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Husker Football Monday Press Conference: Adrian Martinez Is the Starting QB vs Ohio State

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I also explain why I think Nebraska’s apparent rebellion this offseason may actually bring us closer into the fold of the Big Ten Conference.

Iowa v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

The team captains and head coach Scott Frost met with the media today. The biggest announcement was, of course, that Adrian Martinez will again be the starter at quarterback. It sound like he and Luke McCaffrey were neck and neck with experience being the edge for Adrian. Defensive back Javin Wright has a torn MCL and will likely miss the season.

As always, these are not exact quotes. I am typing in real time and doing the best I can to capture what is being said. If it is important that something is clarified, let me know in the comments and I can get the exact wording.

One thing that stood out to me when the players talked was their focus on doing their job and knowing their assignment. They weren’t bragging. They weren’t talking about it as something they still need to do. They seemed ‘there’. They seemed to know what it would take.

We’ve heard some version of this before. Hell, we hear some version of it every year, but there was a different tone from these players than in the past. It is hard for me to explain, but I am intrigued to see if this quiet confidence in knowing their role and where they need to be will be manifested on the field.

Time will tell.

Scott Frost

On the depth chart and who is the starting quarterback:

We’re not going to announce much for depth chart. Adrian’s going to be our quarterback.

On the ‘weird’ year and how it affect preparations for all teams, not just Nebraska, and if that has led to increases in special teams mistakes.

It does seem like people are scoring more points overall. I expect OSU to be ready. We’re going to be ready. I expect good play on both sides of the ball.

You heard stories about teams not doing live tackling. I didn’t need to hear that to know it was a bad ideas. Also, don’t get punts blocked.

Jeff Brohm at Purdue has tested positive for COVID. If you had to have someone coach for you who would it be?

We’ve talked about it internally. We know how we’d handle it. I don’t think I’d announce it unless it happened. We have a lot of guys that could handle it.

How has the team been doing with the testing? Do you have any opt-outs or test-outs to report?

No opt-outs or test-outs. We’ve been at this for a while. The guys aren’t really afraid of this virus, so we have to make sure they are doing things the right way. The testing is less onerous than I thought. The people assigned to it are doing a great job working with us. I come to work, go to practice, go to meetings, get tested and go home. We’re in as safe an environment as possible.

I think this question was aimed at figuring out if Omar Manning was still part of the Huskers’ plans for 2020. But we have an answer:

There was also a comment later in the presser where he mentioned that they’ve had enough positive tests and those testing positive for antibodies that they shouldn’t have an issue with having too many active cases and not meeting Big Ten protocols. That is a good/bad thing I think?

Who is on scholarship?

I have three I can announce. Luke Reimer. Kade Warner. Damien Jackson. We have one more we’ll probably award soon (this week). Those three have earned it. Luke has done great things on the field. Damien has turned himself into a player who can help us on the field as well as off. Kade’s a captain he has earned this.

Nebraska and Ohio State and Iowa were the most vocal about reinstating football. What are your thoughts about this matchup, and the scheduling for the Huskers?

I don’t think it [schedule] was a coincidence. Overall, it is great, you find allies in places you didn’t expect. They [OSU] helped tremendously. We fought because we thought it was the right thing to do - we could do it in a safe manner. We kept finding ways. We’re grateful to them for doing the same thing. It’s two teams that have wanted to play each other all along. I said they were one of the best teams [2019 Buckeyes] we’ve ever been on a field with. I thought we did a good job keeping the game close for about 5 minutes [smile].

The question specifically included Iowa, but the answer was all about the Buckeyes. Sorry Iowa. Also Coach Frost mentioned at other times that if you are looking for excuses not to play, you’ll find them and if you look for ways forward you’ll find them. I don’t know if that was aimed at the conference office or at a subset of teams in the Big Ten...I’ll stop there.

The players seem excited and relieved it is game week - what are your thoughts?

I’m excited it’s here. There were times we thought we were fighting a losing battle - we were practicing for nothing. It’s been a battle. Ohio State led the battle, we’ve been in lockstep with them. I’m going to root for them in every game except this one. Our kids are excited to play. We’re excited. There were moments we didn’t think we’d get here.

