Nebraska junior quarterback Taylor Martinez insists his left ankle is still a little dinged up, and has been since late in the first half of the Michigan game. Opposing defenses just wouldn’t know it.
Martinez has run 32 times for 309 yards in the two weeks since the game against the Wolverines, repeatedly getting the Huskers out of jams on third down. He’s only 104 yards shy of eclipsing his rushing total from last year, which he achieved in 13 games. Martinez also notched his first two career 100-yard rushing games in the month of November.
“I try to tell Taylor to protect yourself and be smart,” coach Bo Pelini said. “I think he has matured as a runner, too. I think he understands, like you saw him the other day when he dropped his shoulder and got a first down, I think he understands when to and when not to. When to play himself open for a hit and when not to, and that comes with experience and maturity.”
Offensive coordinator Tim Beck agreed that Martinez has become a smarter runner. His improved efficiency as a passer has helped, as well.
“He’s seeing things easier and better, he’s making more good decisions,” Beck said. “We’re able to use him more. He’s running better ... his productivity as a thrower helps us. His accuracy, his efficiency.”
Opposites Martinez, Martin form bond
Martinez and defensive end Eric Martin might both hail from California, but they are clearly on the opposite ends of the personality spectrum. Which, Martinez said, helps make them best friends and good roommates.
“Opposites make the right fitting,” said Martinez, who came in with Martin but redshirted while Martin played his true freshman year on special teams.
Said Martin: “I’ve been with him through the most. I think he’s a real good dude and has a bright, bright future ahead of him.”
Martin is the only player about whom Martinez is willing to crack the slightest joke.
“He’s obnoxious, and I’m not really,” Martinez said at his press conference Monday.
Martin laughed and said he’d get Martinez back for that comment in the locker room.
“We’re very different,” Martin said. “He likes country music; I like rap. We can’t sit in the same room together listening to music. He likes to watch Disney Channel, I like to watch ‘Family Guy’ and Comedy Central, so we definitely can’t be in the same room. He snores at night, and I don’t. So it’s kind of a love-hate relationship.”
Big season helps build Abdullah’s confidence
With six 100-yard rushing games this season — and four consecutive — Nebraska I-back Ameer Abdullah’s found something he may have lacked last season.
“I think I have more confidence,” Abdullah said Monday.
Abdullah turned a career-high 31 carries into 116 yards against Penn State, pushing his season total to 942. The sophomore said he still needs to work on his patience, but thinks he has proved he can be more than just a speed back.
“I can run in between the tackles,” he said.