Martinez is ‘good to go’ for practice, but prep both QBs for Michigan
LINCOLN — Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez is fully back in practice while wearing a stability brace on his right leg, and position coach Mario Verduzco said the true freshman is “good to go” in NU’s preparation for No. 19 Michigan.
“In terms of his tempo, yeah, that was fine,” Verduzco said. Martinez remains a game-time decision for Saturday’s 11 a.m. kickoff in Michigan Stadium.
Now, Verduzco has to brace Martinez and walk-on backup Andrew Bunch for a hostile atmosphere at Michigan by blocking out the noise and pressure and just play. Verduzco experienced Michigan Stadium in 2016 when Central Florida traveled to Ann Arbor and lost 51-14.
The bigger challenge, Verduzco said, will be Michigan’s defense. It’s disciplined and hard-working, he said, with a lot of different looks that confuse and overwhelm offensive lines. At times, Verduzco said, Michigan seems to have 19 players on the field, and it takes good vision from a quarterback to solve the puzzle.
Martinez has good natural vision, Verduzco said.
“Some guys just inherently have that ability, you know?” Verduzco said. “That’s part of his profile.”
Martinez missed the Troy game while recovering from a right leg injury. Against Troy, Verduzco said, Bunch did a “pretty good job” despite throwing two interceptions. Nebraska’s first play of the game against Troy, a rollout pass from Bunch to Stanley Morgan, was snapped from the wrong hash despite NU asking for the ball to be on the left hash. Officials put the ball on the right hash, cutting out Bunch’s rollout and shrinking the deeper routes downfield.
“Here’s his first play of the game, that we’ve been rehearsing on the left hash so he’d have field to work, and they put it on the boundary hash,” Verduzco said.
On Bunch’s first interception, thrown into traffic after he rolled out, Verduzco said Bunch violated the rule of “never throw down the middle, inside late, without assurance.”
Bunch told Verduzco he had assurance on the throw.
“It was pretty tight,” Verduzco said. “It was a ball he’d like to have back, obviously.”
Bunch and Martinez both need to work on carrying out fakes on the zone read-option plays. That can help freeze uncertain linebackers an extra beat, which in turn can lead to bigger running plays. They also both need to improve their urgency on hurry-up plays.
“It has such a dramatic impact,” Verduzco said of holding better run fakes, which the coach calls “bursting off the disconnect.” The “burst” in this case, is the quarterback running as if he has the ball even though he’s given it to the running back.