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2019 Nebraska Football Position Breakdown: QUARTERBACKS

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The battle for the 2019 starting job is highly unlikely to prompt any transfers.

NCAA Football: Minnesota at Nebraska
Isn’t it great having QB’s who don’t need to be loaded on trolley and rolled to safety when the blocking breaks down?
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Position Preview – Quarterbacks


Position Coach – Mario Verduzco

Since this fall camp is highly likely to be devoid of a position battle which results in the loser further strengthening the Oregon St roster, let’s spend a little time with Mario Verduzco.

Akron v Nebraska
No stogies at practice.
Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

The Professor.

The stogies.

The shades.

Verduzco – Speak. (My favorite is MSU-ing for Making Shit Up.)

A 2018 nominee for the Frank Broyles Award which goes to the nation’s top assistant coach. (Even though Broyles was best known as Arkansas’ head coach, but ok.)

And finally, author of a 268-page master’s theses entitled “The biomechanics of the quarterback position: a kinematic analysis and integrative approach.”

Yesterday, I wrote about Ryan Held and how badly I want him never to leave Nebraska. For many people, that would go triple for Verduzco. By all accounts, he is generous, friendly, loves to talk football and acts as if moving from Florida to Nebraska is something he dreamed of his whole life. Mario is a skinny dude with an easy smile sporting his John Lennon-esque spectacle shades and a stogie sticking out the side of his mouth. Neither that look nor his laid-back demeanor invite comparisons to Lombardi, Ditka and Shula.

There’s probably a few District 3 voters who mutter about that old “hippie” under their breath, but most have embraced the man from the first day he appeared in front of microphone and that love didn’t exactly slack off after coaching up one of the most prolific quarterbacks in NCAA history (See below).

Oh, the coaching resume.

Mackenzie Milton. Adrian Martinez.

If you’re currently renting a 2-bedroom apartment under a rock, Google search those two for 2016-2018. ‘Nuff said.


Early But Pretty Safe Depth Chart

1) Adrian Martinez – So - 224 Comps 347 Atts 2617 Yds 64.6%/ 17TDs 8 INTs/140 Crrys 629 Yds 8 TDs, 4.5 YPC

First, enjoy some highlights.

I might be going out on a limb here, but when you:

- Set Nebraska season records for total offensive yards, 400 & 300 total yard games (3 & 7)

- Set the Husker single game completion % record (86.2% vs. Minnesota)

- Finish 12th nationally in total offense, #1 among freshmen

- Have your 295.1 YPG be the 9th highest total by a freshman & 3rd highest by a true freshman in NCAA history

- Become the first true freshman ever at a Power 5 conference to average over 290 YPG

- Become the 6th freshman in NCAA history to average 200 yards passing & 50 yards rushing per game, only the 2nd true freshman to do so, and the first ever at Power 5 school?

Yeah. The starting job is yours next season. Let’s move on.

NCAA Football: Bethune Cookman at Nebraska Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

2) Noah Vedral – R So - 2/9 29 Yds 22.2%/ 0 TDs 1 INT/7 Carr 13 Yds 1 TD, 1.9 YPC

The only battle of interest here might be who gets the backup job, Vedral or McCaffrey. I lean toward Vedral for two reasons: 1) I believe McCaffrey will be redshirted which isn’t necessarily a deal breaker with the 4-game limit but also 2) Vedral has two years of tutelage under the system and as the best hurdler in Nebraska in high school (ok, he AND his teammate David Fujan were probably a dead heat), he’s not exactly a statue back there either.

3) Luke McCaffrey – Fr – Rivals 3-star recruit

The above being said, it’s probably a safe bet to take McCaffrey leapfrogging Vedral down the road.

Side note – if you want to kill some time, fire up your internets and Google the coaching staff of Valor Christian HS where McCaffrey played. How many Power 5 schools could they slide into and replace the current staff and probably improve things? That’s some crazy resumes for a high school coaching staff.

4) Andrew Bunch – Jr – 31/47 320Yds 66% / 2 TDs 2 INTs/ 16 Carr 40 Yds, 2.5 YPC

We loved the effort against Troy but his Nebraska highlight tape is likely near complete.

Walk-Ons From Kearney Who Will Not Take a Snap Barring A Run of Injuries Only Rivaled by Omaha Beach on D-Day:

- Matt Masker

- Brayden Miller


Summary

Adrian Martinez goes from not good enough to make 1st, 2nd or 3rd team All Big 10 to Top 5 Heisman candidate on some lists. Since there is no battle for the starting job, let’s talk about that for a minute.

Dwayne Haskins was the clear 1st teamer, no argument there.

Trace McSorley? Please. Martinez crushed him statistically and did it with fewer weapons and an inferior offensive line to Penn State’s. Check Trace McSorley’s stats. The Big 10’s 2nd team quarterback was basically Penn St Tommy Armstrong.

3rd team was David Blough who did throw for 3700 yards, but if one polled the 14 B1G coaches who they’d take last year given a choice between Blough and Martinez, I’d be surprised to hear anyone but Jeff Brohm say “Blough. For sure.”

Also, add in the fact that Blough had Rondale Moore for a target and Martinez didn’t. The way they’re already talking about Wandale Robinson in practice, Martinez might have that dimension this season. I already mentioned sports wood yesterday, so I won’t do it again.

Adrian Martinez should have been 2nd Team All Big 10 in 2018. That is all.

Having the advantage of seeing Mario Verduzco’s interview notes from yesterday and doing my completely untrained best to translate coachspeak, I believe the backup battle is shaking out as per above. Verduzco went out of his way to compliment Vedral on being the QB he remembered at UCF who owned the backup job behind Mackenzie Milton as a true freshman. The other four got the general platitudes about their attitudes, doing good things, etc.

Vedral’s status being up in the air for fall camp and a good chunk of last season had to have an effect as well as cost him snaps with higher units. It appears starting with a solid spring game performance that he is settling in and taking command of the #2 spot.

The bottom line is this – Adrian Martinez must remain healthy. An injury there drops offensive production significantly. I’m not sure how one goes about hiring a hit man without being pinched by an undercover cop, but if another Colorado Buffalo goes for a leg twist on Adrian, I’d be very interested to hear any informed opinions on this.