Martinez Grows Up As Huskers Pull Away From Fresno State

In a game that was closer than many expected, Nebraska defeated Fresno State 42-29.  Bulldog head coach Pat Hill had expressed concerns about defending the option leading up to the game and his worries were validated as Husker quarterback Taylor Martinez rolled up 154 yards and two touchdowns which ended up being the difference in the contest.

Fresno State got off to a fast start with a 67 yard punt return for a touchdown by Devon Wylie.  NU answered with a Martinez score, but the Bulldogs responded with a touchdown drive that ended with FSU quarterback Derek Carr scoring from three yards out. 

NU running back Rex Burkhead tied the game at 14 in the second quarter with a one-yard score before Fresno State put together a time-killing field goal drive to take a 17-14 halftime lead.  FSU managed another field goal to open the third quarter before Nebraska started to pull away.

Martinez found wideout Quincy Enunwa for a 16-yard touchdown to give Nebraska a 21-20 lead in the middle of the third quarter.  Then Burkhead extended the lead with a six-yard touchdown early in the fourth period to make the score 28-20.  Fresno State answered with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Josh Harper, but their two-point conversion attempt failed. 

Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah responded with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to make it a 35-26 ballgame.  After a patient FSU field goal drive which mostly featured Bulldog running back Robbie Rouse, the score narrowed to 35-29.  Then Martinez delivered the knockout blow with a 46-yard touchdown run with two minutes remaining. 

The performance of Martinez was night and day between the first and second halves.  His first half included three turnovers.  His second half saw him make clutch passes and clutch runs to lead his team to victory on a night where the defense needed help.  The Bulldogs amassed 444 total yards and didn't take a single sack.  The only FSU turnover was committed by their defense.  They were also called for the game's only offensive holding penalty which may have something to do with their success. 

Martinez still has flaws to work on.  Ball security, patience in the pocket, and telescoping passes are all areas for improvement.  But he showed that his ability to make positive plays can still be an asset to the team.  That will be essential as the opponents continue to get better for Nebraska.

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Comments 35 comments so far

Aside from the obvious bad points im really proud of the way the kept fighting and pulled it out. Especially Martinez. And how bout abdullah eh?

1)  Fresno State’s Coaching Staff throughly handled Coach Pelini and The Nebraska Coaching Staff.  They had a fantastic gameplan, and had their kids prepared to play. Especially since they had 5 new starters on the offensive line. . .

2)  We better get better run support from every LB not named David. . .

3)  If we had this kind of problems with Carr on rollouts then it is scary to think what could happen at Wisconsin. If Fresno can pound it on us like this then we could have a rough Big 10 opening. . .

4)  Steinkuhler plays too high at times, he really played a poor game tonight.  Seeing that now he is a Junior and his frame is what it is, it seems that he might’ve been better at OT.  Great frame for an OT.  A little long for DT. . .

5)  We urgently need Dennard.  Now. . .

6)  CB’s are young, but they seem to be struggling with Coach Raymond and new technique being stressed.  We miss Coach Sanders right now. . .

7)  Abdullah is the first every touch, endzone threat that Coach Pelini has had here. Coach Beck has to find ways to get him on the field.  He just can’t be out there for Special Teams.  If he can be trusted to handle punts, he’s got the stones to make an impact in other places too. . .

8)  We’re in the process of wasting a Redshirt on either Heard or Green.  Seems like it could be another repeat of Andrew Rodriguez. . .

9)  Last one, these ball security issues of Martinez have to stop.  I find it hard to believe that if an IB put it on the turf twice in one half that his playing time would not be reduced, if he were not outright benched.  What about DB’s that miss tackles or blow assignments?  We know they get benched here.  I just don’t see another QB in the country who puts it on the turf like this guy. . .

Let’s hope this game was a wake up call for them, a reality check that motivates them to step it up and get their sht together. I do feel a little better about this team after this game then I did after the last though.

