Who Should Be The Huskers Starting Quarterback

I didn’t want to or honestly expect to be writing this blog, this soon.

The first thing, like literally the first thing Scott Frost did as head coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers was fly to a recruit’s house who had just de-committed from Tennessee. This four star dual threat quarterback recruit was Adrian Martinez.

And when news came that Martinez had committed to Nebraska, many of us thought then and there, “That is our guy.”

Which makes this realization today that much tougher to swallow.

As we sit on the eve of 0-2 Nebraska hosting 0-3 Penn State, we wonder who will be the Huskers starting Quarterback? The question has been asked far and wide across the state and to the highest position of power who could answer it. But either Frost himself does not know, or he doesn’t want to say.

I am guessing he knows. He just doesn’t want his starter to have to read articles, blogs and tweets the day before the game.

Frost said at the beginning of the year he felt as though his team had two starting quarterbacks. And had the roles been reversed, Luke McCaffrey would be drawing the starts with Adrian being the back up.

It is interesting how we got here. Nobody believed the Huskers could beat Ohio State. So in essence it took only one game, the Northwestern 21-13 loss last week to spark the debate.

And I know the common saying is the most popular guy on the football team is the back up quarterback. And I don’t want to be that guy. But I might have to be.

This is already a shortened season for Nebraska. And minus a canceled game against Wisconsin, it got even shorter.

So the Huskers cannot sit around and hope for someones psyche, drive or physical edge to come back in a couple of weeks. They need to win games starting NOW.

With Martinez also starting his junior year the time for “development” is over. Especially when you see someone like DJ Uiagalelei doing what he did in South Bend last week as a true freshman.

Is it fair to compare those two? No probably not. But it also sort of is.

If Nebraska wants to get back to what they once were. Which is basically what Clemson is now. Then you do need to compare yourself in that sense.

So let’s talk about it, which guy should be starting this Saturday? Martinez or McCaffrey?

Arm Talent

First off and foremost, the quarterback position is all about throwing the football. Shocking news I know.

A quarterback is truly measured by a few throws each game. When it is 3rd down and long and the defense knows you’re throwing the ball, that’s where the bad, mediocre, average and even only good quarterbacks are weeded out from the elite.

McCaffrey was always viewed as sort of a project in terms of throwing the football. But in year two in Lincoln he seems to be spinning it pretty well.

His passes last year were usually to easy open targets because the entire defense bought that he was going to take off and run instead.

Last week we actually got to see him stand in a pocket and throw. And while we didn’t see a large sample size to go off of, it was encouraging.

However one discouraging play was the interception at the goal line. On a pass that was tipped and picked and could have easily been off of his offensive lineman’s helmet. That pass needs to be higher and better it doesn’t matter who you are.

The last few years we have seen Adrian make some impressive passes. At times he has dropped some passes into spots that made me think he was destined for the NFL.

He made some decent throws in the Northwestern game both with the wind at his back and in his face.

What was disconcerting was some easy throws that he just flat out missed. There were times last week I wondered if he had the yips. Some swing passes that are basically running plays that technically count as passes were falling at the feet of his receivers.

For this round though I’m going to stick with Adrian’s arm talent. When he is feeling it he can put the ball wherever he wants to.

Winner: Adrian Martinez


This one might not seems fair but it’s certainly closer than you think.

I don’t need to say much about McCaffrey’s athleticism. We all know he has blazing track like speed which allows him to be sometimes more than just a quarterback.

He’s dangerous when he has an open field around him and the ball in his hands.

Adrian might not have that same burst or speed as McCaffrey but I’ve always felt as though he is simply slippery. He has good vision, and while he isn’t racing 40 yards in 4.3 seconds he does enough to pick up chunks of yardage when he takes off.

Is he sprinting away with Eric Crouch like speed? No. But he has enough to get the job done rather effectively.

This round was always going to go to McCaffrey obviously but it’s closer than most would think.

Winner: McCaffrey

Decision Making

What makes quarterback possibly the most difficult position in all of sports is the split second decision making on just about every single play.

