Nebraska junior quarterback Adrian Martinez will start this week’s opener against No. 5 Ohio State, coach Scott Frost said Monday.
Martinez, who had a record-setting freshman season in 2018 for Nebraska but struggled at times in 2019, will take the first snaps after competing with redshirt freshman Luke McCaffrey in the preseason. Frost repeatedly praised McCaffrey on Monday, saying Nebraska feels like it has “two first-string quarterbacks” entering the season. Martinez’s experience, with 21 career starts and 5,817 yards of total offense, made the difference in the decision.
“If Luke had already been playing and we had the same camp, it probably would have been Luke,” Frost said. “We feel we have the luxury of two starters.”
Martinez on Sunday was named a team captain for the second straight year. His passing numbers dropped from 2018 to 2019, when he had 1,956 yards with 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions, while his rushing production remained steady from his freshman to sophomore seasons.
Frost also repeatedly praised Ohio State for aligning with Nebraska to get the Big Ten season started after the league initially postponed the fall season Aug. 11 because of concerns surrounding COVID-19. Ohio State, Nebraska and Iowa were the three schools that initially voted to proceed with the season, and Ohio State and Nebraska were most vocal about finding a way to play this fall.
“I’ve got to give most of the credit for this to Ohio State,” Frost said. “We might have been one of the sounding gongs in this, we’re saying we want to play, and I don’t think it would have gone down without their doctor taking the lead, figuring out a way to present it to the presidents to get football back.”
Ohio State team physician Dr. Jim Borchers co-chaired the medical subcommittee of the Big Ten’s return-to-competition task force, which presented plans to the league’s presidents and chancellors in advance of their decision to go forward with the season. Frost also spoke extensively with Buckeyes coach Ryan Day about how to get back on the field.
“It’s strange where you find allies,” he said.
Frost said he didn’t think it was a coincidence that the Big Ten had Nebraska open with Ohio State in the revised fall schedule. Nebraska has division crossover games with both Ohio State and No. 8 Penn State, leading athletic director Bill Moos to express frustration about the difficulty of the Cornhuskers’ schedule.