Martinez might need title to rank with Neb greats


Martinez might need title to rank with Neb greats

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) Nebraska's Taylor Martinez is set to break 2001 Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch's school career total-offense record Saturday against Michigan State.

Only a junior, Martinez could finish his career as one of college football's most prolific quarterbacks ever.

But can he be judged as one of the Cornhuskers' all-time great quarterbacks if he doesn't win a championship of some kind?

``That's the golden question that people are going to have to ask themselves,'' Crouch said Wednesday.

The 21st-ranked Huskers (6-2, 3-1 Big Ten) lead the Legends Division, and Martinez could put himself into the conversation if he leads them to the conference championship game and Rose Bowl this season, next season or both.

The closest he's come to winning a title was in 2010, when the Huskers lost the Big 12 championship game to Oklahoma after blowing a 17-0 lead.

Martinez goes into the Michigan State game 23-10 as the starter, a modest record by program standards. He's had mixed results in the most important games. He's yet to win a bowl game.

The Huskers' days of dominance are well behind them, and Martinez simply doesn't have the same level of talent surrounding him as some of his predecessors.

Tommie Frazier (1992-95) and Jerry Tagge (1969-71) are revered among the Nebraska faithful because each won two national championships.

Turner Gill (1981-83) is beloved for winning three straight Big Eight titles, never losing a conference game. He also threw the memorable failed two-point conversion pass in the 1984 Orange Bowl that cost the Huskers the national title but won coach Tom Osborne respect for having the guts to go for a win instead of a tie against Miami.

Scott Frost (1996-97) would get mention from fans as an all-time great for sending Osborne into his coaching retirement with a share of the national championship - even though some folks still hold a grudge against the homegrown Frost for going to Stanford before transferring to Nebraska.

Crouch won just one Big 12 title and lost to Miami in the national championship game after the 2001 season but did, after all, win the Heisman.

Martinez will have better numbers than all of them by the time he's finished. That's largely because he'll be a four-year starter, unless the unexpected happens, and will have played in an offense that lends itself to big quarterback statistics.

Gill, Frazier, Frost and Crouch operated in the triple-option and, thus, didn't throw nearly as many passes as Martinez.

Martinez has generated 7,801 yards in total offense, 114 shy of Crouch's record of 7,915.

He eclipsed 5,000 career passing yards against Northwestern two weeks ago. He's on track this season to become the 15th player in NCAA history to throw for 5,000 yards and rush for 2,500. He would be the fourth to do it before his senior year.

Martinez has earned the respect of teammates for his toughness and ability to direct the no-huddle offense.

``Taylor's a phenomenal leader and a phenomenal quarterback, in my opinion,'' offensive lineman Jeremiah Sirles said. ``I think he's done a really good job managing the game as far as the tempo goes.''

Still, Martinez is still looking for that elusive championship - not to mention a season that ends with fewer than four losses.

``The numbers don't mean a whole lot if the wins aren't there,'' Crouch said. ``So a lot of it comes down to winning. You say it's spectacular and it's a great accomplishment to have great numbers, high numbers. I'm sure Martinez would trade those in for conference championships and national championships if you asked him.''

Martinez isn't much for talk.

Nebraska quarterbacks always have lived in a fishbowl. But Martinez is playing at a time when college football players, and athletes in general, are endlessly scrutinized through traditional and social media.

``I think Taylor has taken a lot of hits,'' coach Bo Pelini said this week. ``I think he's done a lot of great things since he's been here. I think the best part about it is there is still a lot more out there for him... I think he's become mentally tougher through all the things he's gone through.''

Martinez has been skewered for his decision-making, unconventional throwing motion and fumbling. People who know him say he is shy. In the best of times he is terse with the media, and his short and sometimes disjointed answers to questions have not endeared him to the public.

Crouch doesn't blame Martinez for staying in his shell.

``People, not just the media, want to pick everything apart,'' Crouch said. ``In a day and age where everyone has an opinion and a voice, it makes it different than it was 10-15 years ago.''

Quick Links

Early returns show solid Redskins squad, with potential for more


Early returns show solid Redskins squad, with potential for more

More than 100 days remain before the Redskins take the field in meaningful NFL action.

Any and all excitement needs to be tempered, significantly, because what happens on a practice field in May without pads does not represent what will happen in September, October and beyond. 

