Nebraska Cornhuskers 2020 Spring Practice Positional Preview: Quarterbacks

Adrian Martinez will work with a new offensive coordinator this spring as he looks to bounce back from a disappointing sophomore season

As Nebraska has worked to implement a new dual-threat look at the quarterback position under Scott Frost over the past two years, there's been no shortage of growing pains. Last season provided perhaps the most yet. But Frost has managed to do an excellent job recruiting extremely talented athletes who are clearly excited to potentially take over the reins of the Cornhuskers' offense.

 

2019 Summary

 

Last season saw Adrian Martinez take up the starting role yet again to no surprise. What was cause for concern, at least initially, was the handling of both high and low snaps from brand-new center Cameron Jurgens. However, the rookie offensive lineman would finally find his groove.

 

Martinez continued to struggle, though. His completion rate dipped (59.4 percent versus 64.6 in 2018) while his offensive output also took a hit. While he finished with roughly the same rushing yardage, his production through the air dropped by 661 yards. It comes as no surprise that his touchdown-to-interception ratio also took a hit from 17:8 as a freshman to 10:9 last season.

 

Martinez also got banged up enough that backups Noah Vedral and Luke McCaffrey had to step in with Vedral making a couple of starts. While both performed admirably, the overall lack of consistency at quarterback made a rough situation worse and resulted in a start-and-stop identity for Frost's offense.

 

Still, the two backups did show playmaking ability with McCaffrey occasionally being used as a wide receiver in an effort to get him on the field as much as possible.

 

Key Departures: None

 

Key Returnees for 2020: Adrian Martinez (Jr.), Noah Vedral (Jr.), Luke McCaffrey (So.)

 

2020 Outlook

 

Nebraska arguably has one of its best quarterback depth charts in recent memory. Martinez and Vedral are both now upperclassmen while McCaffrey and incoming true freshman Logan Smothers are clearly the future of this program in Frost's eyes.

 

The biggest question is, of course, was what Martinez experienced a sophomore slump or an indication that he may not be the answer Frost was looking for?

 

However, with an offensive line that started to gel and showed improvement down the stretch and another offseason to study the playbook and heal, we may see a completely rejuvenated No. 2 ready to torment opposing defenses once more. While he did lose a potential new target in Darien Chase to transfer, a stuffed wide receiver room should provide Martinez with some new weapons.

 

A quarterback competition this spring may be just what's called for to reinforce morale and help Martinez find a new lease on life with a freshly-sharpened competitive edge. It also should help the quarterbacks get on the same page with new offensive coordinator Matt Lubick.

 

Assuming the roster remains intact, Nebraska should have several signal-callers comfortable with running the offense.

 

Position Grade for 2020: B+

 

— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, FWAA member and part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to follow him on Twitter (@eightlaces) and enjoy the Big Red Three and Out Podcast. To contact him, click here.

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