Wednesday's football: Martinez starting to figure it out at Nebraska

By Eric Olson
Associated Press
Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez set school freshman records with 384 yards passing and 441 yards of total offense last week.

Lincoln, Neb. — Four starts into his career, Nebraska’s Adrian Martinez already is showing signs of blossoming into the next standout quarterback coached by Scott Frost.

Frost has mentored some of the nation’s best: 2014 Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota and 2015 pass efficiency leader Vernon Adams as Oregon’s offensive coordinator, and McKenzie Milton as head coach of the Central Florida team that went from winless to unbeaten in two years.

“I told you guys I’m always careful about making comparisons, but he’s doing some things like quite a few of the special guys I’ve been around,” Frost said. “There’s no way I would have been ready to do what he’s doing right now as an 18-year-old. It says a lot about who he is as a person.”

Martinez’s 0-4 record as the starter — he missed the Cornhuskers’ loss to Troy because of an injury —belies the individual numbers he has posted.

He set school freshman records with 384 yards passing and 441 yards of total offense in last week’s 41-24 loss at No. 15 Wisconsin. It was his second straight game with more than 400 yards of total offense.

He has completed 59.7 percent of his passes for 229 yards per game, with five touchdowns and three interceptions. His rushing average of 63.3 yards ranks second among Big Ten quarterbacks, behind Penn State’s Trace McSorley, and would be higher if it weren’t for 10 sacks.

What makes Martinez so dangerous in Frost’s no-huddle spread-option offense is his ability to extend plays with his legs.

He has repeatedly scrambled out of trouble, and he’s elusive on designed runs. On his signature run of the season, a 41-yarder for a touchdown in the opener against Colorado, he juked a cornerback in the backfield before taking off down the sideline and somersaulting into the end zone.

At that moment, he said, his confidence skyrocketed. On the previous possession, he had fumbled.

“It was just me playing football and I realized I can do these things,” he said. “I needed to be a little bit smarter with the way I was running the ball a little bit. Obviously, I still need to fix some of my ball security issues that I’m having, but knowing that I can play. I can play at this level and do it well.”

Do it well?

That’s an understatement to Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, who will see Martinez up close Saturday when the Cornhuskers visit the Wildcats.

“He’s a magician right now,” Fitzgerald said. “He makes a lot of things happen. He’s very talented with his arm, obviously athletic and makes a lot of guys miss and is very impressive to watch.”

Extra points

Wisconsin receiver Quintez Cephus is suing the school because he says a disciplinary probe it is conducting while he’s trying to defend himself in a criminal sexual assault case violates his rights.

Cephus was suspended from the Badgers in August after he was charged with sexually assaulting two drunken women in his apartment. Cephus says the sex was consensual .

Cephus filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday alleging that a university disciplinary investigation against him launched in May is unfair because he can’t participate in it without potentially harming his criminal defense, the Wisconsin State Journal reported .

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for emotional and psychological harm and past and future economic losses, claiming Cephus is a likely high NFL draft pick.

University spokeswoman Meredith McGlone said school officials haven’t reviewed the lawsuit but believe their investigatory process complies with federal law.

... Pittsburgh senior linebacker Quintin Wirginis will miss the rest of the season after injuring his knee during practice.

Coach Pat Narduzzi said Wirginis was hurt in a non-contact drill Tuesday.

Wirginis leads the Panthers in tackles (41), tackles for loss (7.0) and sacks (3) and is tied for the lead in forced fumbles (2). Wirginis racked up eight tackles, a sack and a forced fumble that was returned for a touchdown by teammate Dane Jackson.