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Tag:Taylor Martinez
Posted on: February 23, 2011 3:31 pm
 

Huskers "not afraid to start over" on offense

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Shawn Watson is out and Tim Beck is in as Nebraska's offensive coordinator. But what does that mean for the Huskers' offensive schemes?

Beck's not saying just yet, but it sounds like some big changes are poised to be rung in:
"I can't give away all my secrets," the new Husker offensive coordinator said Tuesday night during the Sports Nightly radio program.

However, he did indicate Nebraska essentially plans to start from scratch on offense.

"You can't be afraid to start over and get a system in place, so the system is consistent throughout," said Beck.
Two questions Beck's statement begs:

1. What does starting over mean exactly? In 2010, the Huskers were predominantly a spread-option team in the mold of Oregon or Rich Rodriguez's West Virginia teams, and for about half a season, had a similar amount of success; the scheme turned Taylor Martinez from an unknown redshirt freshman into a Heisman candidate in the space of about six weeks.

But the offense flagged badly down the stretch, resulting in a late-season slide and Watson's departure-slash-Beck's promotion. If Beck lives up to his threat to start entirely from scratch, the offense may look more like the pass-first aerial attacks that Beck coordinated at Missouri State way back in the late '90s and helped Mark Mangino develop at Kansas a few years later.

Going from last year's run-first-run-second offense to that kind of scheme would close a 180-degree shift, meaning that Beck may try and maintain some of the zone read looks from 2010 to help ease the transition. But then again, if what he really wants is a single-identity offense that's "consistent throughout" the playbook, Beck may go whole hog with the change and simply deal with the inevitable growing pains. And as for the player that might experience the bulk of those pains, the other question is ...

2. How would "starting over" affect Martinez? Not kindly, one wouldn't think. Though efficient when called upon though the first half of the season, Martinez only averaged 125 yards passing per-game and struggled late in the year when trying to throw the Huskers out of deficits. Even given Martinez's unquestioned status as the Husker's most explosive playmaker and highest-profile offensive talent, a move to a pass-centric offense might still open the door for 6'4" junior Cody Green to take over the offense.

This is another reason to think Beck won't entirely fulfill his "start over" mandate; like Al Borges at Michigan with Denard Robinson, to do so would be to intentionally minimize the strengths of his offense's greatest weapon. With so much doubt surrounding precisely how Beck plans on moving the Huskers forward, few spring camps are likely to be more scrutinized ... and Beck's comments have only made the mystery that much more intriguing.
Posted on: February 10, 2011 6:10 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2011 2:24 am
 

Starling: "Going to take a lot" to leave Nebraska

Posted by Adam Jacobi

On paper, one of the crown jewels of Nebraska's recruiting class is Bubba Starling, a highly-touted quarterback prospect from Gardner, KS (an exurb of Kansas City). Starling is one of the top high school quarterbacks in the country, and he could probably challenge reigning Big XII Freshman of the Year Taylor Martinez for a starting role on Day 1.

In fact, Starling is such a good athlete that he's also one of the best baseball prospects in the nation, and although Nebraska has offered him a spot on both its football and baseball teams, that might not be enough for the young man Baseball America anointed as its No. 1 high school prospect. And since Scott Boras is advising the young man, well, it seems as if his story's already written.

Still, the draft hasn't happened yet, and Boras has a funny way of making demands so steep that his draftee just plain doesn't get signed. And lest we think that (pardon the pun) hardballing won't happen in this instance, here's Starling himself starting negotiations at "a lot of money" (via the Kansas City Star):

Several online mock drafts have Starling going No. 11 overall to the Houston Astros, which is where the complications arise.

Last season’s 11th pick, Deck McGuire, picked up a $2 million signing bonus from the Toronto Blue Jays. Tyler Matzek got $3.9 million from the Colorado Rockies in 2009 as the No. 11 draft pick, and Justin Smoak netted $3.5 million in the same slot in 2008 from the Texas Rangers.

That kind of money would be hard to turn down. Starling is weary of the incessant speculation about his future, but he admits that becoming a multi-millionaire overnight might convince him to forego his commitment to the Huskers.

“Obviously, it’s something I would have to consider, but it’s going to take a lot of money for me not to go to Nebraska,” Starling said.

Now, if the top high school prospect gets any money from the draft, it's going to be a lot of money, so Nebraska fans should be rooting for a small-market team without a prayer of paying a big-time signing bonus to draft Starling. Generally, though, those small-market teams know better than to tangle with Scott Boras clients when it comes to draft day, which is why those mock drafts are putting Starling with the Astros down at the 11th spot. 

