The similarities between Taylor Martinez and Colin Kaepernick are undeniable. From their build, to their running style, to the offenses that they quarterbacked in college, the two players exhibit extremely similar styles of play.
Unfortunately for Nebraska Cornhusker fans, Kaepernick just does it better.
Unsurprisingly, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback has a leg up on Martinez for a number of reasons. Let’s examine the five biggest ways in which Taylor Martinez could improve his play by learning from professional dual-threat quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
To be honest, this would be listed in any comparison between Martinez and another quarterback. Watching Martinez’s throwing motion, despite its improvement, continues to make Husker fans shudder with disdain.
It truly is awful.
But let’s try not to dwell too much on its shortcomings. After all, the state of Nebraska has already done that sufficiently.
Instead, let’s appreciate the steps he has taken to improve his throwing motion and the clear benefits he has reaped from that development.
But he needs to continue this change by taking note of the power and accuracy Kaepernick enjoys by staying upright, stepping through his throws and practicing his technique with consistency.
Just because this has nothing to do with on-field success does not mean Husker fans would not appreciate getting a little more from Taylor Martinez in interviews and press conferences.
When Colin Kaepernick is passed the microphone, he lets the fans know what is going on. He shares feelings, emotions and some semblance of a personality—all of which Taylor Martinez’s press conferences are largely devoid of.
With the exception of a hilarious couple days in 2011 when Martinez gave the media, which had all but blamed the Huskers’ every shortcoming that season on him, a piece of his mind, Martinez mostly shies away from letting his personality bleed through his interviews.
But he is the quarterback of the Nebraska Cornhuskers. He is the author of one of the best runs in the history of the program against Wisconsin last December. He is the face of the team. And people want to get to know one of the most recognizable names in the entire state of Nebraska.
Truth be told, both Colin Kaepernick and Taylor Martinez committed crucial mistakes throughout their 2012 campaigns that cost their teams dearly. But particularly in the passing game, Kaepernick’s mistakes were smarter Martinez's.
Despite the tremendous upside to Kaepernick’s quarterbacking abilities, the first-year starter was not without the typical growing pains expected from an inexperienced signal-caller. For every accurate throw he rifled down field or zone-read he pulled scampering for a large gain, he also had his share of overthrows and pick-sixes, just like Taylor Martinez.
Kaepernick’s mistakes, however, were primarily grounded in execution, as opposed to the lapses in judgment which frequent Martinez’s passing game (although these lapses have reduced dramatically as he has gained more experience).
Kaepernick’s mistakes were often receivers overthrown by his cannon of an arm or open players who eventually found coverage due to his hesitation. Martinez, on the other hand, has been prone to throw into double and triple coverage or blindly lob panicked passes into the secondary.
Taylor Martinez needs to firm up his decision-making and allow only his execution of throws to create the problems, which it almost certainly will anyway.
Although Colin Kaepernick had his fair share of problems finding the wrong color jerseys in the passing game, his lack of fumbling is certainly something Taylor Martinez could learn.
All quarterbacks are going to take sacks. It is unavoidable. But when a quarterback enjoys the athleticism with which these two players have been gifted, he is going to endure many more hits outside of the pocket, requiring even more sure-handedness.
Despite playing the most vulnerable position in the game, Kaepernick has done well to secure the ball and limit his fumbles. If Nebraska hopes to reach its offensive potential, Martinez must learn to do the same.
Examining Colin Kaepernick’s use of the zone-read with San Francisco and Taylor Martinez’s with Nebraska is obviously an imperfect comparison. But in the few times each team has implemented such quarterback options, one thing is abundantly clear: Kaepernick knows how to pick his moments to pull the ball and go.
During the 49ers’ 2013 playoff run, Kaepernick averaged at least 8.9 yards per carry in every game. By comparison, Taylor Martinez eclipsed this mark once in the Huskers’ entire 14-game season.
Particularly with the extremely talented stable of running backs behind him, Martinez should not hesitate to limit his carries and allow the backs to shoulder most of the load. By using a little more discretion on option plays, he will better be able to exploit openings when they do present themselves as Kaepernick was able to do in the past month.