Adrian Martinez

Adrian Martinez fumbled three times Saturday against Colorado. He lost two of them. 

LINCOLN — Hardly ever has Mario Verduzco had an issue with his quarterbacks putting the ball on the turf.

So this fumble issue with Adrian Martinez the last two years? It’s new.

“I asked him if he had butterfingers,” Verduzco quipped on Wednesday. “We gotta get it corrected.”

Martinez fumbled the ball three times Saturday at Colorado. He lost two of them. Martinez had the second-most fumbles of any player in college football last season.

Verduzco said he didn’t think those issues came from being uncomfortable in the pocket.

“I haven’t noticed any particular issues with that in terms of the evaluation at all,” Verduzco said. “Obviously, the game before this one, his eyes were all over the place. So that was the concern. But he got that corrected and away we go.”

Only three wide receivers have made a catch this year: JD Spielman, Wan’Dale Robinson and Jaevon McQuitty. Verduzco said he doesn’t think Martinez is specifically targeting those guys, but that’s just who is open right now. Offensive coordinator Troy Walters said Wednesday more receivers will play Saturday against Northern Illinois.

“I don’t encourage him, nor do we coach him, in any way shape or form to get the ball to this guy or that,” Verduzco said.

Nebraska’s offense, meanwhile, hasn’t quite hummed like the coaches have wanted. A lot of that is due to struggles on the first few plays of a drive.

Verduzco and coach Scott Frost have talked about getting Martinez more involved on early downs, particularly in the run game.

“Whether that’s a completion and/or a quarterback-designed run to get him going, because he responds to that part of the game that way, getting smacked around a little bit,” Verduzco said. “I think it gets him in rhythm sooner.”

And Martinez, now at 225 pounds, looks to be running more like an I-back than a speedy, scrambling quarterback.

Verduzco loves it.

“He’s a frickin’ Nebraska quarterback, right? And that’s what we want him to be like,” Verduzco said. “He should be a version of No. 7, Coach Frost, really. That’s what we want. We want that. We’re encouraging him to be maybe a little bit more dynamic with that.”

Martinez has taken a lot of flak for Nebraska’s first two offensive performances.

Verduzco said the sophomore has taken it well. That’s his responsibility.

“That’s the nature of the position I coach, and the nature of the position he plays,” Verduzco said. “Assuming it is part of our responsibilities. Right, wrong or indifferent, that’s it.”

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Chris Heady covers Husker football and is the Nebraska men's basketball beat writer. He started at The World-Herald in 2017. Follow him on Twitter @heady_chris. Email: chris.heady@owh.com.

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