If that is indeed Starling's fate, Husker fans shouldn't panic; Taylor Martinez is back under center, after all, and as long as Bo Pelini can keep from running T-Magic off with another ill-timed scream session, Nebraska should be set at quarterback for a while. Moreover, if Starling's baseball career somehow doesn't pan out, he'd hardly be the first guy to come back to college football and be successful (Brandon Weeden, Chris Weinke, others). Something for Husker fans to keep in mind when they decide between "traitor" or "best wishes" to direct at Starling if/when he makes the jump to pro baseball.

 

Posted on: January 26, 2011 4:24 pm
 

Nebraska ends merchandise deal with Martinez

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Nebraska had a license deal with a merchandising company called Corn Fed Apparel that is owned by Casey Martinez. The same Casey Martinez that happens to be the father of Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez. While the agreement between the Martinez's and Nebraska didn't exactly make either side rich, the fact that the school had struck a deal with the father of its starting quarterback did strike some as fishy. Which is why instead of dealing with any possible headaches over nothing, both Nebraska and Martinez decided it was best to just end the relationship.

Here's the release from athletic director Tom Osborne:

“The licensing relationship with Corn Fed began in the summer of 2007 before our football program had initiated any recruiting contact with Taylor and his family, or had any knowledge of Taylor as a prospective student-athlete. Corn Fed is a solid company which has demonstrated success in the apparel business, and has been a licensee not only of Nebraska, but several other schools around the country. There is nothing in the licensing agreement between the two parties that is in any way non-compliant with NCAA rules.

“We have recently learned that while Taylor Martinez has no ownership in Corn Fed Apparel, Inc., he is registered as the owner of the Corn Fed trademark, and also the CornFed.com domain name. Again, this arrangement does not violate any NCAA rules.

“However, because of the attention this agreement has caused, Casey Martinez recently initiated a conversation with Nebraska about ending the licensing relationship. Both parties agreed that it would be prudent to no longer have a licensing relationship between the University of Nebraska and Corn Fed. Both the Martinez family and the University of Nebraska feel this decision is best for all parties, and specifically in helping limit distractions for Taylor and the football program.”

How much money did Nebraska make off of this deal? Well, while we can't be entirely sure of the numbers, according to an article in the Omaha World Herald in December, Nebraska has made a whopping $500 from the deal since it was reached four years ago. So I suppose we can call off the dime-sniffing dogs.
Posted on: January 12, 2011 3:17 pm
 

What I Learned in the Pac-10: Bowl Edition

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The Pac-10 goes 2-2 in its four -- yes, just four -- bowl games. Wrapping up:

1. Oregon still has to prove it can outfox teams outside the conference. For all of Chip Kelly's undeniable brilliance at the Oregon helm, the last three times the Ducks have stepped out of conference to face quality defensive opposition -- and frankly, we're being generous by even including Auburn in that discussion -- they've scored 8, 17, and 19 points (against Boise State, Ohio State, and the Tigers, respectively). Those totals are a far, far cry from the Ginsu job the Ducks have performed on the Pac-10 the past two seasons, and they beg the question: what kind of kryptonite do defensive coordinators outside the league have that those inside it don't?

To be fair, it may be a simple matter of preparation; all three of the above teams had far longer than the typical work week to watch film and prep for the Duck tempo. And the torrent of TV-dictated stoppages in bowl games didn't do anything to help Oregon's attempts to wear down the Buckeyes or Tigers from a stamina standpoint. But the root of Oregon's problems in these games doesn't have anything to do with either of those issues; it's that they've simply been destroyed at the line of scrimmage. Whether it's Boise's Ryan Winterswyk, OSU's Cameron Heyward, or now Nick Fairley, the Ducks have had no answer for the elite linemen on the other side of the ball.

No one will argue that the Duck offensive linemen aren't well-coached, athletic, quality players. They've been good enough to win two Pac-10 titles and 22 games in two years. But to take the next step and win Oregon's first national title, Kelly may have to find a way to upgrade his offensive front all the same.

2. If they can keep the staff intact, Stanford's not going anywhere. Or at least, not far. No one will argue that Jim Harbaugh wasn't the driving force behind the Cardinal's unfathomable rise to 12-1 and beyond-impressive 40-12 demolition of Virginia Tech (remember that despite their short-week loss to James Madison, the Hokies had ripped through an improved ACC without even being seriously challenged), but that doesn't mean he was the only force. Andrew Luck will return in 2011 as the hands-down, no-debate best quarterback in the nation. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman has already drawn head coaching interest and has learned directly under Harbaugh the past three seasons. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio just finished overseeing the biggest single-season defensive improvement in the conference, if not the countr. And Harbaugh's recruiting prowess means the cupboard should remain well-stocked for the next few years.

2010 may be the high-water mark for the program all the same. But if both Roman and Fangio are retained -- and it seems likely they will be, if one or the other is named head coach -- don't expect much of a drop-off in the near future, even with Harbaugh in San Francisco. The team on display at the Orange Bowl was clearly constructed well enough to withstand the loss of a single pillar, even if it happened to be the biggest one.

