With Vedral’s improvement, McCaffrey’s potential, Huskers show they have viable options behind Martinez
Matt Masker spotted Wyatt Liewer behind a pair of defensive backs along the west sideline and hit the walk-on from O’Neill in stride for a 55-yard touchdown and the second-longest play of the day.
It got the crowd of 85,946 going. It got Adrian Martinez going, too.
“I was going nuts,” Martinez said after Saturday’s Red-White Spring Game at Memorial Stadium.
There was a slight problem. Masker played for the White Team. Martinez was on the Red Team.
It didn’t matter. Martinez loved it.
“It was tough, because technically we are on the Red Team, but we root for each other in all cases,” Martinez said. “I’m definitely thankful to be a part of such a special group.”
It’s also looking like a deep group.
Martinez, sophomore Noah Vedral and junior Andrew Bunch are getting more comfortable with the playbook. Now throw true freshman Luke McCaffrey into the mix.
“Adrian is clearly a top player in the entire country,” NU coach Scott Frost said. “Noah did some really good things (Saturday) and that’s what we’ve seen all spring. All three of the other guys did some good things, made a couple mistakes here and there and there’s a learning curve there, but I feel good about that room in general.”
The only thing that was more clear than Saturday’s blue sky was this: Martinez is the team’s starting quarterback.
Yet, there was plenty of intrigue with Mario Verduzco’s bunch as the Huskers wrapped up the spring season.
How much more comfortable would Martinez look?
Is there a leader in clubhouse for the top backup spot?
What’s this McCaffrey kid look like?
Martinez, who was limited to one half of action, completed 5 of 9 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown on a roll-out/crossing route to Jaron Woodyard. The sophomore QB also scored a TD on the ground.
Vedral, meanwhile, looked comfortable and sharp working with the Red team. The sophomore from Wahoo completed 13 of 19 passes for 144 yards.
“If we had to play again today, he’d be No. 2,” Frost said when asked if Vedral is No. 2 behind Martinez. “But like I said, every position competition is going to stay open through fall. The other guys have done good things, too, so nobody’s safe in their position until we hit the first game.”
Most 17- and 18-year-olds are preparing for senior prom this time of year. McCaffrey was learning Frost’s offense, and he flashed his potential Saturday, especially his wheels. The Colorado native and early enrollee rushed for 19 yards and threw for 14 yards playing for both the Red and White teams.
“He brings that dual-threat quarterback, and so does Adrian,” NU defensive lineman Khalil Davis said. “Going up against McCaffrey, once you get him off the spot and he starts running, it’s hard. He’s pretty fast and he gives us a good look.”
Sophomore defensive back Cam Taylor also has been impressed by McCaffrey.
“He’s very calm and when you’re around him, you have a good time with him (and) he brings that to the field,” Taylor said. “He brings that energy. I believe this offense is a good fit for him.”
When Saturday’s game came to an end, the quarterbacks, donning their green no-contact jerseys, posed for photos with Verduzco. Photographers flocked for pictures.
They’re pushing for playing time. Pushing Martinez. At the end of the day, they’re family, Martinez said.
“Even though only one guy can be playing at a time, we all want success for each other,” said Bunch, who completed 9 of 21 passes for 80 yards. “I want all the success in the world for Adrian, and Noah, and Luke and Matt.
“There’s a real family atmosphere in that room.”