The quarterback has to decipher so many things in such a short amount of time while also taking care of the most precious thing on the field, the football.

This category is sort of a difficult one to judge. Mainly because we don’t have enough film on McCaffrey to say what his decision making is like.

What I will say is that in my opinion, Martinez’ decision making has not improved to the way I would have imagined his junior year.

When Martinez made a mistake a couple of years ago I would chalk it up to a “freshman mistake.”

He would learn from it and wouldn’t let it happen again. However there are still times today where I shake my head and say what was he thinking?

Take this play for example. He’s an easy pitch and catch away from Kade Warner for a touchdown. Not shown is that this pass goes right through Warner’s hands.

But at the same time, throw the change up instead of the fastball Adrian.

Or this play from last week that officially knocked him from the ball game. In the end it looks like he pulled a Tommy Armstrong and just chucked the ball for fun into triple coverage.

That use to be a fun game to play on TV by the way. Whenever Armstrong reared up to chuck the ball deep there was a 50/50 chance that either the receiver was wide open or half of the defense was standing there waiting. That game was less fun to play watching from inside the stadium.

But on that play Allen was for a moment wide open from inside the 10 to the goal line. As you watch the play, Martinez rolls to his right, looking to throw that way but then comes back and for a second sees a wide open Allen.

Rather than just try and get the ball to the open man, he sets his feet and lofts one allowing three Wildcats to react and make the play.

It’s almost like if you swap those two throws for each other. Loft it to Warner, gun it to Allen. And those are two touchdown passes for Martinez.

I feel like that comes down to decision making. Your junior quarterback who has ran the same offense for three years now should not be making those types of decisions and I’m not sure that is something you can teach or fix at this point.

I can’t definitively hand this one to McCaffrey because we could see him throw four interceptions this week and come back and read this and say yikes.

But there is no real winner here.

Winner: The Opposing Defense

Best Chance to Win

This is what it all really comes down to right? Which guy gives you the best chance to win. So far the facts are that Martinez doesn’t have a winning record at Nebraska which is not at all entirely his fault but he certainly has some of the blame to shoulder.

McCaffrey hasn’t had a chance to show you if he can lead a team to a victory over the course of a full 60 minutes. Like I said, he’s been a package/gadget player so far in his Husker tenure. Last week was the first time we truly saw him as a real option at quarterback.

But what I will say here is what I said to my wife, a life time Husker fan while watching last weeks game.

Martinez does just enough to earn your trust to keep him in there and keep it close. But he is not going to win you the game. I said in the second quarter, that Martinez could help move the football but in terms of putting points on the board, he was not getting it done.

I felt like last week McCaffrey gave Nebraska it’s best chance to put points on the board and to win.

Martinez was moving the ball enough and completing enough passes to say, “Well keep him in there for one more drive he was close last time.”

But I didn’t feel as though he was going to be enough to win that game.

I feel as though McCaffrey can.

He has the raw athleticism to be a scoring threat whenever he touches the football. He has that Eric Crouch like ability to take off and make something incredible happen whenever his hands touch the pig skin.

I know Frost has a system and that it worked at UCF but sometimes to win big games it takes plays that are out of system and that just spontaneously happen.

Winner: McCaffrey

Starter on Saturday: Luke McCaffrey

In my mind I think this Saturday against Penn State Luke McCaffrey should be the starter. I want a full game to see what he can do over the course of a full 60 minutes without having to look over his shoulder wondering whether or not his leash is up.

With that being said, I won’t be entirely upset if Martinez gets another chance as the starter. He is a team captain and from everything I have heard and or read is an incredible leader for a young team trying to learn how to win.

Like Chaz said, who I want to thank right now for his great videos to help make my case in this blog.

I’m not pro-Adrian or Pro-Luke. I just want to see Nebraska win. And I feel like McCaffrey gives Nebraska the best chance to do that.

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Connor Ryan (@connoryan68/@PodVerbalCommit/@YourFantasy_CGS)

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