LINCOLN — It’s been a tough sophomore season for Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez.
It’s not that he’s been bad in his second year as the starter. He just hasn’t been as good as many people thought he’d be.
Injuries quite possibly have been part of the problem. Head coach Scott Frost said Martinez hasn’t been truly healthy for much of the season.
He has thrown for 1,712 yards and eight touchdowns in eight games, but those seven interceptions don’t look good on his record. He’s also rushed for 488 yards on 113 carries. His 4.3 yards per carry is close to the 4.5 he had a year ago.
But Martinez has looked hesitant at times. On a third-down play against Purdue he had a chance to scramble for a first down, but instead after rolling out and looking down field he eventually threw the ball away.
As he was coming off the field, Frost was clearly seen saying, “Run the ball.”
It’s tough being the starting quarterback at Nebraska, or any other big-time football program with an expectation of success. It’s particularly difficult now with the popularity of social media.
Everyone has an opinion, and some don’t hesitate to blast a college player on Twitter or Instagram, Facebook or anywhere else.
It used to be you had to write a letter to the editor or call into sports radio to get your opinion out. Not any more. You can even do it in real time as a game is going on.
“Me being honest, when I first got here I loved social media and then kind of over the course of time I don’t even have Twitter on my phone anymore,” Martinez said. “That’s just kind of the way it’s been and it’s been my way of handling it. That’s just how it goes. Especially during the season, you want to try and tune out as much as you can and just focus on the guys inside the stadium.”
Martinez deleted his Twitter account because he said he didn’t want it to be a distraction, and as quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco and Frost say, praise and blame are all the same.
“If you read the good stuff you gotta read the bad stuff,” Martinez said. “I’d rather just take that out of the equation.”
But he does still has Instagram and Snapchat.
“Those are different,” he said. “I try not to read any of the stuff unless something is sent to me from my parents or whatever else.”
Offensive tackle Matt Farniok doesn’t read anything on social media. He said he rarely uses it.
“I think congratulating Wyatt (Mazour for being put on scholarship) was my first tweet in like two years,” Farniok said. “I’m not a big social media guy. If you need to get a hold of me you’ve got my cellphone or you can contact me in person. I’m completely out of the loop on social media.”
That’s probably a good thing after a recent video on Twitter showed Farniok missing a block against Purdue.
In any event, there’s no doubt the team is solidly behind Martinez. Sophomore tight end Austin Allen said nobody really knows what goes on in the locker room, and that’s what matters.
“That’s all we really got is inside these walls,” Allen said. “There’s gonna be people on Twitter that’s gonna (share) their piece of (their) mind about what should have happened on Saturday, what we should have done to win. These coaches know what they’re doing. Adrian knows what he’s doing. He’s a good quarterback. He’ll lock in what he learns what coaches have been telling him.”
Mazour said he just logs off if he wants to tune it all out.
“It’s so easy for some guy sitting behind a computer,” Mazour said. “He can say what he wants. Adrian is a great quarterback. I’ll take Adrian behind the line of scrimmage any day.
“But for me, if I want to tune that out, I’m going to log off of Twitter, log off of Instagram. I have a life outside of football, but for now I think the easiest way to tune that out is just to shut it off.”
We’re talkin’ about sleep
One topic of conversation was a surprise at Monday’s press conference when Frost was asked about the role sleep plays in performance. Frost said it’s really the biggest predictor of performance.
Frost said experts come in and talk to the players and coaches about sleep all the time.
“Really a student-athlete in the middle of the season needs eight or nine hours a night, and that’s hard to get but that can have a lot to do with performance and we try to educate the guys on that a lot,” Frost said. “But at the end of the day we can’t tuck them into bed at night and guys have to care enough about their product on the field and their team to make decisions.”
Frost said strength and conditioning coach Zach Duval and trainer Dave Ellis monitor players sleep habits, but there is no hard and fast rule as to what time players should go to bed.
“We just want guys to be the best they can,” Frost said. “We can monitor it and see how well they are sleeping and how much sleep they are getting. The biggest thing is educating them on how that can affect performance.”
Another losing streak
A year ago, the Huskers lost six straight games to open the season. Now they take a four-game losing streak into Saturday’s game at Maryland.
The Huskers haven’t won since beating Northwestern 13-10 on a last-second field goal on Oct. 5.
Mazour said there are similarities between last year and this year.
“I would say it’s different, but in a lot of ways, it’s kind of the same, which is kind of frustrating because this is year two,” Mazour said. “So we should have started out the year strong and then built off that.”
But Mazour said the attitude on the team has remained good.
“As far as like the attitude goes in the locker room, it’s been really positive, and a lot of guys are really wanting to get this thing moving on the right track,” Mazour said.
Bob Hamar is sports editor for The Independent.