LINCOLN, Neb. —
“The only time we got stopped was turning over the football,” Martinez said. “That was a huge emphasis this past spring and fall. If we keep working on that, we should be pretty good.”
Martinez also is polishing his pocket presence. The Huskers were 105th in sacks allowed and gave up an average of 4.25 in their four losses.
Offensive coordinator Tim Beck said he has seen improvement in Martinez through the first two weeks of practice.
“I’ve been really pleased with his progress,” Beck said. “Some of the areas that we identified in the offseason, here is what we have to get better at, he’s been really working at it and it shows.”
What are those areas?
“Just not taking sacks, hanging onto the ball a long time and knowing when to take off with it, when to dump the ball,” Beck said. “He’s really been good on his reads and his route progressions and not forcing throws.”
Martinez has plenty of help around him, starting with the most experienced offensive line since coach Bo Pelini took over in 2008. Kenny Bell heads one of the best receiving corps in the Big Ten, if not the nation, and running back Ameer Abdullah is a returning 1,000-yard rusher and a receiving threat.
“We’ve got a lot of electrifying guys,” Beck said. “Sometimes dumping the ball to Ameer could be a home run play.”
Martinez, who’s usually reserved with the media, gets glowing reviews from teammates for his leadership. Pelini named him one of the team’s four captains.
The pieces are in place for a big finish to Martinez’s career.
“I’ve played with Taylor since we started together as redshirt freshmen,” offensive lineman Jeremiah Sirles said, “and I’ve watched him grow into being a fantastic quarterback and a great leader and a great teammate.”