Emphasis on Pre-Snap Reads Could Pay Big Dividends

Former Florida and current South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier often talks about the offense and in particular the quarterback avoiding negative plays as an important key to winning football games.  While the 1996 Fiesta Bowl might be remembered for his Gators' inability to tackle Nebraska ballcarriers, his offense yielded three interceptions (including a pick-six), a safety, another half dozen sacks, and a lost fumble.  That made a bad day substantially worse.  You can similarly track NU's performance and find a pretty striking difference between games when Taylor Martinez avoided negative plays, and when he had four or more.

 

Nebraska did  not lose a game in 2012 when the combination of sacks, fumbles, and INT's involving Taylor Martinez was three or less.  NU only won a single game when there were four or more such negative plays.  That game was against Michigan State where NU appeared dead but was helped by a pair of Spartan turnovers, a horrific 9 for 27 passing day by MSU quarterback Andrew Maxwell and 100 yards in penalties assessed against their opponent.  That still required a miracle drive by the Huskers to win with under two minutes remaining.

The four losses by NU saw four such plays (UCLA), eight plays (Ohio State), ten plays (Wisconsin), and seven plays (Georgia).  While the defense took a lot of blame for those losses, the negative plays were evident on the scoreboard.  NU gave up a safety against the Bruins, a pick-six and two more turnovers that became scores against Ohio State, a pick-six and another pick turned touchdown against Wisconsin along with some red zone opportunities stifled.  If four or five plays determine the outcome of most games, it's often negative plays by a quarterback that are among them.  

Improving the recognition by Martinez and the entire NU offense of blitzes could do a lot to reduce these critical errors.  Getting sacked on 3rd and long can be almost unavoidable at times.  What's particularly painful (and costly) is when the miscues happen on 1st and 10, as it did fifteen times to Martinez in 2012 as well as on a handful of second and short situations.  Cleaning that up could do a lot toward helping the Huskers break out of the 4+ loss season cycle that's plagued them since 2004.    

So hearing that offensive coordinator Tim Beck has been emphasizing diagnosis by Martinez is an encouraging sign.  Cutting down on those plays could be the difference between 9-10 wins and a Capital One Bowl berth and 11-12 wins and a trip to a BCS game.

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Comments 5 comments so far

Finally someone sees flaws in the offense that offense is a mirage every single time the husker d made a big stop the o would go 3 and out within 20 seconds putting the d back on the field with no rest or time to get coaching and now were going to have an extremely inexperienced d and the o is trying to go faster can you say GO BIG HIRE A COACH WITH CLUE

So the bottom line…the offense is not supposed to go backward?
:-P

John, “...every single time…”—clearly a man of great observation who absolutely never exagerates.  Who needs a clue when we have you?

Finally an article backin my theory on Martinez.  People don’t realize that Martinez isn’t very smart.  Can’t read defenses and this article backs it up.  There is much more to being a good QB than running fast and throwing 10 yards routes.  Martinez has a ton of work to do.  He has a lot he needs to improve on to help the Huskers.  I’ve said it time and time again.  His play recognition is awful, ability to read a D, awful.  Combine that with panic, happy feet, no vision, and you have a crazy turnover machine.  Martinez has improved a little.  But not near as much as people think.  He still has so much to improve on.  Turns out that the team around him has gotten much better, that is half the reason he looks better.  Hopefully he can improve! GBR

I believe he has improved each season he’s played. Also that he has a ton of talent and potential. It’s his season to shine and show all the work he has put into this.

Charrie,

I agree he has improved.  But I believe not near as much as you are giving him credit for.  The players around him have improved a ton which makes him look better.  Our receivers are extremely talented.  As well as our RB’s. 

When you look at how many bad read’s Martinez makes that lead to sacks or fumbles or INT’s, it is a lot.  In my opinion in terms of the “mental” aspect of the game and ball security, Martinez has not improved in those two categories since his first snap as a Husker.  He still makes the same bonehead plays that he did as a RS FR.  And he still has not learned to hold onto the football.  To me that is very discouraging because to me those are the two most important parts of the game. 

That either reflects on him as a player not feeling the need or caring enough to improve in those areas, or, it is a reflection of our staff, not putting enough emphasis on our QB to be intelligent and protect the ball.  Makes you wonder doesn’t it?

Lastly I just have to ask.  You believe that he has a ton of potential?  I have to ask, potential for what?  He has enough potential to have a good season next year.  Especially if he improves mentally and protects the ball.  I’ll give you that.  But his potential as a QB most likely stops there.  He doesn’t have the makings of an NFL QB.  My guess is he will be asked to work out at next year’s NFL combine as a WR.  Sorry to say but he won’t be playing QB at the next level.  He’s a talented “athlete” and has potential to do well next year, but I don’t think he is a talented QB at all.

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