Wow, I wish I could have watched that game!
Big plays galore and enough suspense to have to sit and fidget.

In general terms, if you want Pelini somewhat upset, you want him somewhat upset at his “D.” ‘Cause, you KNOW his issues with it will get fixed, straitaway. Whereas, with the offense, he’d have to find guys jobs first, before he can fix it.
The offense made up for itself and the D, so it can be considered fixed. Though it’s relying on T-Magic in the running game, more than Solich almost ever relied on Crouch.

The Bulldogs have a fast team. The Huskers are a faster team.
A fast team just learning how to exploit its gifts.
I’ll worry about the next fast team, the Huskies, next week.

I was at the game. The refs missed at least 5 holding penalties by Fresno State. And I say at least because they were BLATANT. That had something to do with it to. Their QB played very smart and the offense was very conservative. I worry about this for teams like Ohio State and Wisconsin.
I am very impressed with Jamal Turner and Ameer Abdullah. Taylor Martinez showed me a lot to be impressed with. Take away those two mishaps in the first half, and he had an outright outstanding game.

Good points. I think the team took a step in the second half. They looked like what they are in quarter 1 and quarter 2, freshmen and sophomores. Second half there seemed to be more of a team approach.

Major concerns regarding Crick and Co. Can we get some talent on the field instead of LB 39, LB 42, S 8? Are we really this short on talent? The loss of our rockstar DB’s last is being felt.

Taylor did some good things. He’s a good football player.

The lack of pressure from the D Line was pretty shocking, that’s got me dumbfounded. They had like 4 first time starters on thier o-line or something like that?

I too would’ve guessed that Nebraska would pile up sacks against the Fresno St. line based on the injuries and inexperience they had coming in but give credit to Pat Hill & Co. After giving up 6 sacks against Cal, it was pretty clear that they came up with an offensive scheme designed to limit Nebraska’s pressure. Lot of rollouts, waggles and when Carr did drop it was often a short drop with quick routes.

More alarming perhaps was how well that o-line did in the running game.  That’s a separate issue.

Nebraska players on both sides of the ball, almost to a man, talked about how Fresno State gave them much different looks than what they prepared for in practice. I’ll be interested in what Bo has to say on this on Monday but at first glance this looks like one of the better jobs by an opposing coach in the Pelini era.

I hear this week in and week out from the huskers they got looks they were not prepared for how come opposing coaches can change their offensive schemes in a week and be real effiecent at it but the huskers can’t change theirs in a year.

First, did anyone watch the game on BTN?  Was it me or BTN, that had a like a 1/4 of the screen off to the left?
I heard all week how the most improvements happen between week 1 and week 2.  If that is true, it would seem that we are in for a long season. 
The defense was absolutely flat!  Even David made a fair share of mistakes on the field during the running game.  Crick, I don’t know what he was doing in there, it was playing Nebraska Defense that is for sure.
The offense, it is simple, if Fresno can have all those starters and run like they did, and they are not a running power house, then why can’t the Husker run the ball?
I have to say that it was nice to see the offense win a game for us, that we haven’t seen in a long time. 
If we have to go back to relying on T-Mart to get it done in every game, then what will we do once he is hurt again?  He won’t make it through the season doing it all.
I hope to see a bit of a fire in the guys next week, as they will need it against the Huskies.  I watched a small amount of thier game yesterday, and the QB position has been filled in nicely.

a question on carrs flying touchdown-it appeared that while in the air he clearly was out of bounds before the ball crossed either the first down line or the goal. obviously if he touched out of bounds while the ball was in the air the ball would have been spotted at that point, since the ball is in play while airborne and a score is made when crossing the goal line plane, how come an airborne player is still considered in play after crossing the sideline plane????