As a person who looks for undercurrents and looks for shifts in cohesion and teamwork, I am really excited to see what evolved between Nebraska and Ohio State. I know that there was a whole brew-ha-ha about Nebraska leaving the B1G blah blah blah, but I suspect that this offseason may have cemented the Huskers as a part of the conference in a way they weren’t before. Scott Frost has found his way and his place in the coaching fraternity of the B1G in way he didn’t before. We should be excited about this development and the step in leadership our head coach took.

Captains - why do you think those five?

They’ve all done a good job leading. The coaches haven’t been able to be involved at times this offseason and they stepped in. There are a lot of players who were deserving and got votes. These five ended up out front.

Battle at running back? Have young guys emerged?

We feel good about it. We’re going to be green at a few positions. As a coach you want to get old and stay old. This is the third year now where we have positions where we don’t have a lot of experience. Dedrick has experience, but everyone else is green. I think we have a lot of guys we can use.

This answer was not reassuring to me.

How about Ryan Day - did you feel kinship through this process [fighting to play the season]?

I talked to him a lot. I feel like we developed a closer relationship. I have to give credit to OSU. We were a sounding gong, but their doctor took the lead and they really brought together a plan to get us back to doing what we should have been doing. They found a way to play instead of looking for reasons we shouldn’t.

What was the separator at QB? how much was experience?

I don’t know how much separation there is. I feel we have two first string quarterbacks. If Luke had been the one already playing and we had the same camp, it would have been Luke.

If I said think OSU’s defensive front isn’t as good as last year - what do you say?

Chase Young is hard to replace, but they get 4 and 5 star guys all the time. I’d argue with you if you told me they weren’t as good.

Do you have any injuries to report?

Javin Wright (defensive back) had an MCL tear and we’ll probably be missing him for the year.

Kade Warner - He-of-the-amazing-moustache

He was the first one up in the presser and I missed most of the questions. One that came as I entered was about how it felt to be named a captain. He didn’t expect to be one. Obviously, he is excited to be in that position.

When asked about live reps in practice

I’m excited to hit someone else. I’m excited for live tackling and to finish blocks. We’ve hit each other long enough. We’re ready to hit someone else.

Dicaprio Bootle - Elder Statesman of the DB Room

What did it mean for you to become a captain?

It means a lot that the guys respect me. I’ve paid my dues being here and worked my way up the totem pole. Going after it year by year and day by day. I think they see me as someone they an lean on that will have their best interests and give them direction. It means the most that the guys saw me as a leader.

With all the uncertainty and it being your final year - what are your emotions like?

I knew the guys were down at one point because we didn’t know if we’d have football. Now, we’re here at game week. We have to come in with the intent to execute our assignments. It feels good. we fought for this and we feel good we get to play.

From a satellite camp to team captain is quite a story. How did Nebraska discover you? And how did you pick them?

The camp in Miami was on my radar because the coaches at Rutgers wanted me to go. So I thought I could pick up an offer from them. I saw other schools were there too. I didn’t have many offers at the time, no big offers. I don’t know why I didn’t, but I kept working. After I ran a 4.3 40, they [Nebraska] were watching me, and later in the week I got an offer from them. I came up for a visit. After that, there was no where else for me to choose, this place was unmatched. I was still a nobody when I got here, and I had to work hard. Scout team, trying to get a look. That made me get better. After I got my first Blackshirt, I never looked back. I keep working hard and try to be a model to everybody. sometimes it takes time and faith.

What was it like before the Big Ten decided to play and then after, mentally?

Before the Big Ten came back a couple of us, the DBs, were trying to find ways we could workout so we could stay on top of things, we encouraged each other that it might pick back up and we needed to be ready. We worked out sometimes 3 or 4 or 5 times a day so we could make up for what we were missing. Once the Big Ten came back it was just counting down days. Being dialed into our assignment and executing what we’re doing.

What were you doing on those multiple workouts?

It wasn’t just one thing, sometimes it was just 30 minutes to just work on something. We made sure to lift every day and do some conditioning each day and some technique stuff each day. If somebody missed, they had to make it up. That speaks volumes about the guys in our room.

