Nebraska fans have settled into a comfortable disdain for Taylor Martinez as a passer. In fairness, much of what we’ve seen from Martinez airing it out gives good reason to be skeptical of his ability to effectively throw the ball.
There is reason for optimism.
Bleacher Report's own Adam Kramer expects improvement from Martinez as well. So a 3,000-yard passing season for Martinez isn’t an impossible dream.
Here are five reasons why.
The Children of the Corn are clinging to the story of Taylor Martinez working with quarterback guru Steve Calhoun, hoping that improved mechanics will lead to better performance from Martinez throwing the ball.
It’s not an unreasonable hope. As has been well documented, Martinez’s throwing motion is so unnatural that any improvement should lead to better results.
Nebraska wide receiver coach Rich Fisher will be entering his second year coaching NU’s wideouts, and the stability at the position should help Nebraska’s receivers help their junior quarterback.
While Martinez’s accuracy has been an issue, dropped passes by the receivers have also contributed to Nebraska’s struggles in throwing the ball effectively.
In some ways, quarterbacks and receivers can form a feedback loop. If Martinez improves his accuracy by cleaning up his mechanics, then his receivers will naturally have more confidence in getting the ball delivered to them on time and in the right place.
That confidence should help them catch more passes, which in turn should make Nebraska’s passing offense even more effective.
In 2012, Martinez will be a redshirt junior, meaning he has spent three full years in the Nebraska program. He’s started 25 games for Nebraska.
He’s not a kid anymore. Nebraska fans hope that his experience will mean the end of—or at least the limitation of—the moments of madness that seemed to dog Martinez in his first two seasons, leading to drive-killing and game-losing turnovers.
Last year, Martinez demonstrated significant growth in his ability to manage a game. If he is able to continue that growth in 2012, there's no reason to doubt that his completion percentage will improve and his turnovers will decrease.
OK, that’s probably not entirely fair for a headline.
But, the fact is that Burkhead became the dominant factor in Nebraska’s offense last season, limiting the amount of production from all other facets of the offense.
Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck has said he intends to lighten the load on Burkhead in 2012, suggesting Nebraska’s offense will be more balanced.
Not the grammatical monstrosity of being “more multiple,” with which former offensive coordinator Shawn Watson saddled in Nebraska’s vocabulary.
Less focus on Burkhead, combined with more weapons at wideout, an improved throwing mechanic, and a year’s growth and maturity set the table for Martinez to have a breakout season throwing the football for Nebraska.
Most people remember Taylor Martinez lighting up Oklahoma State for 323 yards and five touchdowns through the air.
But, do you remember that Martinez was 16-22 for 191 yards and two touchdowns against Ohio State?
Or that he was 28-37 for 289 and two touchdowns against Northwestern?
It’s easy to dismiss Martinez as a speedster who makes you cringe when he throws the ball (see Taylor, Steve), but the fact is that Martinez has found success throwing the ball.
To be certain, that success has not been consistent, and there have been times —Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Michigan come to mind—where he has lost games with his arm as well.
For Martinez to reach the 3,000 yard mark, he would have to average just over 230 yards per game, and that includes a bowl game.
He doesn’t need to replicate his Oklahoma State performance every week to reach that mark. If he can give more games like Ohio State and Northwestern, he could get there.
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