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Martinez more relaxed entering actual debut

September 7, 2018

LINCOLN — Scott Frost said he could just tell by watching Adrian Martinez warm up that the true freshman was ready to play.

“He was probably more relaxed than I was,” quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco said Wednesday. “He felt really good. He did.”

And then the rain came, and the true freshman’s first start was postponed. But Verduzco has been impressed with the way Martinez approached this week of practice.

“I think he feels even more relaxed because he’s kinda got that all out of the way,” Verduzco said. “The hotel business, and what we do pregame, and what we do at the hotel, and all that sort of stuff. So I think he feels even more relaxed this week. We’ll find out. We’ll see.”

Nebraska is at a slight advantage with Colorado this week. The Buffs do a lot of similar things on defense that Nebraska has practiced against. Both run a 3-4 scheme. Both bring pressure. Both cover deep balls the same way.

But Verduzco just has to see Martinez play in a game to really evaluate him.

Verduzco also likes what he’s seen from Andrew Bunch and even walk-on true freshman Matt Masker. All three tested well on the playbook test the day before the Akron game — which was somewhat of a surprise.

“(Matt) did a nice job on his game test which kinda caught him a little by surprise because he wasn’t even sure that was going to happen,” Verduzco said.

O-line attacks the week

After Nebraska was sent back into the locker room Saturday, offensive line coach Greg Austin wasn’t sure how his guys would respond.

Turns out they responded well ... really well.

“They had a good week of practice last week and they were ready to go Saturday. It was a big letdown,” Austin said. “They came back and they’ve attacked this week like I never expected them to, honestly.”

Senior offensive lineman Tanner Farmer said Monday he’s never felt more prepared for a game. Austin said he could see that in his guys. And the reason why, he said, is partly in the way the entire team prepares for games.

He’s also seen his players, in particular, attack the film room. They know what to watch for, know what to look at, Austin said, and he’s been impressed with their attention to detail.

Quick hits

» Sophomore Jack Stoll remains atop the Nebraska depth chart at tight end. Redshirt freshmen Austin Allen and Kurt Rafdal are listed as co-No. 2s behind him. Tight ends coach Sean Beckton said there are differences between Rafdal (6-foot-7) and Allen (6-8) despite their similar frames.

“I think Kurt’s a lot more polished as far as a route runner, and I think Austin’s a lot more polished as a blocker right now,” Beckton said. “Both those guys are competing every single day to pull up on their deficiencies and try to even those things out. We’re working on a daily basis to try to pull those guys up to where Jack is. Jack is really playing at a complete level.”

» Running backs coach Ryan Held said recruiting is a “constant evaluation” that can change often, much like assessing an NFL roster. Striking a diversity of age and skill sets at each position is a good place to start.

In Held’s position group, Nebraska has three commits for the 2019 class, including junior college standout Dedrick Mills who committed Tuesday. Nebraska and Thomas Grayson — a running back from Tulsa, Oklahoma — parted ways last month.

“At the end of the day we want to get great football players that’ll help us and fit us,” Held said. “In recruiting, that’s what we’re constantly doing, knowing that it could change based on a lot of scenarios. So we’re always looking at that. But whenever we can find a kid — whether it’s a grad transfer, whether it’s a high school kid, a juco kid — that can help us and it fits our model and what we’re trying to get done, we’re gonna try to go and get guys who will do that.”

» Held said his backs responded well to the Akron cancellation and have performed admirably in workouts this week, particularly in pass protection.

“When we play Saturday (and) bullets are flying from another team, now we can see how we’re going to react against somebody else,” Held said.

The Huskers will rotate backs, Held said. Whoever is fresh and best fits what NU wants to do on that series will get the call.

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