The first half was exactly what this team needed. Shake them up a bit.
The team seems to come out tentative every week.. they act like they are afraid to make a mistake.  Bo needs to get these guys more relaxed - the focus is there, they just seem very tight.
Practice will be tough this week…

It only matters where the ball is when a player is not in physical contact with the field.  The player kept the ball inside the playing area while airborne and crossed inside the pylon before coming in contact with the ground.  Absolute right call.  Cassidy needs to learn to stay on his feet.  If he had he could have stopped Carr from even making the first down.

Very disappointed with line play on both sides of the ball.  This team has major issues to get fixed before next Saturday.  UW will want to show it was no fluke in the bowl game.

Is it me or does anyone else not see any fire from these guys.  No swagger and certainly no quiet confidence.  Bigger test next week guys.  Get it together.  Go Big Red!

My thoughts on D: Evans and Green I think had a pretty decent game for 1st year corners.  Safety’s were caught out of position a couple times on big throws.  Our LB’s are extremely slow to read and fill with the exception of David. I am not impressed with Compton or Fischer yet, but they are still young.  I think Trevor Roach is a better choice from what I saw of him last week filling in for Compton.  Dline is NOT getting a good first step and standing up the oline and controlling the line.  I thought the D looked tired and out of breath. 
My thoughts on O: the offense looks exactly like Watson’s offense but with some option.  Very VANILLA.  Why wait till 4th qtr to use Burkhead?  Why not roll out Martinez with pass/run options???  He would kill doing that, just like we were being killed by Carr rolling out.  Where is the promised FB? 
Punt and Kickoff Coverage: TERRIBLE!  How many seasons do we have to go thru this? 
On a positive note: we have young team and a new offensive playbook.  I am willing to give them some time to get things fixed, but I am getting less and less optimistic.

1) On Carr’s diving TD, why did Cassidy dive at his feet as opposed to meeting him head on. That’s not the attitude we need on defense, especially on 4th and goal. I do believe that Damion Stafford would have put a lick on Carr if in the same situation.

2) It looks like we are slow at LB with the exception of David. I like Compton and Fischer but they don’t seem to have good closing speed

3) I felt like Fresno had a gameplan that was going to make it so we could not sack Carr. They either rolled him out or he got rid of the ball quickly. Frankly, he played a nearly flawless game. His completion % wasn’t great but i believe many of those incompletions were throw-aways. He made the throws when he had an open receiver and threw it away where no one could get it when there were no open receivers. He only made one big mistake and that was the ball that Cassidy almost intercepted on Fresno’s last possession, and at that point the game was sealed. I’m going to give more credit to him and Fresno’s game plan than get on our guys.

4) We were outcoached nearly all game in the matchup of Fresno offense vs. NU defense. Tim Beck won his battle in the second half.

5) I still believe that out D-Line can get pressure on any QB who goes into a straight drop back but when teams move the pocket we have difficulty. I have noticed though that when the LB’s pick up coverage on the short routes, the DE stays home, and the DTs don’t immediately overpursue…we defend well on a “moving” pocket. I believe that it is unwise to send extra pressure on an offense using this strategy because the pressure can’t get there quick enough. Any reasonably competent QB will either find the man left open quickly or throw it away. A good QB will consistently make the quick read and complete a pass for a decent positive gain.

of course having DEs that can get upfield quicker would effectively stunt any rollout attempts

