No, it wasn't skiing or the beach, at least as far as we know. After practice Monday, Bo Pelini said that the team spent the 10 days they had off working on the things they were asked to. There wasn't any rust or sluggishness (hangovers?) that the coaches observed.
The most interesting Spring Break story was Taylor Martinez spending a week with quarterback guru Steve Calhoun. One of the biggest criticism of Martinez over the last year and a half has been his throwing motion; his footwork and arm motion sometimes makes fans wonder how he can hit the broad side of a barn. Martinez won the quarterback job with his legs, not his arm. He's got a strong arm, mind you...it's just a raw, untrained arm.
Some dismiss that notion: Martinez is a third year junior who's a two year starter. He's of legal drinking age; he's no kid anymore. All that is true, but let's not forget that Martinez has really only been a quarterback for four years. He played in the secondary prior to switching to quarterback as a high school junior, then spent his redshirt year at Nebraska bouncing from position to position. So it's no surprise that his fundamentals are horrible.Some fans sound the alarm that Martinez had to leave the program to get this type of tutoring, but that's not the fault of the Nebraska staff. NCAA rules limit the amount of instructional time the coaches can spend with players. So that's where gurus like Calhoun come in handy. During his three days with Calhoun, Martinez also worked with Washington's Keith Price and Nevada's Cody Fajardo. In past years, Calhoun has worked with Matt Leinart and Cam Newton on their fundamentals.
Let's ratchet down the expectations about what three days of extra quarterback coaching can solve. Anybody who's ever taken a golf lesson knows that sometimes changing your mechanics makes you play worse, not better, initially. Calhoun limited his instruction to footwork in this session; don't be surprised if they work on his throwing motion over the summer. Put this together, and perhaps we'll see Martinez be a more efficient passer next season.
That doesn't mean more wins and fewer losses by itself. Martinez's fundamentals had nothing to do with defensive breakdowns that led to losses against Wisconsin and South Carolina. But if Martinez can get his completion percentage over 60%, more drives will end in scores rather than punts. If he's more efficient in those intermediate throws, we might see more drives ending in the end zone instead of settling for field goals. Open up the passing game and the running game opens up. More efficient offense keeps the defense off the field, and may help Nebraska withstand a defensive breakdown.
Can Martinez be a better quarterback? We saw improvement between his freshman and sophomore seasons. There's no reason to expect even more improvement in 2012. And maybe that will finally break the Husker fans' manic-depressive opinion on Martinez.