When Nebraska head coach Scott Frost started addressing the injury quarterback Adrian Martinez sustained versus Colorado, it seems liked he was ready to pen the newest book on how to spin players’ suffering. However, as time has gone on, he apparently feels more comfortable with being somewhat open about the topic when necessary. With recent comments offered to the press, there’s a case to be made that Martinez’s absence against Troy may be the start of a trend.
I’ll preface the remainder of this article by saying I am not an orthopedic doctor or surgeon nor do I attempt to play one on television. This is merely my best attempt at connecting the dots and offering up a deduction based on one of several ways Frost could go.
During his weekly press conference a week ago, Frost reported that there was “no real ligament damage at all” to Martinez’s knee. Prior to the game against Troy — a contest Martinez took absolutely no snaps in despite the Huskers’ need for an offensive spark — he wore a brace on the affected knee.
Following the game, Frost was asked about whether or not he even considered playing Martinez. He responded, “No, Adrian wasn’t ready to go today. Look, he’s going to be here a long time, and our decision will be made based on his long-term health more than anything. That wasn’t an option.”
On Sept. 17, Frost reported that Martinez practiced — to what extent we have no idea — but Frost made more comments to tack onto his statement following the Troy game. “The key is going to be if there's any added danger to further injury,” he said while also noting he and the staff will be putting the best interests of Martinez and the team before all. “Until I hear from trainers that he’s progressed to a point that there’s no risk of further injury, then we’d be foolish to play him.”
Taking all of these remarks into account, I consulted the Iowa Orthopedic Journal looking for the most common knee injuries among young athletes. According to the IOJ, the MCL presents the most problematic ligament. If we settle on trouble with the MCL as a foundation, we must next attempt to determine the severity of Martinez’s injury.
The “grade” system is broken down simply: the higher the grade, the bigger the problem.
Initial treatment of the injury is where the picture begins to get clearer. For grade II and III injuries, the use of a knee brace is encouraged. We’ve seen Martinez using one within a week of the injury. Crutches are also mentioned as a possibility, but he appears able to walk without noticeable pain or a limp which makes me think we’re not dealing with a worst-case scenario. Especially since Frost called the news about Martinez’s knee immediately following the Colorado game “semi-encouraging.”
According to the University of California-San Francisco, the standard recovery time for a grade II MCL sprain is two to four weeks. We’re already a week into that time frame. Considering the frequent talk of Martinez’s long-term health by Frost, keeping the true freshman on the shelf as long as possible seems likely if not probable.
Keeping true to the UCSF timeline, he’d skip the Michigan game at the very least. Purdue provides Nebraska with a good opportunity to pick up a win, especially if the Huskers can clean up their technique, turnovers and penalties. That leads us to Wisconsin.
Nebraska plays the Badgers at the end of the UCSF timeline. Considering the Huskers’ athletic medicine staff is extremely talented, having him ready for a huge matchup in the Big Red’s eyes doesn’t seem too far-fetched.
Again, it’s important to point out that all this is an attempt to logically piece together what is publicly available.
In the interest of being safe rather than sorry, having Martinez on the sidelines seems like the best option in a year where the Huskers are clearly going to take some lumps. How long he stays there is a mystery, but after conducting some research and combining it with Frost’s comments, this writer doesn’t anticipate him participating in live action any time soon.
— Written by Brandon Cavanaugh, FWAA member and part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Be sure to follow him on Twitter (@eightlaces), and keep up with the Quick N Dirty podcasts on his Patreon page.