I’ve always said I don’t care what the truth is as long as I know it’s the truth. If this is where we’re starting from this year, so be it. Not too much we can do about it except look towards the future and hope we get a lot better this year. WyHusker, you hit the nail on the head…no fire, no quiet confidense, and certainly no swagger…I’m just hopeful it’ll come and I do think it will…eventually. In time for the B1G season? Probably not so much. We certainly didn’t get a big boost between week 1 and 2 like Fresno State did.
After being very negative after last weeks debacle, I’m taking on a little different tact after this game. I think this team is so scared about not blowing it and making mistakes, they are playing not to loose. They’re not attacking aggressivly right now on offense OR defense. They do not have their confidence yet but they’re out there playing and getting better. I think as the season goes on and more and more big plays happen like Abduhlas 100 yard return though, the more confidence this team will have. It will have to be earned, but when it is, it will be real, not fake like you see so much of. I do see a lot of promise and potential, frustrating as it is.
If you think about it, we have all the right parts…but they’re running like an engine that needs an oil change badly. It simply needs oil. That confidence is the oil that this team needs…MoJo to be exact. That has to be proven by things you did on the field well, and with as little actual game time experience that this team has, even in it’s experienced players, and all the youth this team has in it’s freshmen and sophomores, it’s no wonder they’re playing like this. Really, what else should we expect from such a young team? Heck, even the defense seemed timid last night, and when does a Pelini defense seem timid? Again, Mojo being replaced by confusion and lack of confidence. Probably Pelinis worst defensive outing so far. This team needs the likes of Dennard back, and Crick and David strong to lead by example. They’re not right now, which is an even bigger surprise than where the offense is at.
There is one good thing in having a young team like this…it does bode well for the future. I don’t think that future will be in 2011, but this 2011 class may turn out to be a steller class in time. If only one of those three freshmen RB’s turns out to have a big year this year, along with Burkhead, Martinez and Turner all having big years, we still could have a legitimate offensive unit that could get us places. A true 4 headed monster if they can just get it together. They just need to gel…a lot. And that comes with game experience and reps in practice.
The offensive front line is going to be the thing that holds us back this year. Skill guys can go play right out of high school a LOT easier than a linemen can. But we did bring in 4, 4 star offensive linemen this year along with the three freshmen running backs, so the future does look bright. It’s the here and now that is the problem. They should have been addressing this 2-3 years ago. They didn’t, and we’re seeing it now. Biggest mistake of Pelini’s time here by far and it’s costing him now. And I don’t see it getting substantially better anytime real soon. We’ll see, but as Sipple is suggesting, we might want to temper our expectations…just a little. And that is the truth.

All of those things are a concern.  With the offense making some strides in the second half, maybe they improve on a week-to-week basis until league play comes around.  Will see how Martinez grew up when we play Washington on Saturday.
  The D-Line will really have to be sound, since we don’t have a lot of studs in the back 7 as before.
Can anybody tell me why P.J. Smith fallin off so much? I barely see him play anymore.

I agree that we were out coached.  Also, after 2 stupid fumbles and I also believe 1 or 2 interceptions why wasn’t TM replaced?  He should of been benched for a while to calm him down.  This concerns me on many levels, it feels like we are depending on TM a lot more this year than last.  TM is careless handling the football and unless he makes changes we could be in for major heart ache this season.  We have the talent and things should get better.  To me, Coach Raymond may be creating problems with his being “too technical” thus creating confusing on his young players.  He has a good point teaching technique but he should remember that it took him years in college and pros to learn this.  He should ease off and let the kids play to get experience.  We have all the pieces this year to do big things but we are so young and that could hurt us in the long run.

I was at the game last night, and does anyone else think that it is absurd that Brandon Kinnie cannot hold on to a ball to save his life? There were 4 or 5 passes that, though not perfect, should have been caught, especially by a senior leader. The young receiving core really stepped up later in the game, which is a positive sign. Martinez played abysmal the first half, and solid the second half. I’m curious to find out when he puts it together and we get a full, complete game out of him. I totally agree with the other comments about the holding penalties; they were blatant and should have been called. Still, there were a number of missed tackles all over the field the whole game. A NU defense giving up 444 yards, and over 150 to their running back who just pounded the rock down their throats? That’s news to me. I’m hoping this will be that kick in the butt to get them thinking straight and my money is we see a bit more consistent team on the field next weekend.

I agree with DJ that we’ll get better game by game, but will we ever be to the point this year where we’ll be a serious threat to win the B1G Championship like everyone thought we were going into this season? That’s the question. I think they’ll put it together enough by midseason to be respectable, but the one author is right…the Wisconsin ldefensive inemen are salivating at the thought of going up against our kids of the front line. I hope I’m wrong and they show us more than what we have come to expect out of this team.
Also, I’d rather start out slow and get better and better than start out hot like last year and then fizzle.

