Bad interceptions of Taylor Martinez (like this one by Travis Lewis in the 2010 Big XII Championship Game) were a less frequent occurrence in the later stages of the 2011 season. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
This week, Steven M. Sipple of the Lincoln Journal-Star revisited the topic of Taylor Martinez working with California quarterback guru Steve Calhoun. It's a story the World-Herald had covered a month ago as well as in the spring, so at first glance, it looks like Sipple is running a month or so behind his competition. (We covered it here as well.) There was a new tidbit in Sipple's article, pointing out that former Husker defensive back Ralph Brown connected Martinez's father to Calhoun. The bad part of the rehashing of the article wasn't so much pointing out Martinez's hard work.
It was refocusing national attention on Martinez's poor fundamentals. We've seen it ourselves. Martinez would step back in the pocket and somehow manage to launch the ball downfield. It was ugly...but more often than not, effective...especially as the season progressed. At the end of 2011, it seemed that drops by his receivers were a bigger problem than Martinez's fundamentals. The ball was getting there...somehow...but the catch wasn't being made.Sometimes the national guys didn't catch that. They looked at season-long statistics, saw a few highlights and ugly still photos, and ran with their impressions. Take Matt Hinton of CBSsports.com, who went online to say "Taylor Martinez has 'progressively got worse' as a passer. Can he still turn the corner?"
Has Martinez gotten "progressively worse"? Not from what I've seen. The quote about "progressively worse" came from Calhoun, with respect to his fundamentals. I'll buy that. But the end result has gotten better for the most part. Martinez's late season numbers in his freshman year were skewed downward due to his injury...but his numbers earlier in the season were skewed upward by that Oklahoma State performance where the Cowboys just didn't play defense.
And certainly his early season performances in 2011 weren't anything to write home about, culminating in that Wisconsin game. But Martinez got better...a lot better...as the season went on. Completion rates of 73%, 59%, 54%, 76%, 50%, 39%, 55%, and 63% as the season finished up. Yeah, that Michigan game was ugly...but that was ugly all around. Would Nebraska have beaten Ohio State without Martinez? Probably not.
And ball security is one of those things Martinez improved on. Only two interceptions after the Wisconsin game, and many fewer fumbles. He was better, period.
Yet Hinton states the opposite...and then questions whether a junior can improve from his sophomore year. I understand Hinton hasn't seen Martinez since he went to a quarterback coach...nobody really has. But to make the statement that it's too late for Martinez is one of the more cynical things I've read in recent months.
The proof is in the results, and so it's all speculation in the summertime. It's one thing to have an opinion and speculate as to how improved footwork could benefit Martinez, but to flat out dismiss the possibility (if not the outright likelihood) that Martinez will be better this season is beyond cynical.
It's downright misleading.