Still, the Redskins group that took the field this week for OTAs showed promise. 

New quarterback Alex Smith looked crisp, connecting with a variety of wideouts and commanding the huddle. New wideout Paul Richardson made the best play of the session when he streaked down the field past rookie cornerback Greg Stroman and hauled in a deep pass from Smith. The play showed Smith's ability to identify open receivers downfield, as well as Richardson's ability to go up and grab a contested catch. Even Stroman, the seventh-round rookie, positioned himself well, he just fell victim to a perfect pass and tremendous athleticism.

That was only one play in a two-hour session. Again, don't take too much from May, when players don't wear pads or engage in any of the violence that the NFL is predicated upon. But the OTAs do serve a purpose, both for players and coaches, and there were nuggets to absorb and try to project for the fall. Here they are:

  • Jay Gruden made clear he's not concerned about the health of his offensive line. Trent Williams and Morgan Moses are recuperating from offseason surgery, but Gruden believes both are on track for when things start to matter. It's a good thing the coach isn't concerned because this was the 'Skins line in OTAs (left to right): Geron Christian, Shawn Lauvao, Chase Roullier, Brandon Scherff, John Kling. Should that lineup take the field this fall, there will be trouble. 
  • The Redskins lost Kendall Fuller and Bashaud Breeland this offseason, and the secondary depth will be something to watch throughout training camp. At OTAs, newly signed veteran cornerback Orlando Scandrick lined up opposite Josh Norman in the team's base 3-4 defense. In nickel and dime coverage, Quinton Dunbar lined up opposite Norman and Scandrick moved to the slot. As things progress, it will be interesting to see if Dunbar surpasses Scandrick in base coverage, and what becomes of 2017 third-round pick Fabian Moreau. Stay tuned.  
  • Rookie running back Derrius Guice looked every part of the first-round talent many judged him to be before draft season rumors caused him to slide to the late second round. Guice cuts with authority and is able to see holes before they form and patiently wait to hit the open space. Guice also looked fine in pass-catching drills, one area that was a question coming out of LSU (but that says more about LSU's prehistoric offense). Watching the Redskins offense work, it seems clear Guice will be the heaviest used runner this fall.

  • That said, don't count out Robert Kelley. He looks leaner and plenty quick, showing a few impressive runs during the session. Byron Marshall also looked good, and Gruden pointed out his success in his post-OTA press conference. The running back group will have plenty of competition all the way through Richmond. 
  • Jonathan Allen has switched jersey numbers from 95 to 93. Rookie Daron Payne is now wearing 95. Payne and Allen both went to Alabama, both are huge, and both play defensive line. The number switch will take some getting used to. 
  • Zach Brown missed the OTA session as he was moving, and interestingly in his spot with the starting defense was Josh Harvey-Clemons. The second-year pro out of Louisville showed impressive speed in coverage, and remember he played safety in college and performed quite well. He has ball skills and great size to be a coverage linebacker. Some were surprised when the Redskins kept JHC last season at the cut to 53, but his development appears to be paying off for the organization. 
  • Another linebacker that made a play was Zach Vigil. He impressed for the Redskins late last season and was running the Washington second-team defensive huddle. At one point, Vigil broke through the line of scrimmage and blew up a run play. That prompted D.J. Swearinger to yell from the sideline, "OK Zach. OK ZACH!"
  • Speaking of Swearinger, the Redskins defensive captain seemed in midseason form when it comes to yelling encouragement on the field. Nobody hypes up the defense like Swearinger, particularly when the secondary makes a big play. On one pass Dunbar made a nice diving play to break up a pass, and Swearinger and Josh Norman got very fired up, shouting and jumping around. The entire defense responded. Little stuff like that helps disrupt the monotony of offseason work. 
  • Jamison Crowder looks jacked and quick. The end. 





Don't forget to subscribe to the #RedskinsTalk podcast, hosted by JP Finlay.

Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below.

Quick Links

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!


Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

The Capitals are the Eastern Conference Champions!

After dispatching Tampa Bay in Game 7, the Caps claimed the conference crown for just the second time in franchise history. But they're not done yet. Now it's on to Vegas to face the Golden Knights for the Stanley Cup.

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break down the Caps' win over the Lightning and look ahead to the matchup with the Knights.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.