I completely agree with the starting off slow and getting better situation. Last year was the wrong way to do it. Do everything right and continue to get better. Fundamentals, fundamentals. Execution, execution. Fundamentals, fundamentals. Execution, execution. The offensive line seems to be just spinning their motor and not attacking. But if they are plainly working on getting the execution, blocks, and fundamentals right so it is 2nd nature, they will be able to continually come off the ball like rockets and shove the opposing Defensive front 7 back where they came from. Give Rex, Ameer, Green, Heard, and whoever time to make plays. It seems like every play is practically a FB dive, only it’s not the Fullback. I am disappointed in not seeing the FB more than that one play at the beginning of the season. However, it would not surprise me if they are holding that as a dimension for opposing defenses to not take into account. But damn, they’ve GOT to do something quick and for good.

1) Carr’s success with the rollout was a coaching error. Once Nebraska started blitzing corners (two drives after the adjustment should have been made, Carl) that part of the game slowed to a halt.

2) I think the Huskers revealed the new offense in the 3rd quarter, something they probably wanted to not do against an OOC opponent. On the plus side the O looked much better once they did.

3) The most worrisome thing right now is the trenches. A run attack with no lanes, a pass attack with a standing room only pocket, and a lack of sacks, pressure, and penetration does not bode well.

4) Taylor’s fumbles, while clearly something he needs to work on, are also a bit of a coaching error. Pop Quiz: your QB fumbled twice on rollout plays going against his throwing arm because he switched carrying arms poorly- what play do you quit calling? Personally I would avoid rollouts to the left with a righty (and vise versa) like the plague in my gameplan… no clue why the Huskers do the exact opposite.

I still come away from this game feeling a lot better then after the UTC game. I might be the only one. We have a extremely young team but they fought through the adversity and got the win. Taylor even made huge throws when we needed them. Im not too worried about the D, im pretty confident that will get fixed. Dennard will help that. Definitely need to see more production from the RB’s, any of them. Need the O-line to step up for that to happen though. As far as the new offense and play calling goes im still undecided. At times it looks way too much like last year but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. NEED MORE INTENSITY AND FIRE!!!!

At this point, I think it would be a huge accomplishment to even win the legends division.  We play like we did last night against Wisconsin and we will lose by three touchdowns at least.  However, anyone talking about benching Martinez must be on something.  The dude pretty much won the game for us by making some clutch throws and runs down the stretch.  I think he really stepped it up in the second half, and we saw a total QB out there.  The team should rally around that and I hope we see more consistent play from him now.  I think making those long passes should give him some real confidence, but like others have said, we rely way too much on him in the running game.  We simply have to get the new RB’s more involved.

The defense…wow.  I’m going to hope that wasn’t a sign of things to come.  We really need Dennard back, but I wouldn’t blame it all on the DB’s.  It’s a two-way street…no pressure on the QB means someone is going to get open.  We simply did not get to their QB…at all.  I think our young DB’s held their own considering…no sacks!!!  Did we even have a QB hurry, I mean, other than the time Carr fell down on his own.  The running right at us was a concern too.  Our LB’s aren’t very good beyond David.  Put Roach in or whatever, but get rid of Fisher. Guy’s a liability out there right now.  Add another DB if you have to or something.  Maybe Bo just needs to take back over calling the plays on D…whatever it is, it needs to be fixed in a hurry!  On a positive note, some of the young guys showed some major promise out there!  Really excited for the future!

PS - Kinnie needs to find a “plank”...and sit on it.