3. Arizona doesn't really "do" that whole bowl game scene, man. The Wildcats' appeared to have taken an important step forward during the 2009 regular season, coming within one overtime loss against the Ducks of a Rose Bowl berth. But then they took a big one back with a 33-0 shellacking at the hands of Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. This year, Mike Stoops needed a solid performance in the Alamo Bowl to wash out the taste of the 'Cats' season-ending four-game losing streak, and instead his team laid another colossal egg, meekly succumbing to Oklahoma State 36-10.

With victories or even respectable performances in those two bowls, Stoops would still have his team firmly established as one of the "up-and-comers" in the Pac-10. As is, 2011 isn't a make-or-break year for Stoops just yet ... but another iffy regular season followed by a third bowl faceplent would mean 2012 certainly would be.

4. Washington had a winning season. OK, that's not really something we "learned" as much as something that simply happened, but it's as close as we'll get since we're not sure there really was anything to learn from the Huskies' 19-7 win over Nebraska in this year's edition of the Holiday Bowl. Certainly it was a thrill for Jake Locker and the other Husky seniors to go out with a win, and after a disappointing year for coordinator Nick Holt's defense, holding the Huskers to a measly 7 points -- after giving up 56 to them in Seattle during the regular season -- will provide some optimism for next year. But with the Huskers visibly unfocused and unmotivated for a bowl game they'd played the year before against a team they'd already flattened during the regular season (and Taylor Martinez still not 100 percent), it's questionable how much an accomplishment the win really is. And with the face-of-the-program Locker departed, it's equally questionable how similar next year's Huskies will look to this year's.

So: it's a nice story for Washington. But it doesn't tells us much, if anything, about the Huskies going forward.

Posted on: January 6, 2011 1:38 am
 

Taylor Martinez plans to return to Lincoln

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It feels as though Taylor Martinez has already gone through two seasons at Nebraska.  There was the first half of his freshman year in which he lit up opposing defenses and had Nebraska fans producing songs for him.  Then there was the second half of the season.  The one that saw Martinez battle through a myriad of leg injuries, get chewed out by Bo Pelini, and ultimately ended with a loss to Washington at the Holiday Bowl.

Following that nationally televised dressing down, rumors began to pop up that Martinez was looking to transfer from Nebraska.  Rumors that have persisted to this day, two months later.  So much so, in fact, that Martinez felt the need to release a statement on Wednesday night to let everyone know he has no plans to leave Nebraska.

“To dismiss any rumors on my thoughts of transferring I’d like to state that I am anxious to get back to Nebraska Sunday evening and look forward to getting healthy and getting my strength and speed back,” said Martinez. “I also look forward to using these past year’s experiences and challenges to help me become a better all around person, football player and leader.

“I feel that with the players that we have coming back, along with the new talent that is coming into the Husker program that we will have great success for many years under coach [Bo] Pelini.”

Let's just hope he doesn't make any more phone calls to his father from the locker room.


Posted on: December 31, 2010 9:21 am
 

Bowl Grades: Holiday Bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

Washington used 268 rushing yards to wear down Nebraska and win the Holiday Bowl 19-7


WASHINGTON

Offense: Jake Locker scared Washington fans (and football fans, really) when he went down for a slide and didn't come up after taking a hit from a Nebraska defender. Many thought concussion, or possibly worse. He walked off the field, and was cleared to return, but many doubted if he would maintain his reckless running style the rest of the game. Locker set the tone of offense with his toughness as he continued to pound the ball right at the Nebraska defense. Between running back Chris Polk (177 yards, 1 TD) and Locker (83 yards rushing, 1 TD) the Washington offensive line cleared the way for both talented runners to wear down the Nebraska defense. GRADE: B+

Defense: Phenomenal. The Huskies defense absolutely flew to the ball in the open field, keeping the potent Nebraska offense from breaking the big play like they did so many times in their meeting earlier this season. Mason Foster made a name for himself, picking up 12 tackles and 2 sacks in easily one of the most impressive individual defensive efforts so far this bowl season. Without Washington's efforts on defense, the offensive opportunities would not have been set up. Credit is due to head coach Steve Sarkisian and defensive coordinator Nick Holt for getting this Washington defense fired up and ready to make a statement on Thursday. GRADE: A-

Coaching: Steve Sarkisian and the Washington Huskies made a statement with their dominant victory in the rematch with Nebraska. The game was won in the trenches, with Washington dominating the offensive and defensive lines. In these bowl games, it seems that many times it comes down to who wants the win more. There was no doubt on Thursday that Sark had his boys fired up and ready to go get some revenge. GRADE: B+