This is a very telling story. We have been told over and over that the DBs were a leadership group on the team, but this is impressive.

Collin Miller - Finally Found a Home at ILB

ALERT ALERT ALERT - BLACKSHIRT QUESTION INCOMING!

Did you get Blackshirts?

No, we are still waiting

Well, that was anti-climatic.

What does it mean to be a captain?

It means the world, my teammates voted me...my jaw dropped. I’m their role model and am a part of how to go about getting the program back to what it was. There were a lot of guys it could have been, seniors, great characters, it could have been a lot of people. Hearing my name, it was good.

At what point during the uncertainty, wondering if you’d even have a senior year, how did you deal with it?

It was hard. We got good news. Then bad news. It was tough for the seniors. We were wondering about eligibility, would we get to play. Would there be fans. Thankfully we get to play. It was tough for a bit, working out and not knowing what was next.

You’ve moved positions. When did you feel like you developed as a leader and find your footing?

When I got here and signed with Coach Hughes as the d-line coach - he wasn’t even here when I got here. At first I was going up against all these big guys on the d-line. I was undersized and I tried to use my speed. I think coming in that way helped me...with my pass rushing and playing in the trenches. Moving to OLB under Diaco - that was a whole another set of coaches. And now Coach Frost and new position coaches. Every coach taught me a lot. I learned from all of them. Being a leader came to me as I got comfortable playing ILB was not a coincidence. It’s hard to be a leader when you’re trying to learn, but once you know the position, you can take on more leadership. I’ve had great leaders - mentors.

I had forgotten about all of this. I’ll be pulling for Collin even more after hearing this.

Adrian Martinez

How about playing in an empty stadium?

It will be bizarre. It will be an adjustment, but we practice that way, so we’ll be ready. If you need extra excitement...you maybe aren’t ready to play. It doesn’t matter if fans are there, we’ll be ready to play.

What’s it like being a captain a second year?

I’m honored. It’s an honor to be voted by your teammates. I’m going to continue to be the leader I know I can be.

What impact did Nebraska players/coaches have on getting football back?

I’d say there were several players and coaches and programs that influenced it. Nebraska was one of the first. I applaud our program and leadership and administration in speaking up and fighting for us.

What is it like preparing for the OSU defense without film?

It’s different. I haven’t opened up against a Big Ten opponent in past years here. There’s some new players. We’ll have to go off some of last year’s stuff. I know we’ll just keep preparing and be confident going in Saturday.

Matt Farniok - Tackle Turned Guard and Four-Year Starter

What kind of improvement have you seen from Adrian - how is he different?

I’m happy for him. He’s gotten a lot better at making the right reads and trusting the pocket. As a line, we’ve been working so that he trusts us to give him time to do his job.

Greg Austin set the expectation for your room - what do you think of starting with OSU?

It’s awesome. They are a high caliber team. They haven’t played a game, but they are a top 5 team. Those are the type of guys you want to play and see where you stand.

The o-line is regarded as a strong suit on the team. Do you feel like you’ve had a good run of practices up to the opener?

I think we are coming together as a unit. With so much time playing together, we understand how we want to get behind each other in our blocks...trying to mesh and come together as a cohesive unit.

How about the transition to guard?

I like it. The biggest adjustment is that everything happens faster. There isn’t as much space. It is more of a power type game, which is more fun for me.

What looks and feels different around the guys knowing that it [game week] is finally here.

We get out of this groundhog day. Finally, we’re here. We’ve taken all the right steps. We’re excited. We’ve been waiting months for this. everyone can’t wait.

Greg Austin is now run game coordinator - what difference do you think we’ll see?

Hard hitting, earn-your-yards type ofnruns. We’re going to try to win the line and press it for as many yards as we can.

What have you seen from the guys behind Dedrick Mills? The young running backs, their approach and how they are running?

They are excited. They do a good job reading the holes. At first I thought they’d be a little squirrely and try to outrun everyone. but they’ve been great at understanding where the holes are and hitting them.

I can’t think of a better answer to end this article with. What did you notice in the remarks? Let me know in the comments!