LINCOLN — Speaking to reporters for the first time in a month, Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez had one proclamation about the left knee injury that sidelined him the last two games.
“I feel physically ready,” the sophomore said. “And I expect to go.”
The top two Husker quarterbacks stopped for interviews following Tuesday’s practice, with Noah Vedral drawing a crowd to Martinez’s right inside the Hawks Center. But it was the preseason Heisman candidate who changed the outlook for NU’s next game at Purdue by declaring himself ready to perform.
Martinez said he didn’t fear the worst when he went down with the injury late in the Northwestern game. But he couldn’t run or cut on the knee, either.
Now the starter plans to resume his on-field role at Purdue, crediting coaches and trainers for limiting him in recent weeks. He didn’t like sitting out, but added that he gained something from the time. The knee feels “ready to go,” too.
Sign up for World-Herald news alerts
Be the first to know when news happens. Get the latest breaking headlines sent straight to your inbox.
“It’s allowed my body to recover, it’s allowed me to recover,” Martinez said. “And I’m back ready to go. I feel like my arm’s juiced up and everything’s recuperated. I’m ready to be back and I’m fired up.”
Martinez praised the play of backups Vedral and Luke McCaffrey, taking particular joy in the “Luuuuke!” chants from the Memorial Stadium crowd Saturday. He said his aim was to help his fellow QBs as much as possible while he was unable to play.
He didn’t dress for the Minnesota game, instead wearing a heavy coat and watching the quarterbacks warm up. He was in full uniform for Indiana and went through full pregame routines but was later revealed to be only an “emergency” option.
“There’s always something to draw from the experience,” Martinez said. “I was just trying to be the best teammate I could be.”
McCaffrey walked past after not practicing in pads Tuesday. Meanwhile, Martinez fielded questions about quarterback depth and Monday’s players meeting with coach Scott Frost.
Vedral said he’ll “be all right” after his lower-body injury Saturday. He added that the bye week helped the offense execute at its best pace of the season.
Martinez, who donned a headset for most of the game, also saw a crisper tempo in the attack. Although the unit topped 500 total yards, two turnovers allowed the game to slip away.
“We shot ourselves in the foot,” Martinez said. “That’s kind of been the story of the season offensively.”