NEBRASKA

Offense: With Taylor Martinez' injury/benching, Bo Pelini's conflict with the talented freshman quarterback may have hit a point of no return. After Nebraska made a very public stand regarding the involvement of Martinez' father, some began to speculate that Pelini might be driving the family away from the program. With Thursday night's unimpressive offensive outing, there will surely be some reconciling to do if Martinez plans to inherit the starting job for 2011. Martinez, along with the rest of the Nebraska rushing game, looked flat and unaggressive in comparison to the Washington defense. Some predicted that Nebraska may not "bring it" against Washington due to disinterest, and it looked like that's exactly what happened on offense. GRADE: F

Defense: One of the strongest aspects of Nebraska's defense is the secondary, and Washington chose to isolate the front seven by running the ball right at the Cornhuskers. Similar to the offensive line, the defensive line looked a step slower and a yard off the entire game. The secondary did their part, even kept Locker from completing a single pass in the first half. But when Washington moved to the running game in the second half, the clock moved and the yards were amassed. Nebraska had no answer. GRADE: C-

Coaching: I'm not blaming the offensive inefficiency on the coaching staff, but the whole team looked flat. We started to predict that Nebraska may be disinterested in the game, if for no other reason based on the off-field incidents in the weeks leading to Thursday's Holiday Bowl. Combine the off-field incidents with Pelini's conflict with the Martinez family, and I find it hard to believe that hindsight will show proper preparation for this game. GRADE: F

FINAL GRADE: The display from Nebraska was fairly disappointing, but it was good to see Jake Locker have a strong finish to his career. His decision to return for his senior year was doubted by many, and his draft stock has likely fallen from where it was a year ago. But he got to lead his team to an impressive postseason win to finish a memorable career. GRADE: B
Posted on: December 4, 2010 10:01 pm
 

Nebraska takes big lead, gives it all away

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Through the first 18 minutes of the Big 12 Championship, it looked like Nebraska was well on its way to a dominating victory in its Big 12 swan song. The Cornhuskers defense was completely stifling Landry Jones and the Oklahoma offense.  Through its first five possessions, the Sooners had punted three times and turned it over on downs twice.

Meanwhile, for Nebraska, Roy Helu Jr.was busting out for a 66-yard touchdown run, Alex Henery was hitting a 53-yard field goal that could have been good from 200 yards, and Rex Burkhead was doing what Taylor Martinez couldn't.  Completing a pass, and a touchdown pass at that.  It was 17-0 'Huskers with just over 12 minutes left in the second quarter.

Since then, however, it has been just about all Oklahoma save for a Henery field goal to end the half.  Landry Jones finally found his groove, throwing a 49-yard touchdown to Kenny Stills to get things started. Nebraska began turning the ball over, and Oklahoma soon scored ten more points to tie the game at 17-17.

Nebraska was able to re-take the lead just before halftime with a field goal to make it 20-17, but make no mistake about it, even though Nebraska has a three-point lead, Oklahoma seems in control of the game at the moment.  If Nebraska wants to turn things around in the second half, it needs to stop turning the ball over, and Taylor Martinez needs to get his act together.

Martinez completed only 3-of-10 passes for 58 yards, and 36 of those came on a gutsy fourth and 1 call.  Unfortunately, after the conversion, Martinez would make the mistake of throwing back across the field after scrambling and get picked off in the end zone.

If he doesn't get his act straight in the second half he may find himself on the bench shortly, because while the Nebraska defense has played well through the first 30 minutes, the Oklahoma offense has too much talent and is going to find a way to put more points on the board.
Posted on: November 30, 2010 11:13 am
Edited on: November 30, 2010 11:37 am
 

DeMarco Murray's status improving for Saturday

Posted by Chip Patterson

On Monday morning, Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops was uncertain about the availability of leading rusher DeMarco Murray for the Big 12 Championship Game against Nebraska on Saturday.  Murray took a helmet to the knee in the fourth quarter of Oklahoma's division-clinching win against Oklahoma State and did not return.  The medical staff did not feel like the injury was serious, but there was still doubt as to whether he would be able to take the field against the Huskers in Dallas.  However Stoops' tone changed after seeing Murray in practice on Monday, and things appear to be looking up for the Sooners most dangerous offensive threat.

“DeMarco is much improved from (Sunday),” Stoops said following Monday's practice. “We'll see as the week goes. I don't want to say something until it's for sure...But it's looking positive right now.”

Murray's importance to the Oklahoma offense cannot be understated.  A dual-threat running back, Murray constantly forces matchup problems for opposing defenses with his ability to catch out of the backfield.  On average, Murray rushes the ball 20.0 times per game and adds 5.3 receptions, totaling up to 132.3 yards of total offense per game.  Since losing to Texas A&M on the road, the Oklahoma offense has been scorching defenses for 40+ points each outing.  They will need to keep up that kind of production in order to keep up with Nebraska, particularly if Taylor Martinez is healthy enough to play.
 
 
 
 
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