LINCOLN — Too many times last year, Taylor Martinez says, he felt like he needed to score for Nebraska to win.
“Now,” he said, “I know that I have so many weapons around me that they could do it also.”
Nebraska's fourth-year quarterback has been working with some of those weapons for three seasons, including star receivers Kenny Bell and Quincy Enunwa. And he seemed to form a bond midway through last season with another receiver, Jamal Turner.
The result is a chemistry and an understanding of Nebraska's offense that's showing up regularly in preseason practice.
“I mean, they do some stuff out there on the field that you kind of shake your head sometimes,” receivers coach Rich Fisher said. “'Wow, OK. They get it. They understand.' ”
They should get it, Enunwa said. “When you're working with each other for three years,” he said, “it kind of just comes naturally.”
It wasn't always that way. For every perfect throw, there was a post-practice session of missed connections.
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For every adjustment into the perfect play, there have been a stockpile of snaps when they weren't on the same page.
The good plays make their way to highlight reels. But Martinez and his receivers remember the failures just as vividly.
Over time, though, they've gained confidence in each other and in coordinator Tim Beck's offense.
When Martinez sees a coverage, he knows receivers are seeing it the same way. Both sides trust that the other will make the correct decision.
“We know what we need to do,” Enunwa said, “and we know how to execute it.”
Fisher said the time in Nebraska's system has allowed quarterbacks and receivers to grasp the ins and outs of the other's position.
In fact, Fisher said, his players learn the offense from a quarterback's point of view.
“So they know exactly what the quarterback's reading,” he said. “They read rotation, they read blitz. They understand the urgency, maybe, of running their route when they know they're going to get it versus blitz or rotation. There's good communication between Taylor and the receivers. And understanding.”