Those who might really want Martinez to not be the QB anymore, by whatever or, however means, may have to take a pause and understand just what they want.
He’s got 2 of the top 8 and 3 of the top 12 total offense games, all time, in Nebraska’s history. In a category dominated by QBs from the recent passer era, he’s the only dual threat listed that high.
Even in his crazy RFr season, he still had a top 6 single season, just a few yards behind Big 12 p.o.y. Zac Taylor and Heisman winner Crouch.
Sure, at this point, he’s not the 6th best option QB in Nebraska history, if you compare him to multi year senior starters. But compare him to guys at 14 starts…
Point is, he’s scary good. Especially, to opposing coaches. With almost 3 full seasons ahead of him.

I don’t get all the comments about Martinez making great or clutch throws in the second half.  I must have been watching the wrong game or something…
I saw one good throw and that was to Cotton.  All the other throws were just heaved up there as jump balls.  They were successful because either the reciever was wide open or the reciever made a play.  Props to the recievers, and I’m excited about the second half comback.  However, those jump balls and open recievers aren’t likely to happen against toucher competition or one that isn’t stacking the box.  If Taylor can’t learn to make a throw (not a jump ball heave) and hit someone in stride then we are in for more of what we saw last year against quality opponents.

Step back - breathe - smile. We’re 2-0 & #10. Be glad we play early games at home. Accept that we don’t have overwhelming talent on either side of the ball like in past years - for any #of logical reasons. We have outside the top ten recruiting classes year after year yet we’re not content with being #10 - who do you think our coach is .. Tom Osborne? Remember we can only win or lose one game at a time so don’t project a seasonal success/failure on a close early game. We’re doing just fine for now. We’ll get better week by week. GBR!

What a great game to watch, such improvements by the youngest guys in the squad, and I hope our D-Line get’s a day off this week—- too much practice is showing wear. Great to see, even when behind, there was little panic on the faces of the team and the coaching staff. GBR!

It appears that the only thing the O line’s anger at themselves for last week’s performance accomplished is to demoralize the D line.  I sure didn’t detect a whole lot of improvment.  T magic did exceptionally well considering the poor workmanship of both the O & D lines.  We were lucky to get a W.  It appears we’re in for a real roller coaster ride this season unless Pelini & his boys can get their acts in a row.

TM concerns me with his play, granted he is a great individual talent and is scary when he runs BUT he seems to struggle working together as a team when the offense is on the field.  I like TM and want him to continue his success with our huskers BUT, to me, he plays more like and individual member of the offense and not like a team member.  Am I wrong????  I’m very confused on how TM runs so hot then cold.  Any suggestions on my theory or am I just crazy?

Only Two players in all of Division I college football over the last two years have thrown for over 100 yds and passed for over 100 yards in 7 games can you guys guess who.. #1 Dennard Robinson of Michigan, #2 Taylor Martinez of Nebraska, you people need to get off the hatoraide..!! Yes he makes mistakes, and has a goofy release , so do most dual threat qbs. but the kid steped up in the second half of that game and won it for us with the help of AMEER .. First you guys bitch that we go to a pro set over the old option routine , now we have one of the best young dual threat qbs in the country and your still hating.. Hes a damn sophmore….

And I know he needs to hold on to the ball better but again I do not know how many time I can state this but SOPHMORE!!!!

Taylor had little choice in being able to step up into a pocket and throw from any but his back foot.  There was no pocket created and the backfield was full of Bulldogs.  Our O Line appeared to be timid and allowed the Bulldogs to control the line and prevent any but big plays and most certainly no ability on our part to control the football.  A hurry up offense doesn’t wear anybody down if the backs can’t get past the line of scrimmage….three and we’re out.  All we accomplished was to wear our own defense to a tired and confused group left standing with empty hands on their hips while Carr ran around in the back field looking for recievers.  I’ve seen this in the past when NU seemed to be totally uninspired.  We have a serious coaching problem yet again and I fail to understand why our opponents seem able to attract and hire coaches at will that are able to produce extremely motivated O & D teams that on face value aren’t near the caliber of atheletes that we recruit yet constantly perform beyond expectation.  What gives?

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