Nebraska starting quarterback Adrian Martinez didn’t get off to a great start in the Cornhuskers opener against Illinois on Saturday afternoon. He struggled to connect with his receivers early on and his team fell into an early hole.
Despite the shaky start, Martinez made one play in the third quarter that breathed life into his own game and the Nebraska offense as a whole.
On the first play from scrimmage after Illinois extended its leaded to 21 points with four minutes to go in the third quarter, Martinez took a snap and dropped back to pass. The pocket quickly collapsed, so the Huskers quarterback tucked the ball and started to head upfield.
Martinez exploded through the second-level and was home free in a flash. He outpaced the rest of the Illinois defense all the way to the end zone for a 75-yard touchdown.
— Nebraska On BTN (@NebraskaOnBTN) August 28, 2021
The score pulled Nebraska within 14 points of the Illini and made the deficit more manageable. Still, Illinois continued to lead 30-16 through the end of the third quarter.
Martinez’s speed is part of the reason he’s held onto the Huskers starting job over the past few years. After a battle with Luke McCaffrey in 2020, the senior came in this fall as the clear No. 1.
But, apart from his 75-yard rushing touchdown, Martinez struggled to stay consistent on Saturday. He sailed multiple passes over the heads of his receivers in the first half and was just 9-for-19 early on in the fourth quarter. Apart from his touchdown scramble, he rushed 12 times for a combined three-yard loss, which included a handful of sacks.
Scott Frost and the Cornhuskers will need Adrian Martinez to play a whole lot better if they hope to meet expectations this fall. After Saturday’s performance, the senior quarterback might not have much time to turn things around.
Fans can tune-in to the fourth quarter of Nebraska vs. Illinois on FOX.
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