UW Huskies Insider

Bolt of lightning to Nebraska offense is new dual-threat quarterback

Post by Todd Milles / The News Tribune on Sep. 13, 2010 at 2:31 pm with No Comments »
September 13, 2010 4:58 pm
UW receiver Kevin Smith slips while running a route (but still gets his hand on the pass) Monday.

Eric Crouch … Tommie Frazier … Scott Frost … Gerry Gdowski … Turner Gill … and now this guy.

Taylor Martinez.

He’s not just the next starting quarterback at sixth-ranked and undefeated Nebraska, who visit Seattle for a Saturday play date against the University Washington at Husky Stadium

Martinez is the next great offensive threat running the show – and as a redshirt freshman.

“He’s really, really, REALLY fast,” UW safety Nate Williams said. “Kind of reminds me of Jake (Locker).”

“By far, the best athlete of the quarterbacks we’ve seen so far,” UW linebacker Cort Dennison said. “The way when he gets into the open field, he’s one of the fastest quarterbacks we’ve ever seen on film. When he gets his feet set, he does a really good job of finding an open receiver. We’re going to have our hands full.”

Right now, the running is ahead of the passing.

Last week against Idaho, Martinez rushed 14 times for 157 yards and two touchdowns – fifth-most by a Cornhuskers freshman and 10th-most by a Nebraska quarterback.

He now has back-to-back 100-yard rushing games to start 2010.

UW coach Steve Sarkisian has known of Martinez from his high school days at Centennial High School in Corona, Calif.

“I knew him very well. We recruited him; we looked at him hard. He’s a tremendous athlete. He led his high school team, Corona Centennial, to a state championship and a 15-0 season. … I was actually was at the championship game, the one to win the CIF championship, I went to that ball game. He’s a talented kid, a great athlete,” Sarkisian said. “I think it was somewhat of a steal for Nebraska because I think so many people viewed him as just an athlete, and possibly people were recruiting him as a safety or different position, and not just a quarterback.”

Hmm … sound familiar, UW fans?

Other tidbits from Monday:

• This week has a similar feeling to the third week of last season when Southern California came to town.

The Huskies pulled up a 16-13 upset in the final seconds.

“The best thing about it is our players won’t be in awe of the moment,” Sarkisian said. “We won’t be in awe of them coming out or their helmets or their fans. I think our players have been there before, and they’ll feel comfortable in that environment, they’ll feel comfortable in Husky Stadium. They’ll feel good if we’re in a tight ball game with them.”

• For being one of the team’s offseason MVPs, Chris Izbicki has underwhelmed in his contributions to the passing game, as have the tight ends, in general.

Marlion Barnett leads the group with two receptions – all coming last week against Syracuse. Izbicki had his one catch early in the season opener at Brigham Young. Michael Hartvigson, the true freshman from Bothell thought to be the best pass-catcher in the trio, has not had a reception so far.

“Our playmakers right now are our wide receivers and our running backs. I’m not going to force an issue not to get them the ball to get it somewhere else,” Sarkisian said. “Part of it has to do with some of the schemes we are facing and where opportunities lie. And the third thing is, we’ve had some opportunities and the ball just hasn’t quite gone there.

“In time, that number I think will grow as we face different teams and people play us a little differently.”

• Some injury stuff. Locker had his left hand wrapped up Saturday night after he jammed it into a defender’s helmet against Syracuse. Sarkisian does not expect it to be a lingering issue. … Defensive tackle Cameron Elisara (leg) might be limited a day or so with his quadriceps contusion, but isn’t in jeopardy of missing the game Saturday. … Running back Johri Fogerson (upper leg), who missed last week with a hamstring ailment, is coming along slowly.

Then there was this, in a very serious tone from Sarkisian about another key performer.

“I’d like to see James Johnson get healthy,” the second-year coach said. “That’s a guy I’d really like to get into the fold, and the game plan.”

• As mentioned in the previous post, true freshman Sean Parker has been elevated to one of the starters on the kickoff return team, along with Callier.

“Not having Johri last week didn’t help. We really went in having Chris (Polk) and Jesse (Callier), and you take a couple (injury) hits on kickoff return, now we’re really thin,” Sarkisian said. “I wanted to take that off of (Polk) there because of Johri being out. Sean did that in high school – he was a kickoff return guy. And then if he doesn’t get the ball, he’s such a physical kid he can be a great lead blocker, so that is why he’s back there.”

** MONDAY PRACTICE: Not much to tell on a relative warm midafternoon workout. Jake Locker (left hand) practiced without limitations, and appeared sharp on all the types of throws offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier was asking him to make. … Running back Chris Polk did not practice, but rode the stationary bike. UW officials said it was not injury-related, and strictly an effort to get him rest. … Running back Johri Fogerson (upper leg) did not work out with the team. He did some light stretching. … There seems to be a growing impatience with receiver James Johnson‘s slow (and I mean, SLOW) recovery from a sprained ankle, suffered at the midway point of training camp. The sophomore dropped a ball early in individual drills, and was called out. … True freshman Deontae Cooper (left knee) was back at practice after having surgery last week to repair two torn ligaments.

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