cam Taylor-Britt has ascended into a face-of-the-program type player and perhaps the best player on the roster. But is there enough depth?
Luke Reimer, Chris Kolarevic and Nick Henrich are a strong trio at the top. But this is the Big Ten. Who can be the fourth man? The fifth?
You followed along all spring. Who’s your standout player from the outside linebacker group? How about the “stock-riser?” Compare notes with us.
Defensive line coach Tony Tuioti said he has at least six players he can trust and potentially seven, but it’s unclear if any of NU’s next wave of players will crack the rotation this fall.
Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-473-7440. On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.